A different start

"We are going to meet at FL1 on hwy 30 behind la quinta" began the subject line of Ann's email. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't surprised. I had suspected we would start from that odd trailhead in its junky, industrial location. Hidden behind a hotel you wouldn't want to visit and starting with a concrete Jersey barrier, you would never know it's there-- and you certainly wouldn't be tempted to follow the gravelly path-- unless you had taken it before.


Mt Hood and the sun rising as we start to climb FL1
We must have talked about the one time we ran it-- with Willie McBride of Animal Athletics, during their Mountain Goat Hill Running series (which, by the way, was fantastic)-- during our long run the previous weekend. Once stirred awake, the memory of that long, rambling, rarely-traveled trail could not be dismissed. Sure, it's a climb, but most of it is rolling and runnable, and it's just so different from other fire lanes and most of Forest Park's trails that it is utterly charming.

Ann at the very top of FL1
Ann's route took us all the way up Fire Lane 1 to the top; it's rare and fun for us to bag the entire length of a trail like that. Even better, when we got up to Leif Erikson, about halfway up, we saw a group of three runners who said hello... and then recognized our friends! It was wonderful to see their smiling faces and chat for a few minutes before we all got cold and continued on our runs. The serendipity renewed my legs for the steep part of the climb up to Wildwood and beyond, to NW 53rd Dr. Then we got to take Morak down-- one of my favorites because it's ridiculously short (.08 mi) and pointless, with a name like an alien.

The perfect picnic spot on FL4
From there we did a good, regular loop, but from Maple we took Fire Lane 4 all the way back down to its trailhead off Highway 30-- a section and trailhead we had never done. There was a flat, grassy landing partway down FL4 that was open, with gorgeous views. In the sunshine, under the open blue sky, it would make the perfect spot for a picnic or a rest. I snapped a photo and we vowed to return.

Mt Rainier, stunningly clear
The lower trailhead of FL4 connected with Saltzman-- a neat loop and another new section of trail for us. Then we had to climb all the way back up to Wildwood, and up my nemesis hill between mile markers 13 to 11, before bombing down FL1 to the end. That was the plan, anyway, but some of the steepness, parts of the path still icy, and those rolling hills that on the way up had provided welcome downhill... well, all of that made for a painful but adventurous end. What a route! It had a little bit of everything and a lot of great, challenging climbs. Definitely my favorite route in a long time.

Trail sign without a trail name

fl1 - 53rd 2.29
fl1 - morak .08
morak - ww .10
ww - alder 1.3
alder - leif .84
leif - maple 2.7
maple - fl4 .97
fl4 - saltzman .34 
saltzman - maple .45
maple - leif 1.28
leif - fl7A 1.6
fl7a - ww .25
ww - fl1 (22 - 11.20) 8.8
fl1 - car 1.96
total 22.96


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Yellow Jackets, Bears and the route from Salmon River to Timberline Lodge

The Wallowas

Doing the (North) Nasty and then some

Mt. St. Helens Circumnavigation

Snowy Goat Rocks