My trail winds up and down the mountain side, always following the the waters edge around the lake. As I run, my feet feet crunch over dry leaves, small rocks and an occasional acorn. My stride lengthens at times to cross the many small creeks that trickle down the mountains side and eventually empty into the lake.
About a mile into the trail is one of my favorite little coves. There is a sandy bottomed beach and a small bench right next to the path. We used to come tie the boat up here and swim for hours. The real draw though were the bear caves just 20 feet from the waters edge. I’m sure they weren’t really bear caves but that was what my grandpa called them. He would challenge us to go in to the largest one, all the way to the back. You could stand up insid e of that one and it was damp and pitch black. My childhood memory tells me it went pretty far back, but I know how that memory has a tendency to make everything a little bigger than reality. As the years have passed the mountain side has eroded and the entrances to all of the caves are mostly covered. It’s amazing how many memories and experiences that have helped to shape me into who I am have taken place here at Whiskeytown Lake.
The trail is tough and steep in places. The reddish powder fine dirt lifts and settles into my socks, I know from years of experience that it won’t ever really wash out. But thats a small price to pay for the views this trail offers. At the top of one of one such hill you can see the bridge on the far side of the lake where we can always find smooth water for skiing, even in the middle of the day. You might even be able to make out the little island that we can canoe out to from our campsite. We found a family of deer there and an osprey in its nest just this last June.
I love the down hill scramble. Trying to resist the urge to just go for it full speed ahead, knowing I'll be leaping over a root or dancing over small rocks jutting out in the trail. Lizards scamper into the leaves as my feet pound past but the birds stay up in the trees chatting with eachother, not bothered by us blowing through their neck of the woods. But other than a plane passing overhead and my rhythmic breathing these are the only sounds that break the silence. It is all mine to do what I will with it. Daydream, plan, wish, remember, listen or even just smile. It is quite likely I wont be sharing the trail with anyone else today.
My favorite parts of the trail are where the mountain cuts back into itself and causes the path to wind in and then back out. There are almost always flowers along these parts and the greenery is lush. It's a little cooler for a few feet and often there are little streams . As I wind up and over one ridge and down and around the next bend my heart is pumping and my legs are working hard, but its the good kind of hard. I think if everyone could run on this trail they could be converted to running. It is my own little slice of Heaven.
The end of this trail is a nice shady spot up at the road where you can arrange to have someone pick you up, but if youre like me, you'll be happiest to just turn around and head right back down the way you came. Come join me next time!
* My camera is too bulky to take on a run and I can't seem to go to the trail without wanting to run, so the pictures are just from my phone and not of all the best spots just where it was convenient to take it out of it's little holder and snap a few shots. Maybe one of these days I'll ge my camera in there!