God do I love new trails…! The Pacific Crest Trail certainly falls into that category for me since prior to today I have never set foot on any part of it. I know... and I call myself a NW native. :(
I hooked up with Bill Huggins (much faster than me) and Jon Robinson (also much faster than me) to explore some new terrain. Here are some highlights.
- It was epically beautiful. There was hardly a cloud in the sky so you could see for miles and we were right in the middle of the mountains for crying out loud. So freaking amazing.
- Lucky for me both Bill and Jon were not trying to go hard so we stuck together all the way. On the way back I was actually pulling ahead a tiny bit on the climbs. Who woulda thunk? Of course it might have been the case that Jon was just coming off of a 100 mile race (his second this summer) and it might not.
- I fell more often (THREE TIMES) and harder than I ever have on a trail run. It would have been laughable if it had not hurt so much. Actually, I did laugh. What else could I do? When I got home there were no less than 12 bandages involved.
We started early because 1) it was going to be a hot day and 2) we wanted to go relatively long. I felt I could muster 20 or so miles (3.5 hours?) so when Bill announced we would go about five hours I'll admit to being just a tad apprehensive. But hey, you don't often get the chance to have people show you around new trails so I was all in.
As we sorted out our gear in the parking lot Bill was pulling on a vest, arm warmers and a backpack. I had two hand-held bottles and opted to leave my shirt in the car. Contrast! In the interest of full disclosure, I could not have travelled this light if Bill had left his pump behind, it was crucial as we ran out of water.
The views were incredible! With sections of trail called 'catwalk' you can imagine how far we could see. All the alpine lakes were still surrounded by snow and there were even a few patches of white on the trail but they were few and far between. In general the going was perfect. Dry, warm, super traction, perfect.
We stopped at least twice to enjoy the views and when we ran it was slow enough to chat the entire time. We ran across alpine meadows full of flowers, through scree rock slides, up and down switchbacks, over saddles, you name it. Every mile we covered blew my mind more than the previous one.
We picked one particularly beautiful vista/high point to pause, eat, drink and turn around. I don't normally like out-and-back routes but this was an exception as the trail was just as incredible on the way back. Nice. In retrospect I did not drink enough but at the time I didn't figure it out until the cramps started. Rats. I'm lucky they were manageable all the way to the car. On the way back we stopped at a lake to pump water and fill our bottles.
With maybe six miles to go it's essentially all downhill and as we came up to a group of hikers heading up the trail I suddenly stubbed my toe on something and dove off the trail. I scraped my leg good, my elbow as well and the shock of the impact caused my hamstring to seize up. I must have looked like hell. I was covered in sweat and dust and now blood as well. We let the hikers go past and Bill and Jon waited until I collected myself and was able to run again.
The next bit of excitement was provided by an angry, old man. As we ran down the trail hikers were starting to stream up. We would usually slow down and always move way to the right and say things like "thanks" and "excuse me", you get the idea. As we approached this man Jon was in front, Bill was next and I was in the back. Jon scooted around but when Bill tried to jog past this guy literally put out his shoulder and rammed Bill! As Bill came to a stop and turned around in amazement this guy says something like, "Uphill has the right of way fucker!"
We were all blown away.
Bill - usually kind of hot - was very restrained on this day and asked what was up. To this the man replied by calling us "dicks".
By this time I had edged past Mr. Chip On My Shoulder and was being thoroughly entertained. To his credit Bill let it drop as this guy just wanted a confrontation. As we started back down the trail we all marveled at what some 60+ year old guys need to do in order to enjoy their hike.
And then I fell. Again. Once again it was a hard fall forward and down the trail. When you fall going uphill at least you don't fall as far but falling down is a drag. Not only do you have farther to travel before you impact the ground but you're going faster too. Ouch. And again my leg cramped up.
Bill was like, "Dude... we can walk it in if you want." but I was having none of that. It did take me longer to pull my shit together but after walking some I was able to jog and then eventually we were back up to speed.
With just two miles to go we met a huge crew performing trail maintenance and it was amazing to see how much they do and how hard the work is! I have newfound appreciation for these volunteers.
And then I fell AGAIN. Oh man was this getting old... This fall was just the same as all the others, I fell straight forward. This time I also scraped my forehead a little and had it not been for my hand-held bottles I would have torn up one palm. As it was I still scrapped one hand a little.
Bill couldn't help laughing - in sympathy of course - and it probably helped. It was either that or cry. Jon just shook his head. By the time I finally got back up to speed from this tumble we were back at the car. Whew. On the way home we stopped at the Issaquah PCC for food and I must have looked like a nightmare in the store; shock and awe and all that. Taking a shower when I got home sucked, it brought back all my bad crashes while racing bicycles.
Still, this trail is phenomenal. I want to go back. Just as soon as I learn how to pick my feet up when I run.
|Breakfast||5:30 AM - 2 bananas, apple sauce, 1 scoop protein powder, walnuts, water|
|Workout Food||2 large bottles each w/3 scoops Perpetuem and 2 Endurolytes, 5 gels, half a bottle of water|
|Time of Day||7:00 AM|
|Weather||Upper 50s at the start but it quickly warmed up to 80, sunny and calm and dry.|
|Equipment||Hoka Combo XT, 2 hand-held bottles|
|Clothing||Brooks Infinity Short III|