Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lizard Head Loop - Cont.

I was dropped off by Tanya at the trailhead at 8:45 am. Assuming the the run would take me a little more than an hour, we agreed to meet two miles down the road at the other trailhead around 10:15 am.

The singletrack trail starts at 10,200' and meanders northeast through an aspen & pine forest for a mile or two, providing sweet views of Trout Lake (top left). It then turns west and some sharp switchbacks lead you to the summit of Blackface Mountain (12,200'). Blackface (top right) has a long, narrow ridge with a superb trail. Running above treeline provided panoramic views that words can't describe. Looking out at Lizard Head Peak was breath-taking with Gladstone Peak (13,913'), Mt. Wilson (14,246'), and El Diente Peak (14,159') as the backdrop. Actually, it could have been the altitude that was taking my breath away.

I started my descent of Blackface while soaking in the views of Lizard Head. After running down through a pine forest and out into an open meadow, I figured this was the closest I'd ever get to it (bottom left). Boy, was I wrong.

At this point I was about 5 miles into my run and I was looking for a trail junction that would take me south to the trailhead to meet up with Tanya. Well, that junction never came. The trail proceeded north...and up towards Lizard Head. I thought I missed it so I started to bushwhack my way to another ridge to see if I could see the trail down. I found nothing but wilderness. There was no other trail to be seen. After returning to the trail, I then backtracked about a half mile thinking I surely missed the junction. Nope.

My two options were to backtrack my entire run by re-summitting Blackface and then running the extra two miles from my starting point to the other trailhead. Or I could continue towards Lizard Head and hope I miscalculated where the junction was.

I chose to continue on. My concern continued to grow as I gained another 1000' in elevation and found myself very close to the base of Lizard Head (bottom right). Lo and behold I came across the junction, now 8.5 miles into my run. Seeing I was already a half hour late from my meeting time with Tanya, I started to cruise down the trail as fast as I could. I finally encountered another hiker and he confirmed I was on the right trail. Phew.

Thirty minutes later and 11 miles from where I began, I arrived at the trailhead to find our car...empty. I looked up and Tanya & the girls were about a half mile away...up a different trail. I continued my run for a bit more so I could meet up and enjoy the remainder of their hike!

All in all I had a blast. There were a few tense moments, but the memory of such an exciting and beautiful run will last a long time.

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