This run was epic in many ways; I wanted time to stand still so I could stay in this moment for the rest of the week. I tested my fitness and came out in one piece which always feels nice. We covered 16 miles with 4000 ft of elevation gain in about 3 1/2 hours. It's a great feeling to be reaching the endurance I previously had before I was injured last summer. My strength training has also given me a huge leg up in the way I feel and handle my weekly miles.
The snow pack was on the heavier side for running and a few sections had us sliding back and forth. The snow was melting fast which made things a little sloppy. On the bright side, this kept traffic to a minimum. I lost my shoe while pinwheeling down the mountain in a particularly ugly section as you can see from the picture below. The grip of the Brooks Cascadia never disappoints.
I had never been to this trail head before but Justin knew this network of ridges well, so he lead the way. He ran 26 miles the day previous so his energy level was on par with mine.
I could make a long list of why this is one of my favorite trail heads but I will keep it short. The entire trail is run-able and there was no power hiking, but we still got over 4000 ft of elevation gain! Now that's a pretty sweet deal if you want to work the right muscle groups. The trail is gradual and forgiving (minus the melting snow) which gave us both a good confidence boost. The Pratt Lake trail head also goes to a handful of other sweet spots that branch off around the first mile, including Granite Mountain, Bandera Mountain, Mount Defiance and Lake Melakwa. We dipped down to Pratt Lake (~6 miles from the trail head) and continued on to a series of smaller lakes, but turned around before Lake Melakwa.
The Pratt Lake Valley was wonderfully warm. We had spent the first leg of the run getting clocked by chunks of snow falling from the trees because the snow pack was melting so it was nice to have a little temperature change. We continued to run past a couple smaller lakes until we got to the base of the climb to Lake Melakwa. We both knew things would get ugly if we didn't turn around soon because we were running out of GU and water. A cloud cover was also lingering and any rain was going to make all the snow a slush fest if we didn't move fast.
We were both happy to reach the ridge above Pratt Lake and descend the last four miles to the car. I had packed 4 GUs and went through 1000ml of water but I could have used more given the vertical miles. Luckily we packed lamb sliders with jalapeno pickle slaw in the car, which might be my new favorite post long-run snack. But honestly, anything tastes good after running for 3 1/2 hours.
Pratt Lake: Exit 47 off I-90
Distance: 12 miles round trip to Pratt Lake, trail continues to Lake Melakwa
Elevation Gain: 4000ft (2300ft to Pratt Lake and back)
I am an outdoor travel junkie with my doctorate in occupational therapy. On Sweet World Travels you will find stories of my life with my husband, the communities we serve, and the many adventures we take.