I fall back asleep, wake to feed the restless dogs at 6am, and lay in bed until around 7:45a.m.
The rain has subsided, cool (re: 70s) temperatures are in the forecast, and it is beautifully overcast outside.
I now have no argument against it for myself. I start to get dressed. I have a momentary thought of asking myself if I should alter any of my normal running clothes. Decide I shouldn't think about it too much.
I tell Adam my plan. He gives a look. The I know you are going to do it anyway because you're crazy, but I worry. He tells me to make sure I have my road ID so that when they find my body between 2 boulders, they'll know who I am.
I eat an untoasted bagel without peanut butter. Somehow I'm too lazy to toast it or even dip it in peanut butter. Runner logic. I decide to bring the last one in the bag in case I'm hungry after my adventure.
Soon, I am jamming out to classic rock in my 4x4 headed to the mountains like I do this every weekend. I stop at Starbucks to get a giant iced coffee. Black please, no sugar (in case you are ever making me coffee, this is important).
I see cyclists pumping hard in a single line on the far right hand shoulder. They look tired. I start to have a twinge of what the heck am I doing up here?
But I climb up and over the mountains with my car and find the entrance to Vogel State Park like I knew exactly where I was going. I cautiously drive into the civilized portion of the park and am relieved to see A) a restroom and B) a welcome center. They are hit up in priority order. As I am inside the welcome center, I overhear a hiker talking to one of the rangers about a recent bear sighting. He's all like don't worry, I have bear spray. I'm all like I'm just going to pretend I am not hearing this conversation and I am soon headed back to my car with a trail map to tuck my fuel belt pocket.
My stomach is feeling kind of empty. I decide to eat my post-run bagel pre-run.
Key, 3 gels, map, phone, 2 10 ounce bottles of water. I am going to need more water. I tuck a 16-ounce bottle of water in the crook of my arm and head for the trail head.
Run, run, run.....wheee!!!!! This is so fun and it's so pretty and I can see why everyone loves trails! Half a mile in, I'm panting like I just did mile repeats. I pull out my trail map and actually look at the elevation chart. Oh, we're going up!
Why did I do this yesterday?:
The next 2 miles are almost all downhill. The terrain is rocky, full of roots, and slightly muddy. I love it.
I see this sign as I'm crossing over a road, headed into the last climb:
I climb 800' in the next half mile and it takes every ounce of my mental strength to push forward. My body is still doing okay enough, but I am literally pulling myself because the grade is so steep.
And then those beautiful ferns come into sight and I know the top is close.
No lookout again, but I'm satisfied because it is all downhill from this point!
I'm less than a half mile into the downhill section when I pass 4 hikers coming up. I say something like good afternoon, beautiful day to be out here, right? They nod and smile. Then one of the women in the group says wow, you are really badass!
I smile and carry on. Thank you random stranger!
The last few miles I tried to fly when I could. There were sections that were a bit flatter that I actually felt like I was running, but I mostly was just trying to keep my body from falling down the hill.
When I realized I was pretty close to the camp after the trails opened up in the following mile, I decided to just take a quick sip from the trail water because it was cold. I claim to know zero about drinking "wild" water other than it should come from a source that is moving. But this tasted pretty amazing. Cold and clear. If I turn up dead from a weird parasite...well, you know what happened.
Just before I got back to the park area, I took a turn too soon and ended up finishing my route along the roads of campsites. I was happy to be back in civilization and relieved that for the last half mile I didn't have to worry about trip over rocks or tree branches.
When I reached my car, I texted Adam that I was alive and unhurt. I grabbed my wallet and walked back into the welcome center on a mission.
After going the long way home (amazing that I made it through 12 miles in the woods without GPS, but I ended up taking a longer route home...), I uploaded Penelope to see just what the heck happened out there: