Around this time of year for the last number of years our local outdoor shop, Mt Waddington’s runs a contest called the Quest for 10. Well, it’s sort of a contest. Mostly it’s a list of 10 hikes in the area that aren’t the main ones and you do them to get a chance to win a prize.
This Monday I started my Quest for 10, by heading down the PCT out of Manning Park BC, and visiting Monument 78. Monument 78 is the northern most part of the PCT that’s still in the United States. This was my final of three days in a row running. Saturday was a hard run up Gloria with my wife, and Sunday was my regular 10km just to make sure my legs were tired for my long run on Monday. That made the end of Monday just over 60km on my legs in three days. This is by far my biggest set of runs in 2019.
I left the house around 6am so that I could get an early and cool start since the temperature was supposed to climb to 30C or more. I arrived at the trailhead before 0730 and got started on the trail just after 0730. I’ve actually been on a large chunk of this trail a few times before as I’ve raced the Trail Whisperer Mt Frosty Ultramarathon for the last 2 years.
The route starts out pretty flat until about 3km in when you start up an old road where you climb for just over 2km only to start your almost 10km long descent to Monument 78.
Since I’ve been in the area a number of times, I thought I knew what to expect as far as views, but I have to say that this route impressed me. Particularly when I came around a corner to see the two peaks (that are unnamed as far as I can tell) across the border in the US from the edge of the trail.
The trail down to Monument 78 is slightly downhill and crosses numerous small creeks. When I headed out from the car the trail marker said that the trail was flooded, but I managed to run the whole trail without really even getting my shoes wet in the mud that crosses the trail in many places.
At around 6km from the Windy Joe trailhead you’ll find a sign marking the PCT and a toilet if you need one.
The trail meanders along the edge of the ridge that heads up to Mt Frosty and was a delight to run. The hardest part of the trail ended up being the places where the greenery covered enough trail that you couldn’t see where you were stepping. There are a few rocks and little potholes hidden under there so be careful.
At 12km you’ll encounter a lovely bridge over Castle Creek and then you’re almost at Monument 78.
Head slightly to the right through the camping area and past the bear box. It’s about 500m further and you’ll find Monument 78. When I showed up there were a few of our Southern neighbours there and I offered to take a picture of them together after setting up and taking my picture as proof for the Quest for 10.
After a brief chat, and pulling out my Spot to send an okay message to my wife, I turned around and headed back up the trail. While the trail is never very steep, it is consistently up and you’ll gain a few hundred meters by the time you’re back to the campsite.
From their I continued to retrace my steps until I came to the turn off for Windy Joe, which isn’t on the Quest for 10 but was another objective on my list today to add miles and check out a few spots I’ve passed in races but never had the chance to see.
At the top of Windy Joe there is a restored old fire lookout and a picnic bench along with another bathroom. I had some lunch and turned around to head back down the road to my car and the end of my day.
Most of the route back to my car at this point was downhill so I put my poles in my and let myself stride out. I did stop at a few creeks along the way to dunk my hat and cool down a bit. While it never felt crazy hot, the cool water was refreshing.
I got back to my car with just under 6 hours of total time and under 5 hours of moving time under my belt. The distance travelled was just over 30km which makes it my longest distance run since October 2018. From there, I headed up for a refreshing dip in Lightning Lake changed and headed home where I got the chance to take my girls out to play in a local water feature.
I still feel like I need to work on my running on flat ground and this was a great trail for that. Nothing is crazy steep, which is where I do better, so I had to work hard to keep my body going despite wanting to walk a bunch of the day. Still more work to do on that front, but it was a beautiful day, and I think I’ll return to Monument 78 for a camping trip with my family later in the summer.
You can find the full run below.