Dumb TV Weather forecasts... all the hype about rain and snow coming kept me out of the mountains for the day.
Woke up to blue skies in Mt. Vernon and could see cloudless blue all the way to the western horizon.
Decided to make a first visit to the Anacortes Community Forest Land (ACFL) area because 1) no one ever says a disparaging word about it and 2) I haven't been there before.
That turned out to be a good decision.
The weather was favorable all day AND I turned my hike into an 8 mile Trail Run.
Why would someone want to do that? Well, let me tell you.
Next weekend I'm running in my first half marathon. My training schedule calls for a long run on Saturdays... today's run was supposed to be 8 miles.
You can imagine that I wasn't too excited to spend the day hiking and then have to come home and pump out 8 miles in the dark.
Other people do trail runs, I used to trail run all the time with the cross country team in my younger years... so why not give it a shot today?
Brought all my hiking stuff that I thought I might need for a hike in the ACFL, but also brought my running clothes & shoes... just in case.
Upon arriving at the Heart Lake main parking area the weather was beautiful, albeit cold, and there were only two other cars in the lot.
Unsure of the trail conditions but the immediate area around the lake looked pretty tame for elevation changes... so I chose to don the running gear and give it a go.
The primary disadvantage of trail running is that you don't take nearly as many photos as you might while hiking. I took a total of four pics. With my phone camera.
The miles took almost 50% longer than my regular jogging pace which really surprised me. I was expecting 1 or 2 minutes longer per mile, not 4 minutes longer.
Back to the trail info:
The trails were very nice, but as you really need to have the ACFL Maps to know where you are. Their trails are numbered and pretty well signed... but you don't know where where your trail leads to unless you have the secret map. They don't have map signs along the trails - only the trail #'s.
My route went like this: Trail #210 to #212 (a full loop clockwise and then continued) to #220 to #249, then reverse (but doing #212 clockwise again back to #210 with a diversion out and back on #213).
The 212 loop was done twice so I could reach my needed 8 mile distance.
Part of the cause of my slow running pace was that I had to keep stopping to look at the map to determine where I was and where I wanted to go.
The viewpoint over Lake Erie (trail #249) was nice and worth the effort (although I tripped just after that and came inches from landing on my arm - certainly would have broken it - but managed to get my footing back (awkwardly) and spared that drama).
The viewpoint midway between Heart Lake and Lake Erie (Trail 213) had no view at all. It was a high point, but the person who claimed there was a view must have been visiting at night. While drunk.
Saw a total of about 10 people during my 2 hour visit.
Maps of the area can be purchased at the Lake Erie store (as others reported) but you can download pdf versions for free from the Pacific Northwest Trail Association website. Go do it now so you have them before you jump in the car.
Route (courtesy of the Garmin that Santa brought!):
Finished up just after noon. Way too early to head home, so opted to make a first visit to Fort Ebey, located further south on Whidbey Island. No more running... a bit of walking and lots of pics. Coming soon to a TR near you.