Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Day run through Thetis Lake Regional Park

For two years in a row I have ran in Thetis Lake Provincial park on New Years. It is a little gem of a park only about 10 minutes from downtown Victoria. This park can be crowded and is a favorite of dog walkers. The secret to avoiding the masses is to run the narrow and muddy trails on the perimeter of the park rather than sticking to the main crushed gravel trail that circumnavigates the lake shore. This is a great solution if you don't mind getting some swamp feet now and then. The weather was chilly 5 Celsius or high 30's Fahrenheit with a hazy sky but also some sun.

I first summited a small hill (Seymour) just to get the blood pumping and get my core temp up. The hill sits on the southeast side of the lake and gives impressive glimpses of Thetis to the west. Running up the south slope of Seymour is one of my favorite trails in the park because it is a vastly different ecosystem with more grass and spaced out garry oaks and fir trees; it reminds me of running in Utah's Uinta mountains or other alpine forests in the Rockies. The summit consists of a faint trail which rolls over the mossy rocks and is dotted by arbutus and douglas fir.

The descent from Seymour is just as spectacular and takes you right down to the lake shore via a swerving length of single-track that cuts through broad-leaved shrubs and Oregon grape. I ran the main trail for a short distance just to get me to the Seaborn trail turnoff which connects to the McKenzie creek trail. Once you veer off the main trail you are back to solitude and complete isolation. Only a few of the hardiest hikers or trail runners venture down these trails because they meander along side the creek in a fairly boggy area. Many portions of the trail consist of roots, mud, and standing water. The ecosystem is one of moss-covered western red cedars, rocks caked with succulent ferns, mossy logs and an overall swampy biota. A little slice of pacific northwest trailrunners paradise.

With limited fitness at the moment I was forced to take things fairly easy so I didn't run to the summit of Stewart mountain but turned back after a few miles on the McKenzie creek trail. I retraced my steps and did the run in reverse and had a thrilling return trip filled with lots of playful running along the creeks and rolling hills in an exhilarating workout. Overall I give this run 3.5 out of 5 wet Brooks Cascadias; high marks indeed for the first run of 2013!


Tim said...

Sounds like a great running trail. The pictures are absolutely amazing! I wish I could do more trail running this time of year. Alas, all in due time. Great warmup run if you catch my drift.

Steve said...

It was a great warm up now time to get serious!