Saturday, August 2, 2008

BPR Summer Trail Series Race #1

OR, Renee's Big Adventure in the Woods.
Dang it was a hard trail! It was only 6 miles, but was pretty rocky in spots, was fairly overgrown for stretches (yes, that is part of the trail in the picture on the left!), and the uphill was brutal on part of it! My hiking legs are definitely not in shape. Views were amazing, albeit sometimes through a forest of burned trees from the fire in 2003.
I drove up to the trailhead at the summit of Mt. Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains on Friday night. I was celebrating 22 years of moving to Tucson from Louisiana. I decided to drive up on Friday night instead of on Saturday morning for several reasons: I live about 1.5 hours or more from the top of Mt. Lemmon, so I would have to get up way too early, the race started bright and early at 6am, and I was looking for an adventure! It was the first night I have spent alone in the outdoors. I was a little nervous, but mostly just excited to be out from behind my desk and seeing some beautiful country.
I got a late start (I have to bring everything!) and drove up most of the mountain highway in the dark. I did see an amazing sunset before it got dark.
A big thunderstorm rolled through and I had to pull over because it was raining so hard. By the time I got to the top (around 8:15 - 8:30pm) at the trailhead (past the ski lodge) it had stopped raining. I saw one deer along the way. I pretty much just brushed my teeth and settled down to sleep in the back of my 4-Runner. I already had a 'bed' set up with a thermarest mattress, blanket and pillow. I woke up quite a bit in the middle of the night - I could feel that the altitude was already getting to me. I needed more oxygen! It was over 9,000 feet elevation where I spent the night.
I woke to my alarm at 5am. What a beautiful sunrise! Runners started filing in at 5:10am! I hardly had time to get myself together in privacy. Most people were there by 5:30am. It was fairly cool at the start, around 60 degrees, which was a nice break from the Tucson heat. Laszlo, one of the RD's, gave us last minute instructions and went over the trail route. He told us that he and Lauren, the other race director, were getting married next month; congratulations! After we all got our race bibs on, we were on the trail at 6am.
Some people were doing a shorter route (4 miles) and there were others that didn't make it to the end of the two out and back trails (this is a pretty laid back race). I did all 6 miles and had to hike a significant portion of them. We did the Meadow trail, Lemmon Rock lookout trail, and the Samienago trail (which is part of the Arizona trail). Some parts of the Samienago trail were very overgrown, but the trail had lots of wildflowers and was very beautiful! I was really huffing and puffing from the altitude and of course, the uphills. This picture vaguely reminds me of Zane Grey with the uphill/rock combo...About 1.5 miles before the end of the course, my friend Steve came running back on the trail (he had already finished) and ran the last part with me! Too cool! We went to the fire lookout point (which is the house behind me in the picture below) and got some good pictures. You could see for miles. Steve enjoying the view at the lookout:
Here is the left side of the lookout house:

Here is Steve in front of the fire lookout entrance:

I was pretty tired by the time we were on the last stretch. It was only supposed to be 6 miles altogether, but it took me 1 hour and 24 minutes! I did run quite a bit, but the walking uphill was slow, slow, slow. I also stopped a lot to take pictures, and Steve and I spent a few minutes at the lookout point, too. I always believe in taking in the view; you never know when you'll see something like that again, and I would hate to just race by something that deserves a few minutes. I had to go to the bathroom pretty bad, but decided to hold out for the trailhead bathroom. Thanks Steve for running/hiking me in!

Afterwards, I stood around and chatted with the other runners and met some new people. I met David and his significant other Cat - David finished the Zane Grey 50 miler and has done other ultras, so we talked quite a bit about running crazy distances in general, which was fun! I'm sure I'll be seeing him again.

On the way down the mountain, I made a stop in Summerhaven, a little town right below the top, and went to the end of the road. I decided to hike the Marshall Gulch trail to the Aspen trail, but lost it about a mile or so in. Because of the fire in this area in 2003, there was lots of downed wood. Although a lot of the pine trees were burned and dead, the forest floor was green and lush and filled with wildflowers with a running creek nearby! I did a little loop and then ended up on the Marshall Gulch trail again (where was the Aspen trail?), so I headed on back. I ran into my friend Steve, who was doing the same thing! We talked for about 15 minutes, and then ran back to the trailhead together. What a great time. It is always a pleasure hanging out with Steve; we even got to talk accounting shop!

Well, that's it for the racing until next Saturday - for the 2nd race in the Summer Trail Series, we'll be out at the Tortolita mountains. Could be a little warm, but hey, we live in Tucson, right? Those mountains are pretty; come on out and see what we are up to - register here.

After my little country-girl adventure in the woods, I followed it up with a shower at home and a city-girl facial at the local salon, my first one ever. It lasted an hour and a half and was wonderful!


HappyTrails said...

So glad you had a wonderful adventure! The pictures are beautiful! And then to top it off with a "spa treatment" - sounds great - I need to try it sometime!

Sarah said...

Beautiful pictures! Looks tough but well worth it for the views. : )

angie's pink fuzzy said...