Sunday, August 7, 2011

Eating Dirt and Leaving Blood on the Trails in Tahoe

Saturday morning I packed my running gear and headed up to Coach Nikon's cabin in Tahoe. He had invited some of us runners for a nice 20 mile run in Tahoe. Earlier in the week I didn't think I was going to be able to make it. My legs were still fatigued and not responding on my runs. But when I woke up on Thursday they felt solid so I ventured up there to check out some trails I have never been on.

There were a total of six of us, I knew from the company I was in I would be bringing up the rear and I was ok with that.

Heading out

We headed out and had to cross highway 50 to hit the single track trail. Once on the single track trail it was a 2.5 mile descent. The views were beautiful. We could see highway 99, the lake and trees forever.

Just breathtaking

Maybe a mile in we had a water fall crossing we had to negotiate. On the right side are the rocks and water fall that we walked through and on the left is a shear drop off. The water felt cool on my feet. I really didn’t notice the extinct of how high we were until the climb out. The trail had a nice gradual downhill till we reached the base. We even went through a canopy like orchard of Aspens with a little bit of snow runoff. I had to duck and bob and weave to avoid the branches but also had to remember to be careful as the drop off was still pretty significant.

Canopy of Aspens

Once at the base we regrouped as the group spread out a bit. I didn’t bomb the downhill section as I didn’t want to blow up my legs and there were still plenty of miles to go. Coach Nikon explained the next few miles to us. It was a rolling upward terrain. Very run able. The terrain was very run able and the gradual incline wasn’t as steep as I have seen on other trails in the Tahoe area. I respected some of the rolling terrain and found myself power hiking while the rest of group charged on.

At the base of the descent, regrouping

Coach Nikon was very awesome and would wait for me to make sure I was doing ok. That is one of the great things about running with him; he lets you and encourages you to run your own pace. It was a welcoming sight to see him and we would run a bit together, he would tell me the rest of the group were maybe 4-5 minutes ahead. Not that bad, I wasn’t that far behind then!

I was still climbing and I needed to walk. Coach Nikon looked excellent on the climb. It looked effortless for him. I lost sight of him but I knew I would be seeing him later. My legs during this climb were feeling pretty good. I was able to run sections at a time and then I would hike for a bit. I was off in my own little world when I heard Coach Nikon yell my name. I yelled back “I am here.” Thinking he didn’t hear me I blew my whistle so he would know I was just around the corner. He told me he had lost all his water from his camel back. He had accidentally popped off the bite valve and when he set the pack down to go to the bathroom, his water dumped out. We both sort of laughed at his situation, but he had a bottle on him and would be filling up at the lake. One good thing was it made his pack lighter as he was also carrying the filter to clean the lake water.

The little bit of snow we saw

We continued on our way, still climbing. I was getting a bit tired from climbs and frustrated for some reason. But then I remembered that on the return this would all be downhill and a section to make up some ground if I wanted. That seemed to calm me down for a bit. Not long I arrived at Round Lake, the group was waiting and we all regrouped. We had maybe 1.5-2 miles before our turn around spot. The lake was beautiful, there were a quite a few people enjoying the water and the sunshine.

Round Lake

We continued on and after leaving the lake we had another good climb. This climb was also very runnable and the group quickly left my sights. I climbed and eventually came out to a meadow and a short bit later the turn around. I could see the group in the distance doing “the mosquito dance” as we were near a water source refilling our water supply. The mosquitos were out in force once I stopped. I refilled my pack with Coach Nikon and we refilled his one bottle and quickly turned around and headed back.

Coming back to Round Lake

I knew the group was going to bomb the return and sure enough they did. I never saw them again. I took my time on the return just letting the trail carry me down. I remembered the way back so I wasn’t nervous about getting lost. I was again just in my own little world. I just kept placing one foot in front of the other and enjoying the moment and beauty of where I was. I could smell the pine trees, I could smell the dirt, I could hear the wind through the trees and I heard the insects buzzing about. My senses were enjoying every minute of this run. How lucky am I to be able to run such gorgeous trails?

Soon a voice took me out of my trance. It was Coach Nikon. He had come back for me to check on me. He told me the group had started the climb back to the cabin. I had maybe another mile before reaching that climb. We chit chatted as we ran down the mountain. Coach Nikon telling me he knew he didn’t need to worry about me because he knew I was a smart runner and wouldn’t freak out or get lost. I found those words comforting.

The trail was pretty rocky with some huge rocks, larger then both my fist combined. Coach Nikon was in the lead and I was talking about something when the next thing I knew I was face first on the trail. Both of my feet had been tripped up. It is explained best as a dropped phone call. One second I was talking the next just the sound of body hitting the trail and bouncing a bit. Coach Nikon immediately turns around and sees my laying on the trail. I think I told him I was ok, but I don’t even think I responded to his questions. My left fingers were hurting and bloody, I was caked in dirt on my left arm. My left arm had somehow gotten tangled up underneath me and my fingers were slammed into the ground. I think my force landed on my left fist as that is where most of my pain was. I was still laying on the trail trying to make sense of what just happened. Coach Nikon said I was real lucky because my head landed perfectly in-between two rocks. If I had landed a few inches either way my head would have hit the rocks and a more serious injury would have occurred. I started to cry from the shock and slowly gathered myself up off of the trail trying to still asses what happened. I told him “my fingers” that is all I could get out. He asked if I could move my fingers, I could but it was painful, there wasn’t any immediate swelling. As I got to my feet I wanted to get moving but Coach Nikon was still making sure I was ok. He told me not to move too quickly to stay put, he didn’t want me to pass out. I must have been in shock from the impact. I remember him telling me to stay put. Slowly things started to register again and I quietly told him “I think that fall scared me more than anything.” My fingers were bloody and throbbing and we slowly continued on down the trail, slowly meaning we were walking and then started running a few yards later.

I don’t know what I tripped over but I hit the ground hard. Coach Nikon didn’t see it but he heard it.

My battle wounds, do I look funny in this picture? As in really short?

As we finished the descent and were picking up the fire road to take us to the climb out, Coach Nikon was telling me how he had knocked himself out on a run awhile ago. As he was reminiscing his right foot caught a root and I see him flying to the ground. His fall happened so quickly he didn’t have time to try and recover. I remember seeing his right leg take out his left leg and as he hit the ground his water bottle flies out of his hand and bounces on the trail. I am in shock at what I just saw. We are both laughing, because it just happened so quickly. His foot found the one obstacle on the trail. I am laughing so hard that I almost pee my pants. I help him up and by this point we still don’t understand what just happened. We are both laughing so hard at what just happened to both of us. As I am typing this I am laughing at the scene in my head.

Showing off his battle wounds, don't mind the water bottle.

Since we both just fell and are pretty banged up Coach Nikon suggest we walk for a bit to regroup. I was totally ok with that. My hand was burning and I cooled it down in the river. We ended up walking the fire road to the single track trail. There were a few hikers out who looked us up and down and cross eyed. We both looked like the walking wounded. We were caked in dirt, I could taste the dirt in my teeth, I could feel the dirt on my face, my left arm was dirty, the front of my shirt was covered in dirt and a little blood, my left hand had some deep cuts on it and my legs and shorts were covered in dirt. Coach Nikon looked a little better, he wasn’t as covered in dirt as he fell in the grass, but he did have a little blood on his shirt from me and he had scrapped his arms up a bit. The walking wounded. We still had at least 4 miles to go.

Water fall crossing

We started the climb out keeping a nice steady pace. By this time the trail was basking in the sunlight and it was a bit warm. Hiking up I realized how close the drop off is and one mistake could send us over the edge. We neared the water fall and cautiously crossed. Then the real steep part is upon us. Coach Nikon told me it reminded him of the climb up Devils Thumb. We could see where we needed to go which sucks because of how steep it was. Once on the top we had on last major obstacle, crossing highway 50.

In the middle of the water fall

The view going down the cliff, it really was steeper then this looks

The trail, notice how close it is to the cliff?

Traffic was much heavier and as we started to job across a car came around the bend and we both started sprinting as we still had a ways to go. We made it across and slowly made our way back to the cabin. The last mile was brutal, we were so close but we were still climbing on the pavement. We ran the small descent and arrived back at the cabin in one piece, well sort of.

Jumping Bean doing planks after the run

Doing bicep curls with a coke and a beer, much better then planks!

The run was great; it was just what I needed as my last long run before Run on The Sly 50k in two weeks. Coach Nikon gave me a confidence boost saying a 5 hour 20 mile run at elevation is really good, especially with the climbs we did today. I always enjoy running with Coach Nikon because he is very positive and encouraging and that is very contagious. Thanks to everyone who ventured out on this adventure.

 Out of the 6 of us 3 of us fell. 50% ate dirt on the trail in Tahoe. I left some blood there and I took some Tahoe dirt home with me as it is embedded in the cuts on my fingers.

1 comment:

  1. I had a fantastic time out there w/everyone!!! Sorry you hurt uself! I will see you @ Sly!!

    Jumping Bean