Monday, July 30, 2012

Gales Creek

21 July 2012 An impromptu decision to spend the weekend at the coast (Susan) meant that we were scrambling for running ideas. We had planned to run a Bald Mountain/ Ramona Falls route that Ann had scoped out, so I started to look for something that was halfway between the coast and Portland. I would've driven back to the city if I had to-- there was no way I would get 20 miles in by myself at the coast.

View from the top, at Bell Camp Road
I found a description of the Gales Creek route (PDF map here) in an old email newsletter from Portland Running Company. They started including a trail feature in each issue, so I've been saving them for just such an occasion.
Then I mapped it, and it turned out to be an hour and twenty minutes drive from where I was staying-- nearly as long as driving home to Portland!
Dana, Ann & Susan-- we crested the hard part!
Still, a new trail was alluring, so we went with it. Ann and I met at the trailhead, which was a little confusing as it's basically at a campground. We waited for Dana, who had gotten almost there, was certain she had missed it, and drove back to civilization to ask for directions and a map.
But we got out there, and it was great. We did a 6.5 mile out (and then 6.5 miles back) on Gales Creek Trail first, so that with the 7 mile loop with Gales Creek and Storey Burn, we'd have 20 miles. Dana did the first out-and-back, and an additional half mile out with us before turning around, to get 14 miles.
One of many lovely little waterfalls along the trail
The first out-and-back was rolling hills on a newly cleared trail that ran along the side of series of steep ridges. Then we really climbed, up to about 2,800ft to Bell Camp Rd. The way back was much nicer-- mostly downhill. Lots of little waterfalls and stream crossings. We ran into a handful of mountain bikers, and a pair of people on horses. Not too crowded at all.
Amazing amounts of fallen trees, recently cleared away from the trail
The loop was a different story. We ran into a few groups of people off of some main trailheads, but mostly we saw no one. There were some amazing vistas down into forested valleys, and a fun crossing under Highway 6. Then we came to some trail splits that weren't on my map. We made educated guesses, and it seemed okay until we came out onto a strange gravel yard, that should've been a trailhead. We scouted around a bit, then found a trailhead and a sign that proclaimed a trail runner's worst nightmare: ATV RACE TODAY!
The easy way to cross (under) Highway 6
The gas fumes, dust clouds, grating noise and dodging vehicles made this confusing detour even worse. We ran around the parking lot, looking for the continuation of our trail, a sign, a map, or just a safe way to cross Highway 6. Finally we had to run back the way we came, out to the highway, and time it right to sprint across. Phew! We got back on the trail, mostly downhill to the end. Once we left behind the noise of the ATVs and motorbikes, we really enjoyed the wilderness feeling of what turned out to be a beautiful 21 mile run.
Well, 20 miles of it was beautiful-- the extra one running around the ATV camp was not!

1 comment:

  1. Rolling Hills my ass. Rolling would imply equal down to the up.

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