The day started off with a light chirp of my alarm clock at 6:30am. I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to consume my regular delicious egg, spinach, oatmeal, and blueberries breakfast before my ride was pounding on my door. I slowly made my way out of bed and started creating the breakfast feast. As I was making my eggs I listened to the Lifestyle Business Podcast which is a brilliant weekly podcast that discusses everything to do with how to create a business that will allow you to live the lifestyle that you want. For me that’s trail running, CrossFit, and traveling (just to name a few)! After my breakfast was cooked and cooling I hopped into the shower and cleaned off so I was ready to go get dirty on the trail. The breakfast was amazing, just as it is every morning, and my ride showed up at 8am. I jumped into the car with my other fitness-crazed friends and we headed north east toward the Blanca Lake trail head. Driving up the Cascade Mountain range on Highway 2 is always a beautiful thing, and today the sun was shining and the birds were singing! After driving about a half hour on Highway 2, we cut off onto Forest Road 65 and ventured deep into the woods. The road was mostly dirt and gravel, and we rallied around the corners, leaving a dust cloud in our wake. Finally we made it to the trailhead where we were meeting another group of fitness freaks. I guess we were late because the friends that we were supposed to be meeting had already started their way up the mountain trail.
After spending about 20 minutes prepping our hydration packs and food, we hit the trail. For the first 2-3 miles we kept a brisk hiking pace up the steep mountain side. The trail was almost too steep to run except in select areas where the switchbacks leveled out. The hard hiking felt like doing 100’s of lunges and my quads and hamstrings burned so good! Just before we reached the highest point of the hike, we caught up with our friends who started the hike before us. They looked good and we continued to lunge up the mountain.
At this point the dirt trail turned to snow and opened into a large clearing, and we walked and ran to the highest point of the hike. From there the trail/snowfield dropped back down the other side of the mountain and we slid on our shoes down the slope back into the trees until it opened up onto a small frozen lake. We made our way around it and continued down the mountain. The trail became dirt again and took us down a steep and rocky drop. For most, this is a time to take caution, but for me it’s a time to act like a 10 year old and bound and run down as fast as possible! I bombed down the trail toward Blanca Lake, leaving the others behind me. After a few minutes of hard running, the snow was back and lasted for about a hundred yards before it led us through a few large trees, finally opening up to the amazing Blanca Lake. It was mostly frozen over, but where it was thawed we could see the unbelievable deep green/blue color of the water. It was breathtaking and something that everyone should experience. This beautiful, partly snow-covered lake was tucked into the bottom of a 270 degree mountain range, and the mouth of the lake was pouring into a raging river that snaked out of sight.
We were taking in the amazing view when one of the guys in our group decided it was a good idea to put on his wetsuit and goggles and go for a swim. Sliding down the snow bank like a penguin, he stopped at the water’s edge to decide where the best entry point would be. With only a moment’s hesitation, he dove into the icy blue/green water, swam around for about a minute, and then promptly scrambled out of the water and back up the snow bank to warm up.
We hung out by the lake for another hour while we ate our PB&H sandwiches and drank lake water (that we filtered with a portable filter). Drinking the glacial lake water was amazing! The taste was so crisp and clean. When it was time to start our trek back to the cars, we took a few more swigs of the wonderful water and headed back up the trail, past the smaller lake, and up the snowy path to the peak of the mountain. We continued down the other side until the snow disappeared. Now it was time to run! I flipped into 10 year old kid mode again and started bouncing down the mountain at a blistering rate. The more rugged the trail the better! It just made for a more interesting and fun experience. With the exception of a few short stops, we ran the whole way back, bursting into the parking lot.
Having not been trail running for quite a while, my quads and ankles were tender from all the downhill pounding. It really made me miss my long trail runs along the Hudson river in New Jersey where I’d spend hours perfecting my technical terrain running over the large river rocks. I haven’t yet found anything similar near my home in the Seattle area. If you know of any extremely technical trails close to Seattle, please let me know. I’d love to get out there more often.
If you get a chance, give the Blanca Lake trail a try! It’s a tough workout with a beautiful reward at the top.
Now get outside and have fun by working hard! 🙂