FKT: Anna Eshelman - Deschutes River Railbed Trail (OR) - 2023-05-13

Route variation
one way
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3h 21m 13s

So grateful I was able to run through this beautiful river canyon during the lush spring season! Special thanks to my partner for seeing me off at Mack’s Canyon and driving all the way around to meet me at the Columbia. The trail provided plentiful magic: lupine, fragrant sagebrush, tall grasses, vernal streams, arrowleaf balsamroot, yarrow, multiple pairs of grouse, an eagle pair and chicks, and countless other birds on the river. I enjoyed solitude and saw no one else on the trail itself until ~1mi out from the parking lot at the Columbia.

To avoid the impending heatwave (my main concern aside from my body holding up, not having run close to this distance in a long while) I started before sunrise at 5:10am with a rising crescent moon and just enough light to not need a headlamp. I carried an inReach Mini, 5 gels, electrolytes and 3 soft flasks (1.6L), one of which I used for dousing over myself whenever I started to feel hot. The trail was mostly in the shadow of the canyon basalt and a gentle headwind breeze started a little after the halfway point, which helped me stay cool enough through the last few miles when I began to tire. I finished at 8:31am just before it hit 70°, and later in the day 90°. Stronger headwind from the Columbia for many miles would’ve been quite slowing and challenging on tired legs. 

In the unmaintained section, I briefly took a wrong path at one of the removed trestles. The downhill path I was intending to take had overgrown and I didn’t recognize it on first pass. Otherwise navigation through the ~5mi trestle section was fairly straightforward and fun, just slow in places with the path being overgrown, steep, or very rocky, but scouting this section a few months ago did prove helpful for orientation/confidence. The following tractor-churned section had smoothed out well enough but it was still rocky or off camber in places. And the final section to the end, beautifully smooth in comparison! Cooler temperatures, zero headwind and pre-vegetation overgrowth could make for more ideal conditions overall.