Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Great Burn, Heart Lake to Clearwater Crossing run

I finally was able to find willing cohorts to pull off a Great Burn traverse run.  After too much logistics planning, Leah pounded out an almost 30-mile day in the reverse direction and met us all at the Heart lake trailhead for an enjoyable night of family camping.
Heart lake.
Jeffrey and I rolled out of the Heart lake trailhead at a remarkably civil 8:30 am.  I was still recovering from sickness, but felt OK to engage a long day as long as we went slowly.  The run up to Heart and Pearl lakes went quickly, and we were soon in new-to-us country on the Stateline.  After a long descent to Goose lake, we promptly lost the trail (in retrospect, we went around the wrong side of the lake).  Instead of backtracking, I forced an obstinate bushwack, but it ended up working out just fine.  The ridge section from Goose lake to the West fork trail was by far the highlight of the run.  It is a beautiful few miles, with fun runnable trail perched above Straight lake, Siamese lake, and countless striking small tarns that are so characteristic of the Burn.  Plus, as I had hoped, the fall colors were beautiful.  We arrived at Fish lake, our halfway point, tired but sufficiently motivated to continue on to Indian creek.
Nearing Pearl lake. 
In the fun stuff.  This photo does not come close
to displaying the striking character of the Stateline between Goose and Fish lakes.
The Stateline trail over Admiral peak to Mud lake was not as spectacular as the previous section, but it was worth wile and fast.  We were both tired by the time we dropped into Indian creek, and it was an easy call to not continue out to Schley peak.  The trail down from Mud lake was overgrown and slow for the first few miles, but we were soon on more runnable trail.  I was quite tired by this point, but it was actually kind of fun to spend a few hours grinding out miles in a magnificent state of fatigue.  The run out was uneventful, and we returned to the car happy after a long and beautiful day in new country close to home.  We had something close to an epic with a flat tire on the drive home, but that is a story for another day.  For stats, 35 miles, a dad under 7k vert, and done in 9 hours, 15 minutes at an all day running pace.
Admiral peak section.
Last few running steps before fording Fish creek and taking shoes off at the car.
It is marvelous to be healthy enough to be able to confidently do long running days like this.  I need to go back and to what appears to be the most logical 30-mile North Fork/Stateline/West Fork Fish loop from Clearwater crossing.

I hope to get a few more days in the mountains, but fall colors are pretty darn nice.

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