Sunday, May 23, 2010

Santa Catalina Ascent Redux

Well, since Mark didn't make it to the top on the first Santa Catalina Ascent 3 weeks ago, and I didn't do the 'official' route (I skipped Butterfly and Aspen Draw trails due to route finding and snow), I decided we needed to do it again!!! Mark was working on doing the 4 summits around Tucson - Wrightson, Mica, Wasson, Lemmon - all in about a month or two span of time.

Today, the day started with smiles and ended with smiles. Dallas and I as dawn is breaking at 5am:

Here I am with Mark on the tram road:
At first, I blamed Dallas for starting this whole crazy idea, but then I remembered it was me! This is what I said in an email to Dallas:

'He (Mark) wants to try it again - got a free weekend that you'd like to try it again?'

Of course, being the crazy trail runner he is, he said yes.
And it was on.

Dallas coordinated the effort (Ross called him the 'run instigator') and by the time 3 weeks had passed, there were 7 of us 'Redemptionists' (another 'Ross word') that started. All 7 of us finished!!! Woohoo! It was a successful day.

Official route: Sabino Canyon tram road ~ Sabino Canyon trail ~ East Fork ~ Palisades ~ Bigelow ~ Butterfly ~ Sunset ~ Marshall Gulch ~ Aspen ~ Aspen Draw. Ends at the ski lift parking lot.

Distance: 26.5 miles
Cumulative elevation gain: my Garmin gives some ridiculous readings - it is about 10,000 feet of climbing. Jeesh!
Time: 8:25
Last year's time: 8:51
I was happy with the improvement!!! And, this year, there was some additional tree hopping that we didn't have to do last year.

We were going to stay together as a group, but Raoul and Mike (his first TTR run!) eventually went on ahead.

The fun started early - the 'helmet' story came up again - hysterical!!!!
Here we are waiting for Tonja and Stella at the connector trail. Mike has a 'no face' Facebook policy, so I figured I wouldn't show his face! He is in the red:

After the SC tram road, I led us for a while, but elected to drop to the back of the train - too many fast ones in the group!
Tonja and Stella eventually pulled away, and Dallas, Mark and I ran together for most of it. 
Dallas pointing to the old telephone wire on Palisades:
I'm short and avoided it, but everyone else usually 'clocks' themselves on it!!

Dallas and I on Palisades trail having a grand time:
Ross was our roving aid station, but we coordinated the food with him ahead of time. He was at Palisades TH (about 14.5 miles in) and Butterfly TH (about 20.5 miles in). We couldn't have done it without him. Thank you Ross!!! Here is the fearless leader himself on the right with Mark:

At the first aid station near Palisades (Ross said 'Act like you like each other', so we did!):

Some scenes from Butterfly trail:

I conquered Butterfly (or otherwise known as 'The 'Redemption' for me!):
We took a little break at the Butterfly aid station and munched down the delicious turkey wraps that Dallas made! Yum!!!
We didn't have to contend with the downed trees like last time either - trail crews had cleared Marshall Gulch and Aspen trails. It was wonderful. There were still a few on Sunset trail. Mark ended up on his rear end pulling this fancy acrobatic maneuver:

I, on the other hand, was much more graceful... :)
The weather was better than last time - not as cold.

However, by the time we reached Aspen trail (towards the end of the run), the wind was in a full roar - 50-60 mph. Not gusts, just constant wind. I almost fell over a few times.  Last time, the wind was pretty bad from early on in the run and was cold. Mark commented that it sounded like helicopters above us. It was loud! However, I've never had so much fun on Aspen! I love this picture of Dallas laughing.
We were cracking up laughing at the funniest things - Mark was really cutting up at this point (although he did have one of those Aspen trail 'moments' - no, he's not laughing here, he's doubled over from the steepness of Aspen!)

Mark and I climbing on Aspen:
Aspen Draw had some snow, but not like last time. I was able to successfully navigate this trail and complete the official route! Victory!
Here I am at the finish:

On Radio Ridge, before dropping down Aspen Draw, I parted with Dallas and Mark. Dallas went with Mark up to the top of Mt. Lemmon (Steward Observatory) so Mark could officially claim his summit. This added on about a mile onto their run.

They came in beaming.
Mark said it was one of the happiest days of his life - he had fulfilled a long time dream of his. We were so happy to be a part of it! It was a magical day on the mountain.

"Happiness only real when shared."
~Christopher McCandless

1 comment:

HappyTrails said...

I am loving all of the wonderful pictures! It looks so beautiful in that area. I am also loving the fact that you look very happy and are having fun! Have a great week!