This past weekend I had the opportunity to meet up with Patagonia Ultra-runner extraordinaire Ty Draney for a nice outing in the mountains. Our family was headed up to the in-law's cabin near Palisades Idaho. Given that Ty lives fairly close to that it just made sense to get together. Our planned route involved about 21 miles, of which roughly 16 miles was unknown to either of us. Our goal was to run past the Palisades Lakes, up Waterfall Canyon, over the ridge line into Cabin Creek which would lead us to Big Elk Creek very close to my in-law's cabin. Instead of boring you with a detailed description I chose some pics and video of the run to show the beauty and potential of this run.
Ty setting the pace up along the shores of upper Palisades Lake. We then headed up waterfall canyon, where we started to encounter snow (uh-oh).
We found a poor soul who didn't make it through the winter.
Ty had just explained how he thought the moose had died, I am not sure what lead to this expression.
Although we weren't exactly sure where we needed to go, the scenery was great.
Routefinding became difficult as the snow got deeper, here Ty points the "way"
After running in the snow on the ridge for quite some time we committed to what looked like the correct way to descend and made speedy time over the remaining snow.
We discovered fairly quickly that the canyon we had chosen was not the one with the trail leading down cabin creek, which meant we had descended into "hell's hole" according to our map. Even though it had an ominous name it turned out to be beautiful, but trick with some steep descents.
Mandatory creek/waterfall jumps. Here Ty makes an expert leap which at first glance seems straightforward, but if you look close about 4 ft to his right the landscape drops away. This was the only way down and it required this jump right at the top of a 30 ft waterfall. After his success Ty simply said, "don't fall."
Now back to business.
Great picture that shows what we just descended, we were treated to many amazing waterfalls.
Hell's Hole didn't really live up to it's name until the last mile, which turned into a serious bushwhack through nearly impenetrable willows. In a moment of desperation Ty attempted the creek route, which worked well until the stream dipped to beyond acceptable depths. We then just pushed on until we hit the Big Elk Creek Trail.
In the end the run turned out to be incredible, it took us longer than anticipated but with several miles of the trail under snow coupled with a couple of route finding mistakes and not having been on the loop prior, it wasn't a big deal. I think we were very lucky to get to see all of the bonus scenery in Hell's Hole that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. You truly cannot have much better experience than a day in the high mountains traveling under your own power!