Well, I ran a trail half marathon last Saturday but didn’t quite get in the 20 miles prescribed. No worries, though. Good ‘ol Matt had already strong armed me into another mountain meet-up for Sunday! I figured I could get in back to back double digit miles on trails, and that would be some solid training. B2B Double D’s! So, where were we headed on this fine Sunday morning?
Mighty Matt was setting out to conquer a tiny bit of the AC100 course – Vincent Gap to Mt. Williamson and back. This really meant nothing to me so I had to look it up. J decided to come but we would only be doing part of the journey, meeting Matt midway at Islip (“eye” slip) Saddle.
J and I arrived at Islip Saddle at about 9:15 AM. We started to get our stuff situated, only to realize that J’s (water) bladder had leaked out most of the water, as did one of my Nuun bottles (because I hadn’t closed it properly). Bad omen. Then we got hungry and ate some of our shot blocks. Bad idea. I swear, we ate real breakfasts. Also, to further our unpreparedness, I forgot my Maui Jim sunnies and my post-run Larabars.
Meanwhile, back on the trail, Matt and Corey were hauling down the mountain. They had started at Vincent Gap (6,593 ft) and climbed Mt. Baden-Powell (9,399 ft.) and then came back down to meet us a Islip Saddle (6,600 ft.). At this point, they had gone about 11 miles.
So, this is when J and I joined in the fun. The four of us took off for a trip up to Mt. Williamson (8,214 ft.) and back to Islip Saddle – a 4 to 5 mile round trip climb of 1,600 ft. and we started off slow. Huff. Puff. J and I have not earned our mountain lungs yet.
I have a lot of work to do to get to the point where I can even walk/jog up mountains like these. J started off with tiny running steps and I was keeping pace with him by just power hiking it. Thanks to Matt for sharing this video.
We made it to the top and the view was awesome! Looking out over the clouds you could see ‘islands’ of mountain tops peaking through. Seriously, the views from these mountains could provide a lifetime of ‘wow’ images and most of those will be savored in my memory. Sorry. I can only take so many photos. Go see it for yourself.
Matt pointed out where he’d just come from and where we were now headed back to – the top of Mt. Baden-Powell. Way. Over. There. Seemed like a good idea at the time, so back down we went. Corey was going to leave once we got back to the parking lot at Islip Saddle.
Islip Saddle is a low point between peaks where the clouds/fog/mist squeezes through. It’s amazing how cold and dark it is in this “valley”. When we were above it in the sun, it was warm and bright. Once we headed back into it, I cooled off so fast I was tempted to put my fleece back on but I knew better. We’d be climbing again for 8 miles and it would get warm above the clouds.
A few miles into the climb toward Mt. Baden-Powell we knew it was going to be rough. J and I hadn’t brought the right amount fuel and our blood sugar was dropping. See, when we plan to go on a 14 mile run, it usually means something around 2 or 2.5 hours. However, 14 miles in the freakin mountains means at least twice that amount of time, if not more. We were only 3 hours in, on our last pack of shot blocks, and climbing slowly. The cold mountain air was giving us that “cold chills” feeling, making us concerned that light-headed dizziness was next. BOO!
Running Hiking 101: Pack a crap ton of fuel. More than you do for just a run. Oh, and get a bladder that doesn’t leak and remember to close your water bottle lid.
At this point we were near Throop Peak (9,138 ft) and probably about 2 miles from Mt. Baden-Powell. We decided to call it. DNFing a training run?! Really?! We would’ve had to
beat up and rob Matt of all his well-packed supplies beg gels off Matt to really be able to keep going. He had just 6 or 7 miles left to go and he was probably better off without us could totally manage on his own.
So, about 5 or 6 miles from Islip Saddle, we turned back. We were not happy about not finishing the full route we had set out to do. However, this wasn’t the time to be stubborn for no real good reason. I just ran 13 miles the day before and we got to run/hike on some of the highest peaks around, finishing with a solid 14+ trail miles to show for it. I’m not going to lie, running down was an absolute blast!
Mighty Matt continued on without us, finishing his total of 28 or so miles or whatever. Wow. I think he was probably glad for some solo time. J and I aren’t fun to be around when we’re cranky. But who is?
We hit up Little Jimmy Springs on our way back down. Filling up our depleted water bottles was super important. This allowed us both to have a full serving of some much needed Nuun when we got back to our truck.
J and I normally spend our Sunday mornings at church, but I’m glad we headed out to the mountains this last weekend. Some lessons can’t be learned in a church. Some things need to be learned above the clouds, where the air is thin, and you realize how small and weak you are. At the same time, you realize how incredibly lucky and blessed you are to be able to get to these heights and enjoy this creation. I need to get out to these places more often.
Our ambitious adventure took it’s toll. J had a headache for two days and his feet protested by way of peeling. My quads definitely took a beating from the fun and fast descent down Throop Peak. I’m not going to lie. It felt good to be run sore.
J and I will return to bag Mt. Baden-Powell soon. It’s crazy to think that we only covered a 10th of the AC100 course and it beat us, hard. When talking with Keira on Saturday, she said that AC100 is the 3rd hardest 100 miler in California. She won it this year so she should know. I swear the men and women that run this race are not like regular human beings. They must be ultra beings.