Happy National Running Day!
Today I went on a run I'd been planning for a while, but never had the time to do. See, basically, I planned on having someone drop me off in the desert and then I would run home. My wife agreed to drop me off in the desert, though with some apprehension.
The run itself wasn't terribly long, but anybody that's done any bush-whacking through high desert knows that distance isn't half of the story!
I started off and climbed a series of 5 hills over a span of one mile that total for approximately 900 feet of climbing. The climbing isn't terribly hard, but the down hills are flat (pun intended) dangerous! See, the ground is hard packed underneath a bed of either pebbles or gravel. So, no matter how great your shoes are, they're going to slide down the hill. I've taken my Jeep on these roads and there's no stopping on the way down in a vehicle either!
Anyhow, I'm calling this the miracle run. First, it's a miracle that it was nice and cloudy this morning. It's also a miracle I can run it! It's a miracle I didn't get bitten by a snake, twice! Last, it's a miracle I didn't completely bite it on the way down one of those hills. I came back with most of my skin.
After the hills, which is an easy trail to follow as it's a gas line road, I took a right hand turn on a smuggling trail. There's a lot of human and narcotic smuggling in the area. These trails usually skirt just below the edges of the ridge lines and follow what were once cattle or game trails. There are a lot of places where one must push through walls of mesquite and other things with thorns like this:
After clearing all of those things, which took about a mile of running I was in the flats below which are open and grassy, but rocky. I was tired and not paying attention when I almost stepped on this:
Turns out it was just a skin, but at the time I had no idea what it was. About two miles later the same thing happened, except that time it was a living snake. Luckily, it was non-venomous, and didn't notice me at all, I don't believe.
Now, along the way I saw some extraordinary beauty. I had to stop and take a few pictures. This is a cholla cactus (sometimes called a jumping cactus) that's blooming.
This was about 2 1/2 miles into the run. It's followed by about 1 and a half miles of running through sand and then 2 more miles on pavement. For an idea of the topography, here's a link, though you need google earth for it to work.
All told, it took me 70 minutes, though the hills themselves took me 32 minutes. Nothing like running 16 minute miles and feeling dead!