Saturday, May 5, 2012

No Way to Make My Monthly Goal ... and I'm Happy!

After a metric century last weekend, and another one this coming weekend, with a nice mountain climb sandwiched in between, there's no way I'm realistically going to hit my 150 miles running this month.  I'll still give it the old college try, as it were, but whatever.  The point of being healthy is the ability to enjoy things like this. 

Example #1 of enjoying good health was today's activity.

My brother-in-law, Gene, and I hiked Mt. Wrightson, a 9453 foot peak that dominates the local skyline, at least within a 60 mile radius of its granite peak.  It's rumored that back in the days of clean air and polyester (1960's), one could view the Gulf of California from its peak!  (Today we had no such luck, the air quality was quite hazy due to high winds.)

The endeavor was in great doubt as Wednesday and Thursday I was struck with a strange lethargy...I didn't feel sick, but had an unbelievably low energy level, a sick stomach (to play a role later today), and was in as foul of a mood as I've ever experienced without cause.  To make things worse, I was super sore from just 10 miles of SLOW running over three excursions.

Friday morning I thought, "You get all the rest you need when you're dead," and said I'd the mountain a shot on Saturday morning.

I left home at 5 AM, drove to the mountain.  On the way up Madera Canyon (which is a crazy-bicycle ride climbing 3,500 feet in about 12 miles) I saw a group of three wild turkeys, pictured here.

 We headed up the trail, taking the short route, 5.4 miles to the peak, climbing a bit over 4,000 feet.  It was cool, and got colder as we climbed.  As we made it to Josephine Saddle, I was reminded of the boys that died on the mountain in the late 50's during a freak November snow storm.  I attended a speaking by a woman who wrote a book to record the story.  She was the younger sister of one of the survivors, and the entire event left a huge impression upon her.  As she aged she realized that the adults involved were dying and many of the artifacts and stories were disappearing, so she collected the information and wrote the book, "Death Clouds on Mount Baldy."    Here's the memorial:
We climbed for hours in the shade of the mountain.  As we climbed, the temperature dropped steadily.  As you can see here, we weren't dressed for it!

The views were AMAZING, way better than my little pocket camera could capture.

Before even reaching the peak we were significantly higher than the next highest mountain, which is in the same range, Mt. Hopkins, sporting a huge observatory.
Once at the top, the wind was CRAZY!  The view, while obscured by dust in the air, was still great, with vistas much farther than my camera captured.  In the picture below you can see where the water flows during the summer monsoons.  When down on the valley floor, one would have no clue!
As we hit the summit a voice said, "Did you see the bear?" 

It came from an elderly man that rested unseen against the remains of a former look out tower, or some such structure. He said we walked right past it.  Ugh...we talked about how we'd both would love to see a bear!

Talking to the man, he's climbed the mountain each weekend of the month, only failing to summit one weekend due to 6 foot snow on the trail.  How cool is that?

Soon another man, a bit older, joined us, then a pair of trail runners.  It was my first experience sharing a peak with someone not in my party.  But, it was nice and they took our picture.

On the way down, we both suffered greatly.  We both rode in a race last weekend, and our thighs were greatly taxed, and thus our knees grew tired.  For me, I always run in toe-shoes and my trail running shoes beat my toes to a pulp.  They're truly sore!

On the way down, the light was better for pictures, and it finally warmed up.  By the time we finished (due to dead thighs, the downward trip took longer and was more taxing than the trip up), it was quite warm.
On the way down, Gene's knee really hurt.  It slowed him greatly.  Mine hurt too, but my stomach began to really hurt.  I mentioned the stomach problems earlier in the week...well, I can't say anything delicately beyond I was happy to have brought toilet paper.  It was tricky though because there were lots of hikers on the trails and the slopes were incredibly steep just off the trail.  I've never had a problem like that and don't wish that on anybody!

As we approached the bottom of the trail we found a very young horned lizard (we call them horny toads).

I've known Gene since I was 14, and he was about 9.  His sister, now my wife, caught a horny toad and I traded her a poem I'd written for the lizard.  I kept it in a dresser drawer for a day and brought it back to her house the following day.  Gene wanted to hold it, I didn't want him to, and held my arm up high so he couldn't reach it.  He knocked my arm and the horny toad fell to the ground and out popped a bunch of babies!

We relived that moment while studying this little fellow.

All told, it was a GREAT day.  I will definitely be returning to these trails to do some training and running once I'm fresh and rested.  For those of you that are trail runners, how does this look:

I hope those reading had a wonderful Saturday and are, like me, enjoying good health.  I leave with a picture of me on the top of the mountain, that reminds me of the cover of "Born to Run."


  1. Awesome day!

    Your line about the point of being healthy is to enjoy days like this (along with the realization that you won't make your running goal this month), brings to mind this quote: "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

    Enjoy all your outdoor endeavors this month!

  2. Saturday sounds like it was a good time for you except for the wind, dust, your knees and you are better! Blessings!