Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Falls were Berry Berry good to me

Coastal Trail Runs scheduled their Big Basin 50 for a Sunday. This race follows the famous (and stunningly fun) Skyline to the Sea trail from Saratoga Gap to the coast. The heart of the race is in Big Basin State Park, which has many amazing trails.

So, they thought, what the heck; let's put on a shorter race Saturday and show off some more of the Big Basin trails.

And that's (more or less) how the Berry Creek Falls 10K, 15K, and 25K races were born. The course was set up as two very different loops:

  • A 15K loop with 2180' of climbing that was almost completely in the woods and followed Berry Creek, which it turned out, falls. A lot.

  • A 10K loop with 1155' of climbing that is the 5 mile loop the 50K runners follow on Sunday, with some bonus trails thrown in to get it to a bit over 6 miles. This loop had a lot more sun exposure than the 15K loop. 

25K runners did the 15K loop then headed back out to do the 10K loop.

I chose to do the 15K loop mostly because I wanted to see the falls. Mrs Notthat did the 10K because she promised her doctor she would take it (relatively) easy.

Baby Coastal would be much happier if I ran the 10K. As usual, he is dubious I will finish any time soon.
Saturday promised to have near-record breaking heat. The 15K course did not have an aid station, although there would be a ranger up on top that would have water for those who had run out. Mr Coastal encouraged everyone to carry a lot more water than they normally would, and several runners grabbed a bonus water bottle for just in case.

The fun thing about the 15K loop was that it was mostly in the trees, which kept it nicely cool. We started by following a creek along the Skyline to the Sea trail up to a view point where you could see Berry Creek Falls.

Berry Creek Falls were pretty, but the dry winter has left them much less aggressive than normal.
At that point we turned up Berry Creek trail where we were treated to several more waterfalls.

The second set of falls.
When a trail is muddy and needs cables for you to hang on to while ascending, you know it's a great trail.

I loved this part of the course, even though it involved a lot of climbing and stopping to take pictures.

The ranger passing out water to any that needed it. I have no idea why that hiker is mooning me.
Eventually we turned onto Sunset trail which left the waterfall-infested creek and presented us with a short stretch of sun-drenched trail, which served as a great reminder of how hot it was. Thankfully we were back into the trees fairly quickly.

As I was getting near the finish, there was a short bit of trail shared by the 10K loop. This 25K runner is heading out to do the 10K loop. Part of me wished I was going to do that 10K loop as well, but a larger, more sensible part of me was thrilled I had opted for being happy with just the 15K distance.

Just before the finish line, there was rookie paparazzi Mrs Notthat, Weird Haired Mom (who you can see was very concerned for my hydration), and Secnarf (not her real name) who was wondering what she had gotten herself into, all at the 25K aid station.

Picture by WHM. Smile by Mrs Notthat.
Mrs Notthat had finished her 10K much earlier, wearing her perfect "A" bib (you're welcome music majors!).

I'm stunned that I'm grabbing air this close to the end of a race. I should have done the 25K. Picture by WHM, or maybe Mrs Notthat. Actually, I think Secnarf might have grabbed the camera and taken this - I wasn't thinking very clearly. Maybe 15K was the perfect distance after all.
I told you it was hot there. Although I think Selym (not his real name) may have overheated his brain working out his splits.

Once I cooled off a bit, we loaded up the trunk and back seat with the supplies for the aid station I would be at the following morning for the Big Basin 50 race. Mrs Notthat and I could have lived off this stuff for several months.

I REALLY liked this race. The trails are amazing - Big Basin State Park is home to a ton of redwood trees, great trails, and of course, the waterfalls. There is a bit of a drive to get here - be sure to allow plenty of time since you will likely end up behind someone that is going very slowly.

The worst thing about this race is that it is followed by the equally fun Big Basin 50, and I suspect many runners would love to do both races. But for those of us that aren't quite up to the 50K or Marathon distance, Berry Creek Falls is a great way to experience this area.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.

PPS: The Blog apologizes for the title of this thing. It couldn't be helped.


John Nguyen said...

The 50K didn't get any waterfalls! No fair! I think we need to adjust the 50K route... Congrats on your 15K finish, in the heat! I took a few pictures for my race report too, but a waterfall would have been nice!

notthatlucas said...

John - you should have had a brief glimpse of Berry Creek Falls, but further away than the picture I have in here. But it was so down this year, I suspect it would have been easy to miss. (To get all the waterfall views I got on the 15K would have meant adding some serious climbing to the 50K. It may be worth it though.)

mary ann said...

I'm glad you mentioned that title, or I would have. These look like some rough trails, not for beginners!

Beth said...

Beautiful!! Nice that you were in the woods so much. Looks like another run to add to our 'must do' list.