I grew up in Bellingham, WA and spent a lot of time hiking and mountain biking in the AMAZING sets of trails in the Chuckanut Mountains that creep into town from the south and east. These trails are amazing. The Galbraith (Lookout Mountain) trail system is world famous for Mtn. Biking trails. I spent so much time up there as a teenager, but didn’t realize how good I had it until I moved away.
I never ran those trails though. I hiked the Chuckanuts south of town, backpacking up to Pine, Cedar, Lizard, and Lilly Lakes to camp overnight. Also did Oyster Dome and the Bat Caves a number of times. Amazing trails, amazing views of the San Juan Islands. Beautiful Stuff.
Well, for Thanksgiving my family drove up to Bellingham for the week and my #1 goal was to fit in a trail run in the Chuckanuts. I had my dad drop me off at Larabee State Park and told him I would call about 30 minutes before I descended down to the Pine & Cedar lakes trailhead. I had gone over some maps and thought it would be about 10 miles.
I climbed up the Fragrance Lake Trail first, absolutely giddy with the familiar surroundings, soft dirt under each footfall, dense foliage, etc… I felt at home. I pushed past Fragrance Lake up to Cleator Road, thinking that if I followed it, it would put me up over the ridge to Lost Lake – a lake I never made it to as a kid. Well, I followed the road up, up , up, and finally got to the ridge. Down the other side looked too steep to climb though. IT turns out, if I had just followed the ridge NNE, I could have dropped right down to Lost Lake. Instead, I followed it SSW, eventually descending down the chinscraper trail to where the actual Lost Lake Trail hits…you guessed it…Cleator Road. If I had originally turned right on Cleator, instead of Left, I would have hit this trailhead in about 50 years. Oops. All told – this added about 2 unplanned miles onto my route. No worries. I hit the Lost Lake Trail, from which you can see SW to the ocean for a bit. Then, I took it along the bottom of the ridge I had just traversed the top of in the opposite direction. I made a quick stop to take a look at Lost Lake, then then continued on.
To get to the Pine & Cedar trail I jumped on the Raptor Ridge trail (taking a picture at the overlook) and then followed it to the intersection with the trail that would take me down to where my dad would pick me up. At this point, I look at my GPS and realized that if I instead turned right and went to Pine & Cedar lakes, and THEN down to the car…the total mileage might hit 13.1 – a half marathon. Granted – I hadn’t moved at half-marathon pace and had taken a lot of breaks to take pictures and such, but no matter. Off I went.
The lakes were beautiful as I remember them being as a kid, but the trail down to the trail head was STEEP. I remembered it being steep, but not this steep. And, my knees didn’t like it. By the time I got to the bottom BOTH IT BANDS WERE SCREAMING. NO!!! The dreaded IT Band was back – and now in both knees. This was disappointing.
My family pulled into the parking lot, literally, right as I finished but I made them follow me out to the road so I could hit the requisite 13.1.
13.2 miles @ 13:33 min/mile with 3,789 ft. elevation!
Amazing run. Amazing place. I can’t wait to get back.
Real trails are covered in leaves and moss
Real forests have huge upturned trees
Real trails double as creek beds