FKT: Megan Lacey, Christof Teuscher - Columbia Plateau Trail (WA) - 2023-04-08

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Mixed-gender team
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 16h 32m 13s

We started our self-supported FKT attempt on the 123-mile Columbia Plateau Trail (CPT) on Friday, April 7, at 4:05 a.m. at the Fish Lake Trailhead in Cheney, WA. The trail runs along the abandoned Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway from Cheney to the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers in Pasco, WA, and passes through five southeastern WA counties.

The first 15 miles cross the northwest corner of Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. As rosy-fingered dawn brightened the Channeled Scablands, we delighted in awakening avian friends (and other wildlife): cheery red-winged blackbirds, stately buffleheads, spotted towhees; elk, coyotes, muskrats. Time passed easily amid the signs of spring; we arrived at Martin Road trailhead (mile 23) earlier than expected.

Beyond the refuge, the landscape became more remote, though no less inspiring. We marveled at expansive basalt cliffs (and their surprisingly large accompanying lakes). We had a rare daytime sighting of both a barn and a great-horned owl. We surprised a dozen cottontail bunnies. The trail cut through dozens of rock formations, and we caught ourselves railfanning over the remnants of early rockfall warning systems. Before long, we found ourselves lunching across from Lamont’s grain elevators, snacking on the outskirts of Benge, then watching the sun set over Washtucna.  

We spent the night pushing toward Kahlotus (mile 99), thankful for the relief of a closed trestle traverse and the light of a nearly full moon. We arrived just after dawn arrived on her golden throne and took a snack break by the mouth of Devil’s Canyon Tunnel. The tunnel marks the trail’s turn toward the Snake River, and we moved quickly through the canyon, eager to reach the final stretch. At the river, the trail tunnels through the hillside again and the remaining miles meander along the water, passing a handful of towering trestles and miles of majestic hills. 

We reached the Snake River Canyon Trailhead at approximately 5 p.m. Energized by its pristine facilities and the proximity of the finish, we ran most of the final 15 miles—fast enough to finish 16 minutes ahead of Matthew Shepard’s 2021 FKT (40:49), but slow enough to greet an osprey couple and a flotilla of white pelicans soaking in the the evening light.

Full report:

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