Sarah told me how amazing this trail is. I was able to find the time end of the week and give it a go. Unfortunately the weather was forecasted with a chance of rain transitioning to thunderstorms mid day. I threw in my Rab Phantom Pull On shell just “incase” and Makalu and I headed up to the trailhead from Weaverville.
We got there around 10:30am and the parking lot was full. We parked just below on a shoulder overflow area. We walked up to the kiosk and started.
LOTS of people, all friendly. A few other dogs. Most people were really good about stepping aside when you yelled, “Passing,” while coming up the trail (majority of people were backpackers with fairly heavy packs).
The shrubs were a bit wet from the trickle of rain. All views were non-existent due to thick clouds…..bummer! No need for a shell layer on the up. There was one section of downed trees where the trail has been rerouted. I lost track but retraced my steps and found it. About a 5-10min delay. One big river crossing but enough trees had fallen across it that you didn’t have to get in.
Made it to the lower lake and continued up to the upper. The “scramble” as indicated on the map is not technical. All upright hiking/running. Well carined but a bit hard to see in the thick clouds.
Once at the upper lake we did a quick transition. Mak ate an entire Bobo Bar (peach flavor) and I switched out my water and shot down a Spring Energy. I had brought a hand filter but it wasn’t needed as I only went through 600ml on the way up. I had a full 600ml soft flask for the way down.
I chatted briefly with a camper and we headed down. Right as we started our descent a BIG thunder roar let loose and was quickly followed by LOTS of rain. We tried to move quickly through the exposed granite flats down past the lower lake. The rain came harder. Rather than deal with the shell (having an already wet layer on) I just kept moving and figured I’d stay warm enough in my long sleeve and shorts.
We made good progress through the wet slick rocky terrain down into the softer forest trails. We hit the trailhead just after 16 miles total. I realized that I had lost about 0.5 mile on the up from missing the trail and not knowing the best route between the lower and upper lake. Mileage up was 8.3. Mileage down was 7.7.
I’ve seen plenty of photos showing off the terrain during this hike/run. I look forward to going back and doing it in better weather!
I have no doubt that other runners have given this a go! If not, I strongly recommend it! Photos on Strava.