This year's edition of the Baker Lake 50k had plenty of sun; terrific views of one very large, glaciated volcano across the lake; and for the first time in a couple years, a brand new bridge across Hidden Creek. And it is a wonderful bridge—the waterfalls below are striking, dropping into several terraced pools. The significance of the bridge: once again, the course goes the full length of the lake, and back. Very cool.
Of particular note this year, I saw what seemed to be a larger than usual variety of mushrooms/fungi on the trail. Orange jelly fungi on logs, like witch’s butter. Those brown clusters of puff ball spores, that explode if you step on them. Purple and red mushrooms that have to be toxic, or magical, or bad news, or something. Chantrelles, oysters. I don’t know all the names of what I saw, but they were out in force, right along the trail. It was the variety and the colors that caught my attention.
Baker Lake is the quintessential northwest trail run, with massive old growth cedars along the trail, the occasional log lying over the trail, short, slippery log foot bridges, whitewater creeks, and wet undergrowth lining narrow single track. It’s difficult to explain to someone who has not run the event why it is not a really fast 50k course--there isn’t a lot of elevation gain--but it isn't. It's not slow, but it's not fast. A lot of things bring the pace down, like hopping roots and rocks, crossing over creeks on slippery bridges and logs, and maybe the fact that there is only one aid station, at the midway turnaround. The return back can sometimes stretch out.
Shawn, Tony and all the volunteers do a masterful job putting this race on. **Thank you!!**
This was my first ultra event in about four months, after injuring myself in New Mexico. I’ve spent plenty of time running trails in the North Cascades this summer, but not at events, or at a sustained pace for 30 miles. I had little idea of what to expect of myself. So, the good news is, the back held up well. After the first few miles, I found myself able to hold a steady pace, more or less. I faded in the last five to seven miles, and this was probably due to running out of water. Nonetheless, I was happy with my run, and really, it was just great to be on one of my favorite trails, at my favorite event, with so many other friends out there.