Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Elk Mountain - Kings Mountain loop

Friday Susan and I did our "long run", since she was leaving on Saturday for a 2 week vacation to Ireland. A long run meaning an incremental increase to what I did the week before, since I am slowly easing back into running because of my herniated disc. We ran 2.5 hours / ~13 miles in Forest Park. With the long run done and the long 4th of July weekend ahead of us, I planned a few harder hikes for John and me to do. The first being the Elk Mountain - Kings Mountain loop.

From the top of King Mountain


Saturday John and I headed over to the Tillamook State Forest to hike the Elk Mountain - Kings Mountain loop. In all the years I have spent hiking in Oregon, I had never done this trail, the closest I got was when ran the Wilson River trail last year. Depending on what source you look at the loop is somewhere between 10.5-12 miles with ~3200 feet of elevation gain. But the trail is rated as very difficult because of the terrain 

We decided to hike the loop clockwise, starting at the Elk Mountain trailhead, hiking on the Wilson River trail for 3.5 miles before heading up the Kings Mountain trail. Besides being incredibly steep in places the the Kings Mountain trail was really well maintained and not too overly technical. At this point I figured everything I had read about the trails being difficult was out dated. That was until we started on the trail that connects King and Elk Mountains. 


The top!

The connector trail was over grown, rugged, steep and rocky in places. There were quite a few places that I was using my hands to crawl up and down the rocks, we even had to use a rope at one point to get up the trail. I am thankful that John brought his poles, because I don't know if I would of been able to complete the loop without them. Figuring that once we reached Elk Mountain the trail would get better, I was enjoying the rough unmaintained connector trail.


Climbing up the rope


The top
Again, I was mistaken, the Elk Mountain trail was nothing like the Kings Mountain trail. It is rugged, rough, steep with a lot of loose ground. Again I was on my butt a lot grabbing onto rocks and branches to help navigate myself down the various inclines. I was so happy when we finally reached the Wilson River trail. I said to John, "this trail is bullshit!", but really I enjoyed the unexpected challenge and we had spectacular views from the top of Kings and Elk Mountain. 

After completing the hike, I have a lot of respect for the people who run the Elk - Kings 25k/50k.


From the top of Elk Mountain

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