The first full day in Silverton I usually take it pretty easy with an easy run/hike of 8km or so. But I usually have 3 weeks of acclimatisation (or acclimation as the locals prefer to call it). With just under 2 weeks I need to maximise my opportunities. After a rough night of little sleep due to a combination of altitude, time zone shift, and being cold, I headed out early on what will be the last part of my journey, along Beaver Lake trail. (I will add pics when I get better wifi-I forgot how bad dial-up was.)
After navigating the massive motor homes 'camped' at Kendall Mt ski hill I hit the trail proper. Seriously you have to question the point. These buses are more luxurious than my house. In fact some probably have more floor space. No exaggeration. Some of the cars they tow are massive 4wds, dual cabs!
The old 'original' (I think there may have been an earlier iteration) that split in 2 around 2009 due to water freezing in the drill holes and expanding, has been cemented back together and put on display under a little pergola. It is a fitting shrine for such an historic symbol of the race.
Next door is another shrine to the Silverton 6 day/1000 mile race. I'm not kidding. There is a short loop trail that goes up and around the small ski hill, the Kendall Trail. This is the site of the annual 6 day race. Wow. Unbelievable. The shrine is really cool, with an historic miners trolley on a short section of train track. Welded on the side is a metal plate emblazoned with the race logo.
The trail was magical. The early morning sun streamed down between the tall spruce, creating little clouds of steam where it hit the wet ground. The little beaver dam was a mirror of the blue sky and patchy low clouds. It was truly therapeutic hiking and running through the forest in the early morning light with the trees still dripping from the nights rain. The scent was what I imagine those air fresheners are trying to replicate. Except this was the real thing. Drink it in.
I made it easily to Arrastra Creek. It was flowing strong and clear. I thought about turning back but felt good so waded into the shin deep torrent. Oh my dog, I had forgotten how cold these mountain streams were.
Joining the jeep road on the other side I spotted my first Hardrock course marker. Makes it very real. I followed the jeep road up, up until a junction I wasn't sure about (no markings here for reverse direction). I went right but should have gone left. I wasn't overly concerned, I just wanted time on my feet in the mountains and I got to explore the valley to the east of the one the course follows.
A procession of all terrain vehicles (mostly rentals out of Silverton) buzzed past me intermittently. These quad bikes on steroids spoiled the ambience somewhat but it would be hard to detract from such a spectacular hike.
I turned around when I hit 3,600 metres in view of the pass ominously perched at the head of the valley. I am not sure if there is even a navigable pass up there but I could see where it should be.
I kept the descent leisurely and took some more photos. All up around 17km+ in about 4.5hrs. Felt good. Count down continues.