This was a really fun solo trip I took Saturday morning. I've been trying to blend in a bit more running to my outdoor activities so I figured since this trip was solo I'd make it a "trail run".
I hit REI right as they opened to pick up a hydration vest. I've been wanting to get a smaller lightweight daypack for solo trips where I don't need extra layers or trekking poles so I figured the vest would kill two birds with one stone as I'd have something to run with as well. I decided on the Osprey Duro6 Hydration Vest. It's got plenty of space in the back for the 10 essentials, GPS, one extra layer (I could squeeze two lightweight ones if needed), map, spare socks, and the hydration bladder. In the front pockets I can fit my Sony RX100IV on the left, my iPhone tracking my route on the right, and a Cliff Bar. Perfect!
The trail is quite unique in that it will really mess with your head right off the bat. Climbing around 1000ft in elevation per mile starting about 2ft into the trail makes you start questioning your sanity. I quickly found my intended "trail run" was going to be a "trail walk" for a bit, lol. After a couple miles on the wide main trail I veered off to the left up onto the much less traveled lookout trail, and was instantly reminded why the burning sensation in my calves was all worth it. Such an awesome area! You don't get a lot of views because the trees are somewhat thick around the edge of the ridge, but the ones you do are worth it.
I regained my breath finally, and took off at a nice pace down the ridge and to the lakes. I had eye'd a trail on the north side of the lakes on Gia GPS and decided to make a nice figure-eight out of them. This way I'm covering as many miles as I can while I'm up there, and also keeping re-tracing my route to a minimum.
This is when my trail run once again veered off course, and became a bushwhack! The trail that runs from the east side of Pine Lake up and around to the Cedar Lake trail is about 90% nonexistent at this point. I was following what looked like a single set of very old footprints for about 1/2 mile then even those disappeared. Every now and then I'd glimpse what I thought was an old trail, but it was really hard to tell. Only because I had my ten essentials, emergency blanket, food, water, map, compass, etc. did I make the decision it as safe to head deeper into the woods. I followed the old marked route on my GPS, and came to a nice little creek crossing. After scoping what looked like a safe place to cross I made a run for it, and scrambled up the hill on the other side of the creek. This is where things got interesting. There, right in front of my face as I was scrambling up, was a partially folded map laying on the ground. I hadn't seen a single trace of another human in about a mile and amazingly I almost stuck my hand on it without even knowing! It was a water resistant map of the area that I'm assuming Mr. Footprint had lost it on his trek around the lakes just like I was currently doing. I guess we have the same taste in route finding!
After a little more bushwhacking I made it back to the main trail, and headed back in the direction of the car. Only after what seemed like hours (probably only 20 min, lol) of quad pounding downhill did I finally reach the car and call this trip a success. The trails up around the lakes are absolutely beautiful, and it's very apparent that WTA has put a lot of time into keeping them maintained. The planks all along the edge of the lake shores are a godsend that not only give you a dry place to walk, but also keep the surrounding environment untouched. There's one camping spot up there that really caught my eye, and I think Auden would absolutely love to backpack and do a little fishing there.
All totaled up it was a nice 7.46mi trip!