A week ago I woke up at ~6:15 in Big Basin to @LaurBreu shouting “Time to get up for morning run!”. It was significantly colder than any recent morning in San Francisco. I put on three layers and joined about a half dozen other fellow #NPSF campers; I think we finally got going about 6:45. When I returned to camp I had completed my longest trail run to date, most of it solo.

a photo.

We ran down to the park headquarters, checked out the trail options, and quickly decided on Berry Creek Falls, whick seemed about another 4.5 miles away. There was a brief debate about whether to do a full 9 mile loop or run back after a halfway point.

Everyone started down the trail at a fast clip. In less than half a mile I had lost sight of them. After about a mile, I saw one friend come back, she'd noted beforehand that she had to cut short for another engagement. Not long after I saw another friend walking back, apparently having twisted her ankle running. After that I didn’t see anyone else on the trail.

I kept running, stopping a few times to take photos. After making it about 3/4 of the way to Berry Creek Falls, I kept expecting to see the rest of the group running back. With just 1 mile to go I decided to keep going all the way to the falls. Made it to a bench with a beautiful view of the falls, yet it looked like I could get closer.

The trail meandered downhill closer to the creek eventually to a large fallen tree. To my right was a large boulder embedded in the ground that looked too slippery to descend down to the flowing water.

I crossed the creek with the fallen tree as bridge. On the other side I had to jump down to another fallen tree, then down to the creekbank where the path continued back towards the falls. Hiking up I finally got close enough for a better view.

At this point I had no idea where everyone else had gone. Last I had heard the plan was to run to the falls and run back. Since I was on my own, and after all the wandering about 5 miles away from the park headquarters, I decided the best option was to run back the way I came.

I ran back to the fallen tree. But this time I crossed the rocks in the stream to the large boulder on the other side. At about a 60 degree incline, with plenty of ridges to grab, and chips to dig my feet into, I climbed up the boulder without difficulty.

On the run back the layers came off until I was running in a tshirt and sweatpants, the rest tied around my waist.

I’d never run this far by myself, in a new place, miles away from help or other resources. No headphones, no network contact. A lot of time to just think, run, and focus. Focus on running, on keeping a good pace, and regular breathing.

It was good to see landmarks that I had passed on the way in. I’d counted three trail markers, and as I passed each one on the way back I sipped just that much from the remaining water bottle strapped to my waist.

About halfway back I finally started to see people coming the other way. Hikers. With jackets, backpacks, and hats.

As we exchanged good mornings and they stopped to stand back as I ran by, I couldn't help but think, I used to be you, now I'm this.

I reached the trail head at park headquarters, checked a map for the road back to the camp, and ran uphill the rest of the way.

The trail was estimated to take ~6 hours. I ran ~11 miles from camp to the waterfall and back in under 2.5 hours.

At some point in the last few months apparently I changed from a hiker to a trail runner. It felt more comfortable, and was more fun, to run the trail than walk it.

on (ttk.me t4a81) using BBEdit