Sarah's Report: (Photos)
What a good day out! Nate and I first did this loop in 2017 and were excited to repeat it this summer. After our first dedicated training period over the winter and spring, it felt really good to run something we’ve done before and compare our time and output.
Last time we ran the Four Lakes Loop we decided to run it clockwise, staying above Deer Lake and traversing to Summit Lake first. This option has its pros and cons, but does require that you finish the loop with a relatively long climb from the meadows below Luella Lake up to Deer Lake and back to the pass. This time we ran out of water by the time we got to the top of Long Canyon, so decided to drop down to Deer Lake and then run counterclockwise. This allowed us to lose that elevation down to the meadow, and then the climb up to the next pass was made up of very runnable, low angle switchbacks. I’d definitely recommend this direction when trying to put in a quick time.
By the time we got back the top of Long Canyon, we were both feeling pretty great. We sped up a decent amount on the downhill, but kept things conservative to avoid injury on the initial steep rocky descent. Once the trail opened up about 3 miles from the trailhead, we started to pick up the pace more and had a lot of fun back to the trailhead. All in all, we finished 1 hour and 41 minutes faster than the first time we did this. SO FUN to see this type of improvement after a lot of hard work and uncertainty.
Nate's Report: (Photos)
So much fun!
When we first arrived to Weaverville this summer to visit family, we wanted to head back to this area and repeat this route. We first did it together in 2017 as a precursor to completing the Mount Rainier Infinity Loop. We were curious how it would feel this time around after the 30 weeks of dedicated training prior to this trip.
Sarah and I had read online through another website that this route was quiet snow covered up high on the loop early this month. It discouraged us from going right to it. After completing a couple other Trinity Alps routes, we felt that the snow was actually lower than we’ve seen in previous summers and figured we go back to the Four Lakes Loop via Long Canyon.
It took us about 30 minutes to drive from Weaverville to the trailhead. We were surprised to find quite a few cars there mid week. Blue skies. Lots of sunscreen. Plenty of trail food. 600ml of water. We started!
The initial climb up through the treeline felt steeper than we both remembered but seemed to go quickly. We entered the meadow and kept climbing to the top of Long Canyon/entrance into Bee Tree Gap. We did the short traverse across the gap and stood at the start of the loop looking down on Deer Lake. We were both out of water which made us choose to travel the loop counterclockwise. This direction takes you right down to Deer Lake (easy water stop) first before continuing on to Luella Lake, Diamond Lake (another easy water stop) and then traverses you above Summit Lake.
We ran the downs and quickly hiked/ran the ups. The trail was in great condition. Very little snow. A couple groups of people. One person camped out. Otherwise it felt remote and was beautiful.
Once back at the start of the loop we continued across Bee Tree Gap and dropped back down Long Canyon to the trailhead.
When we looked back at our time in 2017, we realized that we shed 1hr 41min this time around. We were stoked! Really motivating!
30min back to Weaverville in time for dinner.