Even though it felt like forever into the future when I made plans to come run the Rut, the day has come and I am finally in Montana. Before I get into the details around the first day, I really have to thank Colleen again, since she is incredibly supportive in all my racing and was willing to wake up at 4:45 in the morning to drive me to the airport! After we said our goodbyes, I had two uneventful flights: first to Minneapolis and then to Bozeman. For the next five nights, I’ll be staying in Bozeman. It seemed like a place with plenty to do and didn’t cost a fortune. After getting into town, I checked in at my airbnb and met my lovely hosts. The stop was mostly to change so I could head out for the day’s run.
I spent the beginning of the week researching trail runs local to Bozeman so I wouldn’t have to trek incredibly far after a full day of traveling. I decided that Hyalite Lake would be an awesome run. The trail is a 5.5 miles with about 2000 feet of vertical that ends a pristine lake nestled between mountains. If I was having a great day, I would continue to ascend another 2 miles and 1700 feet to Hyalite peak, but given the 50K coming up on Sunday, I knew it was not likely an option.
The Hyalite lake trail turned out to be a perfect choice. The trail follows a creek to the lake, and it seems like every quarter mile there is a waterfall. The trail started out with a gentle incline and some clearings that allowed for amazing views to the mountains above the canyon. The climbing continued and the waterfalls became more and more impressive. My two favorites were one called “Shower Falls” that was around 15 feet high and seemed aptly named as the perfect place to cool off. The second one I cannot recall the name of, but was more of a chute with several cascades that seemed to go on forever. It was really an incredible sight and helped distract from the burn in my legs from the elevation gain.
As I passed the final set of falls, the trail turned to a set of switchbacks that lead to the lake from which the trail gets its name. The lake was absolutely picturesque, and someone had set up camp and tied their horses to a nearby tree, adding to the majesty of the location.
From there, it was decision time. Was I going to add another 2 miles to the run? As soon as I saw the trail ahead, I knew I had to at least march on a little further. I continued for about another mile before turning around to start descending.
While the run down was fairly uneventful (and much faster) I still managed to take a nasty spill and bruise up my hip. Hopefully it is not a factor over the next few days. I made it back to the car and proceeded to head back to Bozeman to pick up some final gear and food for the weekend. All in all, I was extremely happy with the run today and wish that these kind of trails were in my back yard! Final stats were 13.8 miles with 2632 feet of climbing. Tomorrow I will be heading to Yellowstone to take in some sights and a run. Not exactly sure what I will be running, but I will be sure to post about it!