The fabled land of the South Branch of the Ausable. It felt somewhat poetic to finally run this section as an out and back having grown up paddling and XC skiing this trail as a child.
Started out pretty easy and finally found a good flow around mile 4 between Chase and M-72. Touched the signpost on the M-72 parking lot at 1:09:51. Kicked it into gear on the way back and hit a small low point around mile 14. I eased backed a little between 14 and 15 and then pushed it to the end trying to get under 2:20:00. Unsupported. Carried 0.75L water, 0.5L Perpetuum mix, and four gels.
The trail was just like I remember it as a kid. Well, a few less trees from clear cutting. Otherwise, it is such a beautiful section snaking along the South Branch. Looking ahead, there is a lot of potential with the route as an out and back. I’d love to see someone break this current time and am willing to bet it could be done under 2 hours.