Wow! As anticipated, Big Basin Redwoods was an amazing place for a trail run – ancient redwoods, spectacular waterfalls, challenging singletrack – another great event by Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR)! Running the 25k distance, I knew the course would be hilly, technical, and rugged (i.e. tough) so I figured 2 hours was a nice round number to peg as my goal. It turned out to be a pretty good benchmark as I came in slightly under that time in 1:58:59. I felt decent throughout and better on the uphill sections than last weekend. Berry Creek Falls pictured below from PCTR website.
Driving to the park, I was amazed to see that it was already 70 degrees on Skyline Ridge at 7 am in the morning, nearly double the temperature experienced the previous Saturday (38 degrees). Fortunately, the temperature cooled as I descended into the basin and bottomed out in the low 50’s at the starting area (comfortable). However, the sections of the course that ascended the ridges were noticeably hotter and muggier, especially in the two open areas.
The course entailed a 17k loop and a 9k loop, both beginning at the start/finish area, with 3,090 feet of total elevation gain. The first part went up a small hill and was followed by about 3.5 miles of downhill to spectacular Berry Falls on the Skyline to the Sea Trail (preview of the full 50k trail). I had enough time to gaze at the great falls as I was running up the hill beside it, but I wish I had more time to sit and photograph the picturesque scene. After a short section of rolling trail alongside the stream another waterfall appeared. The hill up this one was steeper and involved a section of steps cut into a rock wall with a hand cord, all right beside the waterfall! This was followed by a series of wooden staircases that finally brought me to the intersection with the Sunset Trail which has some ups and downs at first, but finishes with a long 2 mile uphill section that was tiring. I reached the starting area after 17k in about 1:17 and set off for the 9k loop which began fast along the Skyline to the Sea Trail but slowed down once I hit the steep hill on the Meteor Trail. I was happy to reach the high point along the Middle Ridge Road and from here it was about 20 minutes to the finish line! As usual, it was great to snack on the post-race foods and chat with fellow runners.
It was very rewarding to run on the soft, shaded trails amongst the giant Redwoods of this sweet park – a real treat! Thank you PCTR for another awesome day on the trails!