*This would be the best section to bike, about a 10 mile ride to Sandy Beach subdivision.
As I mentioned before, the magic of compression socks is something to behold. After Day One’s efforts, I had staggered off to the shower, had a good supper and even did the dishes before putting on the very tight and fashionable knee high socks and getting some rest. The theory is that they push the lactic acid up out of your legs. I have no idea if that’s what they do, but I am living proof that wearing them after a long run means you wake up the next morning with legs that feel almost OK. And that’s what happened. I woke up at 6 a.m., my legs felt great (as compared to how I expected them to feel) so it was a quick breakfast and tea and then Pam shuttled me to the west end of the trail near Cold Lake.
I wore the “fashionable “compression socks to run in as some say they actually help ward off tiring of the muscles. I have tried them before and am not convinced it works, but was willing to try it again. I’m still not sure if they slowed the rate of muscle fatigue but they did protect my ankles from the lower shrubbery for the half day I wore them, until I switched into a dry pair of socks. It is quite the look! Especially on a day that got up to 28 degrees.
If you ever get up to Meadow Lake park and are going to hike part of the trail, this is the part you want to do. It’s 10 miles from the start shown above to Sandy Beach. The trail goes through a diverse variety of forests, running along the Cold River for much of it and the trail is fantastic. It has two back country sites, BT 1 and BT 2. Both are nice but BT 2 might just be the best site on the entire trail. This section is by far, my favorite part of this trail.
Near the start, it’s open poplar forest with a bit more understudy but easy to run.
A short three miles in and the trail takes you to the river and BT 1, shown below. A very nice site on a ridge overlooking the river. There is a fire pit and a bear locker and lots of great sheltered spots to put your tent but still open enough so if there is a breeze, it will keep some of the bugs at bay. (the river would be off to the right in the photo)
From BT 1 to BT 2, the trail goes through more of an open forest and goes along a ridge in one part with the river on your left and a small lake on the right. The views are amazing.
These trail signs were very helpful. It was nice to see how far away I was from the next place I was trying to get to and it saved dragging my map out of my pack. The aerial photo was a nice touch so you could see what was coming as you went forward.
This is the campsite at BT 2. It’s a sandy point, excellent tent sites, nice beach area and I could see this as a place worth returning to. The only down side is it can be reached by 4X4 and it appears many folks forgo the walk in and just drive. Having said that, other than a couple beer cans along the trail, the site was clean.
BT 2 is just a couple hundred yards off the main trail so after a short stop to check out the site, I was off again on a beautiful trail with great views of the lake and I kicked up several deer in the next section.
A short time after the above photo, the trail goes out to the road to bypass a wet area and then after a short run, ducks back into the bush and back to the lake shore again. You then have the option of doing a longer loop or follow the shore to the Sandy Beach boat launch. I opted for following the shore line and came to a muskeg right before Sandy Beach. The beavers had been busy, there was no signage (probably a result of the many beaver felled trees) and after several failed attempts thwarted by deep water, I finally located the right trail which took me to the shore of the lake. A short run down the beach, a hop over a small stream and I was at the boat launch. I had cached some extra grub and water just off the road so after picking that up, I had a 1 km skidder trail before I joined the Humphrey Lake Trail which goes past the lake and to a lookout tower. The Humphrey Lake Trail is a nice section of single track and more like one would think about when talking hiking trails.
This is Humphrey Lake from the trail:
The Humphrey lake tower:
I was out there so long, I grew a beard (sorta), which is impressive considering that I have been shaving since I was 12 and cut myself both times.
I took a few pictures from the top, did the touristy enjoy the view thing and then was off. Of interest, on the way in to the tower, I ran past two people hiking in to the lookout. I’m sad to report that they were the only people I would see on the trail in my travels.
The trail was still good after the Humphrey Lake tower, more of an ATV trail but in good shape. It wasn’t that far and then it went out onto an old road. This was also a nice but short section and areas along the road had been cleared for cattle grazing some time back. From the look of the current growth, my guess is that this area is no longer grazed.
This old road joined another much straighter and heavier used road that went out to the main road. This was where things started to heat up as there no longer was any shade. The main road is down at the far end in the photo below:
If you look at the sign below, I had come out on Highway 21 just south of the junction to Sandy Beach (and lower down than the “you are here” on the sign). The trail runs parallel to the road and was very overgrown. The thought of a long run through knee high brush didn’t inspire me as I was tired for some reason. In hindsight, I wish I had fresher legs and had run it but instead, I opted to go down the road so the trail may have improved but I never got to see it.
The trail followed the road to cross the bridge over the channel between Pierce Lake and Lepine Lake and the next section along the shore of Lepine was brand new. I was hoping it wasn’t another skidder trail but I wasn’t so lucky. I should note here that it had been a busy fire season which most likely diverted time away from trail maintenance and also, it would be easier to hike these sections than run them.
The trail was fine when I first left the main road but when I got closer to the lake, the area had been burnt and my shade disappeared.
This is BT 3. I took advantage of the river out front to take my shoes off and lie down in the water for a 5 minute break. This is the view from the site down to the water:
The burn went on for a bit longer and then I got into some green timber for a much needed break from the hot sun.
I then came to a creek crossing where a handy beaver dam and a short homemade bridge kept my feet dry.
The trail past here was an old road and another nice but short section:
The trail then goes out and crosses the main road through the park. I had high hopes for this section north of the main road as I knew it was an old road so hopefully, it would make for good running.