It was 8 am on my morning walk when I checked the weather. It was supposed to snow overnight. I quickly walked the final mile back to the house, through a running vest in the car, and drove out to the Crazy Mountains. On the way I got stuck behind some loose cattle and nearly hit an elk #MontanaLiving. When I finally arrived at the Porcupine Cabin Trailhead I put two packs of goldfish in my back, a couple candy bars, and a water bottle and took off.
The trail up to the pass above Sunlight Lake was steep and long. By the backside of the pass, and dropping down it was all I could do to keep 5mph pace. My legs are not fully recovered from the Colorado Trail FKT, but my mind and heart wanted so badly to run. And despite the feeling and hurt of jogging a distance I haven't done in a month, I knew I had to do it, to have just one more win before the snow covers the peaks of Montana and sticks around until spring. My run was a hobble, but as I hit the midway point I knew I had it in me. I hate handfuls of crackers on the run and experienced a tender stomach. It was hard to go from recovery to a big effort so suddenly.
Deer darted across the trail as I neared Moose Lake. At the even higher Campfire Lake the wind picked up and whipped my face. I smiled, this was nature and I had been absent and hidden from it's power for a month. I loved being back. The route was beautiful. The final climb up to the high point crushed my legs and lungs but I could not slow down. Smoke had blown in and my lungs burned, but I was motivated for the miles of downhill toward the finish.
With everything I had left, I flew down the hill toward the cabin that my car was parked at. My legs hurt and the beginning of chaffing presented itself. I should have brought a few more "comfort" items on this adventure, but I had made a name for myself of just making due. The whole day my plan was to break 6 hours. I was on the verge of make it, but then something crashed in the brush beside me. It was a giant Moose and I jumped. I abruptly stopped, pulled out my phone and tried to get a photo, but it was not to be. I resumed my trot, but the same moose that ran down the valley crossed 10 feet in front of me and I jumped with athleticism that I didn't know I had. The rhythm of pushing harder than my legs wanted to was gone, and I settled with just over 6 hours. It was a beautiful route, a smoky day, and a calf burner. Definitely, a new iconic way to see another unique mountain range in Montana!
Watch Stat: 6,631 feet of elevation gain which I believe is about 1k higher that what I thought this loop was.