Photos in Strava.
I was in the area and needed a hilly long run, and this route fit the bill. Why not do an FKT if it's available?
It was raining when I arrived at the "trailhead". I drove back and forth multiple times on the road, staring at my watch... where the heck is the trail?
I parked my car and started walking up the road in the rain. It was cold. Gunshots rang out just down the road making me hesitate. I didn't think it was hunting season, so I shouldn't be too worried about accidentally getting shot... A narrow trail dipped off the road to the right and my watch showed I was near the start. Deciding that was the correct trail, I sloshed back down the muddy road to my car. Gunshots and rain... Maybe I'll come back another day. I decided to get ready to run anyway and that I'd make my decision once I was ready to go. By the time I changed into running clothes (I chose my brightest orange leggings just in case there were hunters out there) and packed up, the rain had stopped and I could see little blips of blue sky through the clouds. Okay, this is gonna go.
I chose to go very easy on this route because I've been dealing with chronic proximal hamstring tendinopathy - an injury I've ignored for a number of years that finally flared up enough to stop me from running much in the last few months. I was considering this as a training run and not a race, so I was in no hurry. The cool, humid air and the forest flowers immediately made me smile and I was happy to be out there. The trail veered away from the sounds of the gunshots, so that worry faded as I continued on. I walked when I felt like it and stopped to check out some of the amazing flowers, many of which I didn't recognize. If you know me at all, you know I like to identify wildflowers, so I took photos and marveled in the dense forest. The trail was easy to follow, but the route is somewhat convoluted and I took many wrong turns... six, I believe. (If you want to know what turns not to take, use my gpx file haha.)
As I was climbing up what I think was Stump Jump Trail, all I could think about was how delicious it would be to run down the smooth, flowing trail. I wondered if it would be better to come around this loop from the other direction... until I got to the PBR Trail. I wouldn't really want to come up that trail. It's quite steep! I couldn't imagine riding a bike down that, but it's clear that people did.
The only part I didn't enjoy was running through the clear-cut area on FSR 2040. It was the only section that made me wonder, is this ever going to end? I was happy to get back on the trail, to say the least, and jog out the last couple of miles.
This route is quite pretty, but as mentioned before, it's a little convoluted. I'm not sure it can be considered a "classic" for the area, but then again, I'm not a local. Regardless, it was a lovely few hours on trail, and I don't regret exploring the area.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it went despite how excruciatingly slow it was. Things appear to be on the up-and-up with the hamstring, thanks to Dr. Jason Taylor, my amazing PT at Elevate Physical Therapy and Performance, and some dedication on my part.
The good stuff:
Fuel: I drank Gnarly Nutrition BCAAs and Collagen before the effort, and took 1.5L of Gnarly Nutrition Hydrate in the ruby red grapefruit flavor along with me. I drank about 1L total. I also took along two packages of Cliff shot blocks and one fig bar, but I never felt the need to eat.
Shoes: Hoka One One Evo Jawz. I find them to be lightweight, comfortable, and very grippy on a variety of terrain.