About a week and a half ago, Sascha and I decided to head out to the Ochoco Mountains for a nice, long day in the mountains. The Ochocos are located about 30 minutes east of Prineville, kinda in the middle of nowhere. I love going there for a few reasons, one being that I hardly ever see another person. The Lookout / Round Mountain loop is an awesome 27 miler with about 6,500' of ascent and descent. It's a great trainer for most hard 100s.
The Ochocos got a lot of snow this winter, so I called ahead to check the trail conditions. Knowing that the FS personnel usually give the worst case scenarios, I was excited when the ranger station lady told me I could probably at least make it up Lookout. So Sascha and I loaded up with lots of food and nuun and started running up the 7 miles to the top of Lookout Mtn.
It was probably 4 miles before we hit snow, patchy at first, then it really started coming at us. I had been up this enough times to know the general direction, so wasn't too concerned when I started losing the trail. Only once did I really lose the trail, but somehow managed to stumble on it again. We eventually summited the large, and very snowy, plateau. After walking around a while, we found the summit sign. I briefly contemplated just doing an out-and-back, but thought that wouldn't be much fun, so we continued the loop on the north side, heading down, over, and occasionally post-holing through, lots and lots of snow (Sascha has a distinct advantage in these conditions). Although never finding an actual trail, we did somehow manage to pop-out a few miles later at a trailhead. Hm, nice.
Next up, Round Mtn. The lower part of this climb was mostly south facing, so there was nice, dry trail to run on. Closer to the top, however, the trail wound its way over to the east side and lots of snow. Crossing a small creek, I decided to fill my bottle. It tasted sooooo nice and refreshing, but my tummy immediately started rebelling. Hm, maybe not so smart. We lost the trail again, so just decided to beeline to the summit. Great views and great weather were at the top, so we took a little break. I broke out the pepperoni sticks and decided Sascha deserved a few hunks, too. She was stoked!
Now we had a decision to make: continue the loop another 5 miles down the very snowy north side of Table Mtn. until we hit the road for the last 7; or go back down the 5 miles we had just come up, and the last 4 also on a road. Not wanting to get too lost, we went back down the way we had just come up. It was a bit tricky, though, starting down on the east side and losing the trail often. Going down one snowy draw in particular, not really knowing if I was going the right way, I had a slight panic-attack. So we stopped, hiked back up about 5 minutes, and Sascha came to the rescue and found the right path going the other way. That Sascha, she's smart sometimes.
We got back to the road and I was kinda looking forward to just running 4 easy miles down now, without having to navigate. So we ran, and ran, and ran, and kept running. Hm, maybe 5? Finally 7 miles later we safely made it back to the Honda. Sascha was hot and thirsty. I was just tired and hungry.
It was a great day. 27 miles, close to 7,000' vertical, 6 1/2 hours, lots and lots of snow. The mileage was actually really big for Sascha. She had 2 acl surgeries in 2004 and hasn't gone more than about 20 since then. So that, coupled with her being 10, made this a great day for her. But I don't think she cared about the surgeries or being 10. She was tired and happy and just glad to be done. And I was happy to have spent an incredible day getting lost in the mountains with Sascha.