I've wanted to explore this trail for a while now, so I decided to make it happen this year once the temperatures came down enough to allow for a respectably quick effort. Getting into the HURT 100 this year has piled on an extra need to seek out techy training trails. I set a date and made plans, consulting the local expert and Good Water master Nick Petterson for advice. Unfortunately for me, the weather did not want to play so nice, bringing a much needed drencher to the area the day before my trail debut. All week, I waffled about whether to go. In the end, however, I found myself incapable of making a Plan B for the weekend, so I decided to go check out the trail. At worst, I'd see how bad it could be in wet conditions and have a little primer under my belt for a real attempt in the future.
Well, things got off on a bad foot from the start. After a stressful drive in the rain up to my hotel for the night, I settled for some pizza carry out from next door. My taste buds said it was amazing but my stomach had other ideas. I spent most of the night with a terrible headache and a poor unsettled tummy. Rolled out of bed late the next morning, trudging downstairs for the free coffee and oatmeal. This seemed to help things so I packed up and headed out, reaching the trailhead at Cedar Breaks about 8:00 am. It was a perfect 55 and overcast, but the misty precipitation was annoying. I don't like cold. I threw on a light jacket, locked up the car, and scooted out, being careful to ease into things so as not to wake up an angry stomach.
I went in the counter-clockwise direction, and am happy I did. I was able to establish a nice rhythm on the easy road before hitting the traily trail. I committed to do at least 4-5 miles before making any decisions to turn back, and oh am I glad I did. The wet rocks were slick so I had to be nimble. No heavy full-weighted steps, must be light as a butterfly! Embrace your inner ninja, Regina. Why not step in the dirt? Well, there were more rocks than dirt to land in. Also, the dirt was soft and muddy. Two steps in that stuff and both shoes would become nice big anchors. Thank goodness I was using old trail shoes and the mud-collecting lugs were worn down to practically nothing. Ha! Maybe that's why the rocks were so hard to land. Just gotta keep floating like a butterfly! By the time I was 4-5 miles in, I'd forgotten I needed to decide whether to turn around or not. Onward I went.
Eventually the terrain got better. Less technical and firmer underfoot. I could do more running and less floating. Then I reached a fun little double track on the northwest end and got to stretch the legs for a bit. I hit the Tejas Camp sucking down a gel and decided to refill a flask while I was here. A hunter was hanging his fresh kill (poor Bambi's mom) for cleaning. Suddenly I was grateful for getting a late start.
Off I scuttled again, feeling fresh and excited to hit the little hills I knew were coming up. In true runner form, I had forgotten all about how slick the rocks were. A few near-wipeouts quickly set me straight again. Now on rather tired legs, I found myself less able to engage the ninja spirit. I was down to a nice beaver crawl. Oh well. Almost done, and somehow I'm still smiling and thinking this is fun. With 2 miles to go I finally encounter my first hikers on the trail. I'm not alone in the world, thank goodness!! I keep on going, now with a little prance back in my step.
While the wet conditions definitely slowed me down, I'm pretty happy with this effort. It turned out to be a fantastic experience and I'd love to come back again in the near future. I ended up using 1.5 liters of fluid (1 of that with Tailwind), and 3 Huma gels.