Monday, June 3, 2019

Camping & Trail Running at Lewis & Clark Cavern State Park PLUS: My New Big Project

We got a taste of the trails at the Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park back in March during the Expedition 12k race.  We've been to the Caverns before but we had no idea that this awesome trail system exists until then.  After that race we knew we had to go back and check out the trails on our own terms (in other words - not worrying about passing people or being passed).
The best part about going back and running/hiking the trails when not under pressure of a time clock is making up for all the missed opportunities to get awesome pictures, so most of this post is just that... trail porn.  But there is also a sneak peek at our upcoming project.
We drove in on Friday night after work and got the camp set up just in time for sunset pics.  Fires in Canada had blown in a thick layer of smoke that took over most of the state all day Friday.  You can tell it is a little hazy but by the end of the day at the campground it was at least a little better.
Mitch just can't resist the opportunity to be a goof when I take his picture.  This was home for the weekend.  The best thing (but hardest to get used to) was pretty much no cell service. 

Saturday morning the skies had almost cleared out of the smoke, much to my relief.  However, I slept in too long and didn't get out for the run until close to 11:00 am.  It was already quite warm and humid.  I've never been in a group campground that stayed quiet so late in to the morning.  I NEVER get to sleep in when we go camping and this trip I slept late both mornings!
The trail system is mapped out well and these signs are posted at most junctions along the trail.  To get the mileage I was aiming for I planned to do a full loop along the outside perimeter of the park and then turn around and go the other way.  That isn't quite the way things went but I still ended up with the 15 miles I had intended.  Mitch was having some knee pain and wasn't sure about a long run so on my first loop he set out for a mountain bike ride.  

Just a few beautiful pictures from my day on the trails. 

Here's where I tell you about our project!  I'm so excited!  While I was getting a few great pictures on my phone camera, I also took the GoPro.  Coming soon: RunWhichWay on YouTube!  Since we haven't done this before, I expect the first video to take a week or so to piece together and turn my clips in to an experience worth watching.  Unfortunately I had major technical difficulties with the sound quality so on the first edition we will have to find a way to work around that.  I'm looking forward to sharing our adventures in action.  Stay tuned because blog followers will get the first look!

I tried a new run fuel this trip.  Pictured below is Spring Energy Canaberry and I also tried the Long Haul.  Long Haul tasted too much like peanut butter and I wasn't a fan, but the Canaberry was very similar to one of my favorite running fuels made by CLIF.  But this is better because the package is much more manageable in size.  Spring Energy is made of natural ingredients and more "real food" than the typical gels.  This one (and maybe all of their flavors) is Vegan.  They are a bit pricier than Gu or Hammer, running about $2.30/package.  The ingredients are worth the extra few cents.

One last pretty spot in the last mile of my first loop....

I didn't take pictures on the second loop of the run and I probably should have since Mitch came with me and we took a different trail.  It was a physical struggle climbing to the Upper Visitors' Center a second time and I wasn't thinking much about the view any more.  I did a total of 15 miles and over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

I was super tired by the end of it.  Not to mention very dirty!!  Thankfully the campground had showers - worth every bit of the $3 for 6 minutes to wash off the bug spray, sunscreen and trail dirt.

We will definitely camp there again.  If you haven't been to the Caverns the tour is very cool if you don't mind dark places and bats.  As you can see, the trails are amazing all by themselves and it doesn't cost anything to hike/bike/run on them unless you stay in the campground.  Go check it out!