So after spending the night in a nice hotel room in Princeton (so much better than the truck! Unfortunately.) I woke up and headed South, back towards Manning Park.
Bonnevier Trail starts at the very West end of the park (outside of the park, actually), and goes almost directly to the East, where it meets with the very popular Heather Trail. The trail is shown on the official park maps, but isn’t very consistent with the course route! I’ve overlayed my Garmin route with the parks map, to give you an idea:
Follow the race instructions, not the park map!
In the race, the runners would come off of the Trapper Lake section, cross through the Pasayten River, then after a short highway section, arrive at the logging road aid station called Bonnevier. From here, it’s a 4 km run along the logging road, then you turn onto the actual Bonnevier trail, which runs through the forest up to the Heather Trail intersection.
At the start of Bonnevier, the runners will have completed about 66 km (29 for Cathedral, and 37 for Trapper!) and be about 9 hours into their race. It’ll be evening, and dark will be coming soon. Things will be getting serious, at this point!
So I find the logging road pretty easily, and follow the directions, but can’t find the trail right away. After a bit of back and forwards searching, I find it, and off I go. From the time you hit the trail to pretty much the very top, there is essentially nowhere to go but up. One little fork in the trail, but it doesn’t look right at all. Hard to go wrong here.
Morning over Bonnevier.
Some of the route is pretty overgrown at the beginning, and I was having to fight my way through spider webs like crazy, which was pissing me off until I remembered the “blessing stick”. I ran most of the way waving my handy blessing stick, clearing the path. Worked like a charm. I hoped the bastards wouldn’t have time to rebuild before I came back through later!
You go up and over a cool little shale mountain / hill, then back down into the forest, then climb back up some switch backs until you emerge once again into the meadows. Here you do quite a bit of distance running through this semi-exposed meadows / mountain tops, until you reach the junction of Bonnevier and Heather trails.
The lovely little shale hill.
The nice thing about this section is just how fast it seems. It took me about 3:20 to get to the top, (versus Hassan’s 2:57 and Nicola’s 3:27) and it felt really good. The distance was just over 20 km (race guide says 19, but I did screw around a bit when I was lost). Very enjoyable.
It’s hard to not stop constantly and enjoy the views!
The top is gorgeous, and the whole thing is very nice single track, pretty much the entire way (minus that gross logging road section at the beginning, which is going to be miserable on race day.)
Oh my perfect trails.
Hopefully during the race it won’t be too dark for this section, through the woods. I think I’ll be picking up my headlamp at Bonnevier (assuming all goes well) but hopefully I won’t have to turn it on. Fingers crossed for a nice moonlit night!
The way down was scorching, scorching hot. For some reason, on this particular run, I was drinking a ton of water, and ran out really early. I ended up having to drink from some moderately not so fantastic forest streams, dipping my hat, etc. Was really working. I guess the fact that this was my third 5+ hour day in a row had something to do with me being tired.
Anyway, as I’m battling to finish this run, I am thinking to myself “Wouldn’t it be funny to run into a bear right now, in the last few km’s of my very last run?” and I shit you not like 2 minutes later I see the fuzzy butt of a black bear tearing off down the trail ahead of me. I thought that was pretty funny, after some of the insane middle-of-nowhere terrain I’d been through over the weekend.
So with that little mini adrenaline boost I finished off the trail section and popped back out onto the road. And holy God was it hot. Cripes. That road section just felt endless. So endless. I walked. I ate the last of my gummies. I was long since out of water. God it was never ending. I took a photo.
My God will you ever end?
Anyway, got back in the truck, and was just a wreck. This was the longest, hottest run of the weekend (42 km, 6.5 hours) and I was feeling it. I absolutely cannot recall what happened after that, but I think it involved me driving back to Abbotsford, eating Wendy’s at the Automall, and then picking up my dogs. Oh yes, and then getting stuck in Tunnel Traffic for like 2 hours. Fantastic.
*This* is what I need for camping in.
But all said and done, my three days of course recon were an absolute stunning success. I saw 3 of the 4 big climbs, got a real feel for the course, figured out the layout of the entire race, and got a buttload of solid miles in. Hard to top that.
The next weekend I would be back out for trail maintenance, and some course recon on two more sections, Cayuse Flats to Sumallo Grove, and the descent from Heather Trail to Cayuse Flats! Exciting times…
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