Friday: Becoming an REI Member
$20 in and 20% off. Now I’m entitled to all sorts of good stuff. Hooray!
Saturday: The Pikes Peak Hike, 14,110 ft
Kira and I woke up at 3:30 AM and pushed ourselves over to the lodge where the rest of our nine had gathered, shoved ourselves into the minivan, and zoned out until we arrived at The Craggs trail head at the base of Pikes Peak on the West side. Dark and cool we lifted one foot in front of the other up the trail in soft whispers and the burgeoning dawn. Soon the night lifted, the morning broke, and we anticipated the arrival of solar warmth as we watched the shadows recede across the panoramic of the Rocky Mountains toward our trail. Patches of snow turned icy dotted our route and every pause between steps debuted a glorious one hundred and eighty snowcapped shark-tooth horizon. It was breathtaking.
Our companions were of various ages. Twenty-two was the low bar while the oldest hailed from the low altitude of Michigan and celebrated sixty-five years of vigor. As our pace was slow and steady and breaks were frequent, several of us had much too much energy in our legs. However, we maintained our patience. And as the day wore on and the peak grew closer, our compatriot grew weaker and weaker to the point of anxiety. As we stepped across fields of ice and tip-toed through small boulder-scapes, we held our breath as steps became harder to take and balance more difficult to maintain. Water was shared mercifully and snacks were eaten vigorously. However, the time finally came when, only one more bound from the top, no more than two thousand feet above, that the group split into two, those who would eat lunch in the wind and those who would begin to descend. Kira and I, being representative of youth and strength, continued on with several others and finding nothing but a heap of boulders leading to the top, scampered quickly from icy rock to snowy hole to glorious cairn pointing the way in the last one hundred meters.
To the delight of all but us hikers, the small two lane road ends here at the peak and atop it rests a restaurant and souvenir stand, a US Army building, a parking lot, view point, and the end of the line for the Cog Mountain Railway. So as we stood and enjoyed our lack of three hundred and sixty degrees, a group of men dug their raised Ford F-350 out of some ice they’d tried to run through, and an old man threw a snow ball at his grand child, then laughed. An overweight family fell out of their oversized SUV, and a middle aged hiking couple remotely locked their Subaru. Several other hikers had ascended with us and had retreated from the wind into the cafeteria, so we followed suit in order to enjoy the relief of sitting in a restroom for a few moments.
After some pictures with the freshly painted “Pikes Peak, 14,110 ft” sign and enjoying a some slices of guda we’d carried up for the occasion, we turned our noses and toses down the hill and began our decent. It was now close to 3 PM. We had left the parking lot at 6:30 AM. It had taken us eight and a half hours to climb the mountain, only to find it heavily populated and significantly lacking any sort of complete view. There was some serious disappointment as we reengaged the icy rock for our departure. But as we reemerged on the West side of the mountain, and the panoramic of the Rockies presented it’s self once again, one couldn’t help but smile and keep on trucking.
By 6:30 PM we had reached the cars at the parking lot of The Craggs campground and we easily slipped back into our seats which we had occupied twelve long hours before, celebrated our accomplishment and then went silent. It was cold and dark again. What an ordeal.
Sunday: Pikes Peak Road Runners Trail Race, 4.8 miles (Fall Series Race #2)
Kira and I woke up late on Sunday, about 9:30 AM, to the sound of movement upstairs and my mind raced with enthusiasm for the race! I threw the covers back and then put all my strength into jumping out of bed. My back screamed and my thighs winced. My fists clenched and my body threw up the middle finger. I paused for a good several minutes, standing next to my bed, fearful of the next steps, fearful of the next event, fearful I’d done a terrible thing to my body. However, with a few stretches and some slow movements I made it to the shower where the warm water medicated my body and soon I was upstairs and energetic.
We drove out to the park where the race was being held and checked in, stretching and doing a bit of a jog I was mentally convinced I was prepared. I stepped in line behind Christopher for the start and made a deal to never leave his heels. The pack was tight and keeping up without edging someone out was difficult, but with some ziggs and zaggs and a bit of some pace adjustment I was stuck to him. After one loop about the grass the trail started, and the group thinned to a manageable density. Strong and energized as I had started, I stuck with him, however as the hills kept going up and up and as my body began to recognize the endeavors of the previous day I began to slow more and more. Christopher left my toes and moved forward. Relentless I managed to change my goal and defend against any other competitor running between us, with the distance between as no object. Through a few splashy creeks and up a set of stairs my heart was pounding and I felt the drive of collapse catching me, however every moment before I was about to give up, my pace setter slowed his speed and the hills pointed downward and the ground got softer and someone handed me some water and I relished in some sense of relief. The last portion of the trail contained a set of ropes leading up an embankment, at this sight and with the cheering of a massive crowd I found the energy to leap across the creek and find the rope and with full force and vigor pull myself to the top passing my trail mentor. With a lunge I was over a small fence and could see the finish only meters away. However as I put feet in front of feet I found my energy registering a payment due and I slowed myself to a crawl. Several others passed me, then Christopher reclaimed his position before my nose. I put some force through, promised myself some rewards, and struck out to the end to enjoy only 3 seconds behind my leader.
Exhausted and satisfied with my weekend’s exercise I devoted the remainder of the day to successful living and a restful night.
3rd of 16 in my age group, 39th of 203 men, 41st of 347 racers
Monday: Root Beer Floats, Hagandaz 5 and Mr. Thomas Kemper
Delicious and rewarding.