Spring is in the air, but I have already been thinking ahead to the end of summer. We had a great group of folks join us last Labor Day for the Mt Hood adventure, but that adventure has been done several times. A few years ago we did a Steens Mountain loop that was fun (although it was mostly on the gravel loop road). But there are so many places to explore in the beautiful Northwest... where should we head this year?
A few options I've been thinking about:
1. Olympic National Park. There are a lot of trails through this area, but it looks like it might be difficult to find some that go point to point for a reasonable distance to be able to camp in different spots from point A to B to C. In my cursory initial research, it looked like we might need to do slightly longer days to run from one campground to another (20+ miles a day, and that is through some potentially wet and hilly terrain). I've never really explored much of this park, but if people are interested, I am certainly willing to try to come up with some options that could be a mixture of longer or shorter (which might mean out-back) days.
2. Three Sisters: I have run this loop in a day. It's about 47 miles total, and there are really only 2 good access points on the north and south sides. That means we would need to do the run in 2 days (so two 20+ mile days). That is a lot of miles, but ther are only 2 relatively small climbs on the entire loop, with most of it being fairly flat and soft surface trail. I was thinking this could be a Sat and Sun run, with one mandatory day of sampling, and 2 optional nights (for those who actually want to have fun For those who want to camp at the trailhead on Friday night, they could drive down and meet up at the starting point. Those who don't want to head down Friday would need to either book a room in Sisters or get up early and drive down from Portland. Everyone would camp on the south side, and then when we get back to the start point on Sunday afternoon, people could either camp or head home. For me, the opportunity to all hang out together is the reason to do these trips...
3. Wallowas. There are a whole lot of trail options that go into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. I haven't spent any time planning out potential routes, but this has been on my radar screen as a potential destination for Labor Day. It's a bit of a drive to get over there (~6 hours), which is a factor for figuring out timing. If people don't take another day off on the front or back end of the holiday weekend, you will spend 2 half days driving there/back and not get a lot of running in between. But if we did Fri-Mon, we could set up camp on Friday and do an out-back run, then do a couple point-point or long loops on Sat and Sun, then do a morning run on Monday before driving back to Portland.
4. Rogue River. Another one I have been thinking about for a while. The trail that follows the lower river is 30 miles long. There are several different options for doing this, but they would require some planning in the near future if we opted to use some of the wilderness lodges along the river as overnight locations. There aren't a lot of options for car accessible points down to the trail, but it is possible to set this trip up where a raft carries supplies down to the spot we'll be staying. Or if we use the lodges, everyone can travel light and just plan to eat/sleep in the lodges. Or another fun alternative I had thought could be fun is to run the trail from the lower end to the upper end in a couple days and then hire a raft to float back down.
And then there are obviosuly a whole lot of other options that could be considered around the Pacific Crest Trail. It's just a matter of thinking of reasonable distances the group can cover in a day to get from one car camp accessible point to another. Are there other ideas people have?
Most importantly, who is thinking they might be up for a Labor Day run/camp/explore adventure?