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Bull Run Lake Hike: Lived up to its name

Updated: Mar 23

This 8.5-mile hike was something else. From thunder and rain to "wild" cows (errr... bulls?) with clanking cowbells and a tailgate party, this was one to remember.

I'm not even sure how we happened upon this one. I think my husband came across it when researching new-to-us hikes in the area. And he knows that I gotta be hiking to something. I am not about just walking around in the woods and up and over mountains for no reason. There's got to be a payoff, otherwise I can't stay motivated and focused during the hike. Trails better lead to a lake, a waterfall, a peak, a creek, a gorgeous overlook, a field of wildflowers... something. So, off we went to find ourselves another lake.

Probably less than 2 miles into the hike, I kept hearing what sounded like a "clanking" in the not-so-far-off distance. The closer we got to it, the harder we listened to try and figure it out.

Cows! It's cowbells clanking around the necks of cows! In the woods! Just off the trail! This Dairy-State-Wisconsin girl couldn't believe she was coming across cows on a hike in the mountains. Naturally, I had to try and find them and get a closer look. (Spoiler Alert: You can hear the cowbells in the video!)

Hi, cow! Found you!

In hindsight, I guess this shouldn't have been unexpected, but apparently, the cows were DEATHLY afraid of me. So afraid of me, in fact, they literally tripped over each other trying to RUN away from me when I'm approaching from 100+ yards away. I've been around enough cows in my life and I've NEVER had that happen. It was the strangest thing and I did not expect it. Needless to say, I didn't get much for decent photos of them before they bolted. I guess the... BULLS... had to... RUN.

After that fun surprise, we continued down the trail toward our destination. We had been keeping an eye on a huge dark cloud, too, wondering if we were going to get rained on or stuck in a bad thunderstorm. In the nearly 8 years we've been hiking in the Sierra, I think we've only gotten rained on one time. Admittedly, I was a little bit nervous about the weather conditions on this hike, but my Eagle Scout husband shrugged it off and said if it gets bad, we can seek shelter until it passes. So I tried to relax and enjoy the hike, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I picked up the pace a little.

At an intersection maybe 3/4 of the way to the lake, we crossed paths with another couple coming down who had just hiked their son up to the lake for a camping trip. The guy warned us about the weather and asked if we had packed rain gear, etc. So that didn't do much for my nervousness.

We eventually arrived at Bull Run Lake. The skies were beautiful and blue with a few white clouds. Everything was gorgeous. We found the perfect spot to have a snack and take a few photos.

We didn't want to hang around too long, though, knowing that the thunderhead was still moving in. So we set out on the trail to make our return trip and I was hiking fast. The cloud appeared to be getting darker and we could definitely see rain in the distance.



We could feel the temperature drop. We heard thunder. We had about 1.5 miles left until we got to the car and it started raining on us! Luckily, it wasn't a hard, heavy rain, but we definitely got wet and it was a little chilly. I was hiking as fast as my short legs would allow.

When we got back to the car, we decided to have ourselves a little tailgate party. We grilled on the camp stove (we had a permit, of course!) and dined al fresco. I was trying to huddle below the top hatch to stay dry. But it was definitely a fun way to end this hike, where the bulls really do run!


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