FKT: Michael Searing - I-90 Corridor "Backside" (WA) - 2022-09-25

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
7h 6m 26s

This seemed like the right way to celebrate the Snow Lake trail reopening! It's more runnable than it was before, but not by much. This was a solo unsupported effort, only resupplying with lake and stream water. I only brought a 0.5 L filter flask due to the prevalence of water sources. This route benefits from shade almost the entire way until Melakwa Lake, so the heat today wasn't too much of a factor.

I followed Stuke's route (eastbound), mostly because it would make the bike ride back to the car (on the P2C trail) downhill rather than uphill, and I much prefer getting my elevation running than biking. The westbound option would certainly be faster, and it should be more pleasant as well, since you do the exposed portions of the trail (around Snow Lake) in the morning, you get to go up rather than down the steep and slippery north side of Melakwa Pass, and of course it's just less uphill.

This was my first time doing Granite Lakes to Defiance. The trail's great at the beginning, although after Thompson lake it because much less runnable due to the track being narrow and rough. I was surprised to find a creek with solid flow at 4000', above Granite Lakes and before the pass to Thompson Lake. This was my first fill-up.

From Defiance to the Melakwa Lake climb is quite runnable.

This was also my first time doing Melakwa Pass. There was more of a trail than I was expecting, and the south side was relatively easy-going on the trail and in the bottom of the valley where the rocks are quite stable. The north side was very slick with marbles. I should have deviated off the dirt path to the rocks earlier. I crossed what's left of the snow on the SE side of the lake; it's low-angle and leads to a nice path around the east side of the lake. From there I followed a path I put together from a combination of Stuke's route and the Strava heat map. It did seem to follow an actual route marked with cairns and with a decent bootpath. It was easy to lose, as I did a few times, so I relied more heavily on GPS than cairns/visible paths. The navigation didn't slow me down much overall. My legs were starting to feel the miles by this point, and the rock-hopping/bushwhacking took time. Once you're on the ridge, it's pretty smooth sailing as long as you keep on the ridge. There seemed to be a number of trails leading off the ridge; I tried one of these and it wasn't great so I went back up to the ridge. Gem Lake has a ton of social trails through the campsites and I lost the main trail there again. After that, it was back to running (and negotiating trail rush hour) all the way to my bike.

My planned route is here: (labeled "I-90CB")

The bike ride obviously isn't part of the FKT route, but I'll include some stats. It's 37.2 miles, 500' gain, 2620' loss. Bring a light for the tunnel. You can save some miles doing Tinkham Rd instead of the tunnel, but it's slow going on loose gravel. The P2C trail is quite nice. I had a big slow mountain bike, and it was hot down in North Bend, so the ride took me 2 hours 50 minutes.