24 December 2012

Turtlehead Peak

Right then.

Yesterday was kind of a disaster except for the amazing scenery (which I am not discounting) so today I opted for a shorter route. Was it going to easier? I was banking on it but of course I didn't select some easy, flat trail, I wanted to get my money's worth! Instead I chose the most difficult hike in the Red Rock Canyon; Turtlehead Peak. And since it was only five miles I added on a couple extra.

I know what you're thinking, pure genius.

People (read: me) are idiots. At least I was smiling when I finished.


But in the end I had fun! So there. Did I go fast? Nope. Did I die a slow death at the end just like yesterday? Yep. The consolations were that this death didn't last as long, the scenery was again spectacular and I was the first one to the top as evidenced by my signature on a brand new page of the summit book. That and I didn't fall thank goodness. I'm starting a streak of fall-free runs to tell you the truth, kinda psyched about that.

I started out running up the Calico trails. At first I had parked at Calico 1 but then changed my mind (for the better it turned out) and drove just a little further up the scenic drive and parked at Calico 2. There was also a toilet up here. Bonus.

The 1.1 mile run up to the Turtlehead Peak trailhead was s l o w. Whatever, hopefully I would come good when the climb proper began.

The trail to Turtlehead Peak starts up a river wash. Perhaps .5 miles into it you climb out of the wash and start ascending toward the ridge that this giant turtle-shaped(?) rock sits on top of. As I was climbing I suddenly realized I was walking. When the trail leveled some I tried to jog but then it tipped up again and boom, I had to slow right down once more. Sigh.

As my eyes scanned ahead it became obvious that things were only going to get steeper and sure enough, after a couple more jogging sections I was reduced to walking which I did all of the rest of the way to the top. Today I took it better and just enjoyed my fast hike. Near the top of the ridge I was using both hands on occasion while scrambling up and it made me laugh that I had thought I could run up this.

ASIDE - the rock up here is sharp as a f'ing razor! And it it's all jagged and broken off so you can hardly put your hand anywhere without worrying that it might get sliced wide open. Throw in this strange crystalized coating on the rocks (also jagged and freaking sharp) and I started to worry just a little about the descent.

The trail goes up to the ridge, winds around behind the summit and when you finally reach the top it's amazing. I could see downtown Las Vegas, mountains in every direction and the wind was not blowing like everyone had told me it would be. Nice.

The summit book was in a small ammo box and after signing it I just stood there doing slow 360s to enjoy the view for a few minutes.

I felt MUCH better on the way down. Probably because 1) I had warmed up and 2) it's gravity assist going this way. I started out super cautious but after a bit I was hopping from sharp rock to sharp rock and even running in the short sections where I could feeling pretty confident. As I passed party after party that were heading up the trail I kept picking up speed and once the trail was all dirt I had a blast descending some of the twisty turns back to the trailhead at speed.

And then at the trailhead I was done. DONE. But I still had about one mile to run. :( And this mile included a couple of inclines. I made it back to the car but it wasn't pretty. Sheesh. Funny (read: not funny at all when it's happening to YOU) how you can go from ripping down a mountain to crawling up a tiny hill. It's like someone threw a switch and turned my legs off.

In spite of how not fast I felt it's impossible not to notice how wicked beautiful it is out here. [Did I mention that I'm bringing 'wicked' back? Yeah baby. Obviously high school were my formative years in terms of grammar and vocabulary.] I would come back here in a heartbeat.

Oh yeah, once again I wished I had brought my camera along but in retrospect there is no way I would have made it up the trail with both hands full of stuff.

In spite of it being somewhat cold at the start, the sun really warms you up. That and the climbing. I took off my long sleeve shirt half way up the climb and never put it back on. Heck, I could have gone shirtless on the descent but didn't feel like being 'that guy' today.

Sleep 7
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 6:30 AM - 2 bananas, 2 little oranges, nuts
Workout Food bottle w/1 scoop of some Gatorade powder that my brother-in-law had in his cabinet, 1 gel
Injuries I am still feeling way tight which is certainly making it hard to recover. I should stretch.
Time of Day 8:30 AM
Workout Type endurance
Weather low 40s to low 50s, sun, calm
Course The climb to the peak just keeps getting steeper all the way up.
Equipment Brooks Cascadia 7, hand-held bottle
Clothing Teko organic SIN3RGI Light Minicrew, Brooks Infinity Short III, Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight Stretch T-Shirt, Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight Crew

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