Friday, October 7th, 2022
Start: Johnston Ridge Observatory
End: Mt St Helens Science and Learning Center
Elevation gain/loss: 5299’/6319′
After a short 20-minute shuttle ride to the trailhead, we started our run all together, with the group splitting off in two directions for the 14- and 24-mile loops. I was running with a lot of anxiety and panic in my body, worrying about being too slow or holding the group back. I wasn’t able to shake the feeling, despite cruising along and keeping up with the faster group in the front.
I opted out of the extra climbs up Coldwater Peak and Mt Margaret, pushing on towards the first water source at ~9-10mi. We’d started our run much later than projected because the shuttles did not leave on time, so the day was much hotter when we started than I’d anticipated. Keeping pace with the group also meant I was pushing harder than I would by myself, so I was sweating more heavily. I ran out of water a few miles away from the first water source; Michael kindly shared an extra 0.5L he had brought with me to tide me over. I filtered up a liter at the spring’s small pools and drank another liter, trying to dig myself out of dehydration. It helped, and then we began crossing water every ~3-4 miles so I was able to catch up with my water needs.
I didn’t see the group pull off to stop for lunch and a swim at a lake, and so I kept going on my own. While I was sad after the fact when I realized I missed the gathering, my anxiety was relieved to be running by myself with no pressure to keep at a particular pace. I expected the group to catch up with me fairly quickly but they never did. I was glad to get over Bear Pass and begin to descend towards Coldwater Lake and the shade surrounding it. Towards the top of my descent on a steeper section of loose trail, I fell onto my back, my feet having slide out from under me due to loose dirt. I made a large dust cloud and got covered in sweat-soaked powdery dirt, but I was unhurt.
I was delighted to be back under tree cover as I got closer to Coldwater Lake; the shade was so welcome after the many miles of exposed trail with relentless sun and 85+ degree heat. I sat to filter water in the shade for a few minutes and then pushed onward. As I circled the lake towards the Mt St Helens Science and Learning Center, I saw Arturo sitting in the shade resting. We talked for a moment and then I pushed on. As I climbed the final set of switchbacks up the hill towards the center, I almost caught up to a group of 14-milers and we arrived at the center right about the same time.
Not too long after we got back, we were invited to take a shuttle down to the lake to go for a swim, since the facility did not have showers. The water was cold but it felt great!