I'd been looking at this loop for a few years and happened to be running alongside Bryan Williams at High Lonesome last year and asked him about it. We chatted briefly and he encouraged me to try so when Covid happened and all the races were cancelled I figured it was the best time to do it. It's been a mild snow year and we had none of the avalanches that occurred last year so I watched the weather and chose a timeframe that would work with both avoiding thunderstorms and my cycle at the time I know I feel my best. What a luxury to be able to do that!
The first day was long and a grind, but so so pretty. I love being up high, there were a few storm clouds but I only heard a few grumbles of thunder and then I ended at Hancock. I filtered water at Illinois Creek between seeing Eric and then again somewhere up really high before I ended the first day.
Day two I got started 30 minutes later than planned and saw Eric one more time than planned - it was also decided that I would end at Chalk Creek rather than Cottonwood because I was having a hard time getting out of my head and I knew I would be running well into the night. The weather was dreary which didn't help my mood and the Monarch Crest Trail seemed to go on forever. I was starting to get blisters on the bottom of my feet so when I saw Eric at Fooses I changed my shoes and socks and popped the blisters and continued on. I didn't ever have to filter water on the second day because I saw Eric multiple times and the weather was not so hot.
Day three would be Chalk Creek to the end and my friend Andrea came up to pace me for Chalk Creek to Cottonwood Pass section and the last section to the finish, so about 25 miles I had someone with me - the rest I was alone and it was starting to show in the 25 miles between running with her, it was raining and I had to sing to myself to get myself to Clear Creek Reservoir.
I refueled at Clear Creek and it was 11ish miles to the finish. I started out pretty good because I had company but I stopped eating and drinking entirely and poor Andrea got the brunt of it. When you're on the back side of Twin Lakes you're really wishing there was only one. We finally got to the finish/starting point around 10:50 or so and I was done.
This loop is amazing! I love being up high and the views are crazy. It can be rough up there and the weather can be iffy, but there were so many through hikers that when I was starting to feel like I was alone I would either see a human or a tent and the feeling would go away. I took some videos and a few photos, but they never look the way it looks when you are up there. I don't know why this one isn't a bit more popular, maybe with Covid that would change.
I chose to sleep, and got about 4-5 hours both nights - this time is easily broken if someone has the desire to sleep less and move faster, but I really wanted to enjoy and see as much of it as I could and being alone for the majority of the time, made this the best way to go about it.