I set out from the Pole Creek Trailhead to run the Three Sisters Circumnavigation counter-clockwise right around 5:30 this morning. It started off in the low-40s and stayed mild for the whole first half of the day until the dusty and exposed southern portion of the PCT where the sun heat things up quickly. For the most part the trails were in fairly good shape. Snow was nearly a non-issue, but there was 3 miles worth of downed trees through the burn area on the east side of the loop. That absolutely was a factor especially in some of the final miles that seemed to drag on.
The plan, which worked wonderfully, was to carry a bunch of gels for fuel and utilize two soft flask filter bottles to utilize the sporadic natural streams along the route. I completed the entirety of the effort solo and received no aid from anyone on the trail.
The first dozen miles went by pretty quickly while the sun was still rising and I took in some of the beautiful colors that central Oregon showed on the horizon. I felt strong and cruised through the first few turns, excited to get onto the PCT. I'm constantly amazed by the variety of terrain this trail has. Stretches of sharp lava rock, lush meadows, sandy burned areas, and thickly developed forest with soft trail. Everything was going well through 26 miles when suddenly the sunshine began to take effect and the exposure began to get to me. I slowed substantially the next 5 miles and felt some cramping twinges. The whole last 15 miles are covered with tons of accessible water sources and made it much easier to stay up on hydration. Even still the cramps persisted and my originally long stride got choppy and painful. With the hot sun overhead, I put my head down and did my best to simply trudge on, minimizing the damages of a long day on the trails. While the final 20 weren't as peaceful as the first bunch, it feels great to have completed a tough route in the heat as fast as I could have on this day.