We saw lots of cool nature stuff along the way, including an eagle (or hawk - it was so fast) swoop in front of my car to pick up a mouse. He/she got breakfast and was outta there! We got to the Clayton Beach parking area about 8:00, where there were other like-minded folks getting ready to hit the trails. Weather was great - a little cool, but not bad at all. After doctoring up my feet (moleskin over a pesky sore toe - damn Morton's toe!) we headed off on the trail.
Wrong turns abound
Using the cue sheet from the Chuckanut Race, starting at AS#1, we headed up Fragrance Lake trail. It says to keep right at a junction at 0.8 miles, so naturally we turned right at what looked like a junction. We climbed and climbed and climbed....to a sign that said "Chuckanut Mtn 1000ft". Hmmm...that doesn't seem right. So back down the road/trail we went and back onto the Fragrance Lake trail. We soon came to the right turnoff and headed down to Fragrance Lake. All went well and we went part way around the lake, and headed towards a switch back.
As we started up, we heard some people below us and I recognized Devon's blond pony tail poking out of her Nuun visor. As they approached, I yelled "I know you!" She was running with a guy named Dan, who fortunately had run this route before. We chatted a second, and made introductions all around and headed on. The cue sheet said "switchback at left" so we took the left one. Dan said this wasn't right so we turned around and took the other one. Looking back at the cue sheet, that made more sense - thank goodness we saw them - we really would have been lost! They took off (in fact, I'm sure Devon was back in Seattle eating a homemade meal by the time we finished!) and we proceeded forthwith. We got to Cleator Road and climbed that for a while. At the turnoff onto the "scary" trail, we saw a stash of two water bottles and lots of gels behind a post. We hit the scary trail which turned out not to be so scary and full of amazing views. It was quite technical with lots of roots and some big potentially slippery rocks. I did manage to roll the ankle a couple of times but not too bad. We were getting impatient for the turnaround and my stomach was starting to not feel so good. About a quarter mile before the junction at Dan's Traverse, a guy named Rick came up behind us. We stopped to talk to him and ask about the trail. He was quite a talkative guy and the longer we stood there, the colder I got. I just wanted to keep moving and in retrospect, I should have asked if we could walk and talk at the same time. We were all headed the same way so why not? Anyway, he was really helpful and gave us an option to bypass Chinscraper and head back to the car. Eventually he took off and we headed on where we saw our long awaited turn around to head back south.
Mud, streams, hills
The Lost Lake trail was described as having a stream running down the middle of it and to be prepared to get your feet wet. Indeed there was a stream, but it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. Could have been because the weather was so nice, but we went through it with minimal wetting of feet. When we hit the mud, that wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I think that's because of Capitol Peak mega fat ass - even though I only did 8 miles. Since then, any muddy trail has paled by comparison! We got to the junction where we had the option to short cut to the car. Chris said he really wanted to try chinscraper and thought it wouldn't be that much further. I agreed and off we went up a trail towards Fragrance Lake.
Soon, after some awesome downhills (thought I'd never say that with my bad ankle!), we came to the inobvious trail and started up Chinscraper. We had been told by Rick to watch out for mountain bikers but none appeared - just a couple with chainsaws doing some trail work. I called it the Bellingham Chainsaw Massacre. Chinscraper was a grunt and met all my expectations. We came out at Cyrus Gates overlook (more awesome views!) where there was lots of snow and bathrooms. After a quick pit stop, we headed down Cleator Rd. Unfortunately, we didn't take the Fragrance Lake trail (sharp left after the gate); instead we pounded down this road for far too long, eventually connecting with the interurban trail. We had to go a couple more miles to get to the car, but they were runnable and flat. A guy coming towards us stopped me and asked if I had seen some water bottles. The ones we saw earlier were his and some scum butt bastard had stolen them. He was out of water and gels. I gave him a gel - that totally sucks! Hope he's okay.
The Fat Lady Sings - It's Over
We finally arrived at the car and while Tracy changed clothes in the bathroom, I laid in the parking lot and elevated my tired feet on my car bumper. I proudly left a huge wet spot of sweat on the pavement! We were going to try and find beach access to soak our legs, but it had gotten so late, we decided to just go home.
I was so glad we did this, despite getting lost. Also, I did it on semi-tired legs, since I did a ten mile run yesterday morning (at dawn) and helped out all morning at a ChiWalking workshop. Good to know that I can do this course and if I taper, I might even enjoy it more!