In the past 4 days I ran almost 60 miles of this potential route. Even before this week I had run all of the route that I have in mind except for the connection between Heintzleman Ridge and Blackerby Ridge. The difficult thing about this connection is that there is a massive glacier that sits between the two (seen center right in the picture below).
There are 3 basic options for getting between the two ridges: drop down and cross Lemon Creek in front of the glacier; drop down to the face of the glacier but stay on the left side of it all the way around toward Blackerby Ridge; or stay up on the ridge past Nugget Mountain and Split Thumb, keeping on ridges all the way back around the glacier and eventually over to Observation Peak (the ridgeline can be seen in the distance on the above photo)
The first option is certainly the least desirable. You need to drop way down to do this and then cross a dangerous river and then climb back up all the elevation you lost with some bushwhacking as well. More and more lately I have been thinking that the third option of staying up on the ridge all the way around would be the best choice. Thus on Friday my friend Bryan and I set out with the intention of scouting this third option. A few hours into our "run" though we decided to drop down to the edge of the glacier and attempt the middle option instead. You still need to drop a long ways to do this but from up on the ridge it looked like this would include almost no bushwhacking and that the climb back up along the edge of the glacier would be so gradual that the elevation lost really wouldn't be a big deal. When it was all said and done this proved to be true and I was really pleased with this route. It's not fast. Took us about 8.5 hours to do 20-25 miles, but it's a pretty straight forward connection and the scenery is amazing. There was one hidden lake (above photo) that we had to cross right above the outlet that poured into a raging deathtrap of a river, but the crossing about 20 feet above the beginning of the deathtrap was only up to the bottom of our shorts and really quite mellow (photo below is of Bryan crossing just above the "deathtrap"). After that we simply climbed up onto the edge of the glacier (third photo below) and then climbed gradual for about 2 hours of very simple/smooth travel and we had connected into Blackerby Ridge on top of Observation Peak.
In all this turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and beautiful runs I have ever been on. I wish the lighting had been a little better so these photos weren't quite so washed out.
I know the specific locations of this route mean nothing to most of you, but the point is that this run put me one huge step closer to piecing together one of the most rugged, challenging, and scenic 100 mile race routes in the world. I hold no illusions that this will ever be any kind of organized/legitimate event, but maybe an annual "pilgrimage" for me and one or two others dumb enough to "run" this route. That'd be sweet.