Beautiful day! I kept putting this effort off because of the smoke. As soon as I got a clear window I took advantage of it to run the summit and circumnavigation.
I started and ended at the intersection of the PCT and the summit trail so that I could distinctly separate the summit from the circ. This meant that I had to hike 1.4 miles in before I could even start my 36+ mile run, then have to hike out another 1.4 afterwards. I hiked in with two packs; one for the summit and one for the circ. That way I knew I could carry enough water for both, and I could leave extra water, layers, and snacks behind for the hike out.
I went pretty easy up the mountain. I had never climbed McLoughlin before and wanted to enjoy it, but also conserve some energy for the circ. It went smoothly. I was told that it can feel "spicy" but I thought it was pretty cruiser. I couldn't find a summit market at the top, and was later told that there used to be one but it's disappeared. I signed the register and headed back down.
My feet were already hot and painful after coming down the mountain, but I decided to continue on with the circumnavigation anyway. I chose to go counter-clockwise in order to get the more "bushwhacky" trail out of the way early on. I took off on the PCT headed North for about 4 miles. PCT miles always seem kind of cruiser to me because it's such a well-traveled trail. The Twin Lakes trail got a bit bushwhacky and required some routefinding. the trail kind of comes and goes. Perhaps it's easier to follow going the other direction. It was a relief to get back on well-trodden trail again, and then I was able to find a good groove on the gravel road after that. My feet totally blew up on the 9 mile stretch of uphill paved road. I love my Salomon Speed Cross shoes, but they aren't really meant for pavement and the blacktop was a little unexpected 😅 Towards the end of the pavement section, a worried person pulled over and warned me that there have been some mountain lion sightings in the area recently... So that was on my mind as I headed back onto the trail and the sun started to set. I refilled my water at a faucet at the Fish Lake Campground and started using Tailwind from here. I was pretty sure my toes were falling off at this point, which was a great distraction from the eyes looking at me from the dark forest. I blasted music and sang my heart out and had solo dance parties as I tried my best to keep my swollen, blistered feet shuffling towards the end. My phone died about 0.2 mi from the finish. Once I arrived, I stopped my watch, took a minute to breathe (cue full body cramping here), then talked myself into starting the 1.4 mile hike out in the dark without my music to distract me. Overall, it was a hot, dry, rough day for me, but the skies were blue, there was no smoke in the air, and I was outside running... that's always a win in my book.
Ultimate Direction Adventure Vesta
Salomon Speed Cross Shoes
Outdoor Research Echo sun hoody
Spring Energy Gels (Speed Nut is my fave)
Spring Energy Electroride hydration mix
Tailwind (started using at water refill)