Monday, October 18, 2010

27 mile Trail Run in the North Cascades: Devils Junction to Canyon Creek

Here's a fun trail run: take a boat from Ross Lake via the Philosophizing Captain Luke to Devil's Junction.  Run the first 6 miles gaining 4,500 feet and reaching almost 7,000 feet to Devil's Dome, descend the dome into a snowy cold valley with icy rivers.  Ascend again.  Descend again.  Ascend again to almost 7,000 feet.  Run the last 7 miles (mostly downhill and flat to Canyon Creek.  Whew.  What a run!  The views were beyond incredible.  The climbs were steep, snowy, rocky, icy, and slow.  I mentioned a few times too many, "This must be the last climb," um, nope!  Prompting us to come up with some phrases to never say on a run, lest you bring the wrath of the trail running gods:

This has to be the last hill
It's all downhill from here
There will be more water after this stream
I'm almost back to the trail head
I can leave this jacket in the car
I won't need these gels
Couldn't get any wetter, colder, rockier, windier, harder, steeper....than this
(any other ideas people?)

What we expected to be lightly rolling terrain after mile 6 was actually a series of climbs and descents.  Not rolling, more like spiking.  Yet, it was definitely worth the effort.  If you want to try this trail, give yourself extra time to complete the run, pick a sunny day and run it before the snow comes, sometime in October or November.  We had a mostly light dusting of snow on some of the North slopes and a lot of ice in the valleys in October this year (the 17th).   Here are some pictures from the run. 
Leaving the Ross Lake Parking lot, taking the trail to the "ferry"

William and James waiting for the ferry, Ross Lake

Views from the lake
 Click on "read more" to see more pictures!

Ross Lake

On the ferry, a small motor boat

Candice and James, trying to stay warm without bringing too many clothes for the run.

Luke, the Philosophizing Ferry Boat Captain, "You can still smoke if you have a head of raw garlic a day."  Cool guy.


I took this picture to illustrate how cold it was.  See all that blue??

Devil's Junction...beware runners, beware!

Ferryman and James philosophizing some more

pretty incredible foliage on the trees around 2,000-4,000 feet elevation

The views began early in the run, only about 2 miles up.  The first mile had 1,400 feet elevation gain though!

Candice running...

William running...

James running...

 I was trying to show the water frozen in unusual shapes in this little stream.  Click on picture to see closer.
Can't complain with these views!!!!!

Some of the snow we encountered

William and James, thanks for humoring me on all the pictures guys.

Worth the climb?  Devil's Dome

More views from Devil's Dome

Devil's Dome, ascending

descending Devil's Dome

We are getting close to water, time to refill

Refilling water bottles

Devil's Pass

 It's looking pretty cold here!  Brrrr.  Glad I brought my jacket, gloves, and hat!
 Are we really climbing up there?

 I wore my Nike Free 5.0 today mostly because I have a blister from my sportivas from last weekend.  The Nikes were totally cozy on the run.
 William places bets on James getting bloody on his "ski" down the shale slope.  William and I opted to watch.
 Somewhere up there is James.  I took a video if the "ski" down the shale, but I was so far away and my phone's video so small you really can't see him in it. 
 Alright, where are we? James the navigator and map maker.
 James and Candice, Jackita Ridge
 Candice, James, William ascending Jackita Ridge, coming up to 7,000 feet....again

 Look closely, William is surrendering to the mountain.  I am saying, this MUST be the last climb!  It MUST!!!
 William surveys his Master, the mountain after surviving the climb.
 All downhill from here...Jackita Ridge to Canyon Creek. We were something like 8-9 miles from the trail head.
 River crossing
 Bridge to trail head, almost back, and it's getting dark!
 My shoes, Nike 5.0, not your average trail shoe, customized to pink shoelaces.  Nike Frees are a minimal running shoe, an alternative to barefoot running.
William crosses the bridge to Canyon Creek trail head

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