About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What’s an ice cream cone doing in the middle of the desert?

This morning I’m in search of the “ice cream cone”. I don’t even know what it is that I’m looking for. All I know is that I’m supposed to run about 11 miles down this dirt road. So here I go with my family’s dog pack on a quest for the ice cream cone. My running partners today are Lucy, Sierra, Taz, Quasi, Harry, and Butch. (click here to meet our pack) We start our run from the “BR” Ranch (Neely Homestead) before the crack of dawn so it is quite chilly before this day breaks.

The route we are rambling parallels a stretch of the Rio Grande known as the "forgotten river” because of the remote area it flows through. We are so close to Mexico that we can see the recently constructed brown border fence. This road less traveled winds through some stunning scenery with the Quitman Mountains to the North. Before long we see bee hives stacked up on the side of the road and my dogs stop to investigate. The cool outdoor temperature has the bees huddling inside for warmth so the dogs are safe for now.

As I run, I begin to wonder about this ice cream cone out here in no-wheres-ville. Maybe it is a mirage that one sees after running for many hours in the desert sun. Perhaps there is a small West Texas town out here that serves Blue Bell. I see a Mexican village across the river and wish I could cross over for a frozen treat. I must be getting hungry, so take a few sips of gel that I carry on my fuel belt. A few more miles of running and I spot a hill full of blue bonnets.

I stop to photograph the state flower of Texas and speculate as to how these flowers came to grow on this little mound. I’ve seen a few isolated blue bonnets along the road, but this is a large patch growing in one area. I was once told that these plants are hard to grow, because the seeds must first be scored for them to germinate. Nature’s way is for Bison or other mega fauna to trample the seeds in order for them to sprout. Perchance cows have eaten, spread, and tramped on the seeds and now the flowers are showing their spring colors.

More running and again, I am wondering where this ice cream cone is. We have gone about 15 miles and I realize that two and a half hours have past. Crew Chief Cara was supposed to meet me 30 minutes ago to pick up the dogs and provide us with some refreshments. Is this some kind of late April fool’s joke? I’m out of water now, the sun is beating down, and vultures are circling overhead. No ice cream cone in sight, so I keep moving to keep the buzzards at bay. This is getting serious!

The river is nearby so I let the dogs take a swim and quench their thirst. They frolic happily and emerge refreshed. We keep running down the road. Almost three hours have passed, so we must turn around to head back. Where is our crew? Suddenly I hear a vehicle. My wife and her mom finally arrive.

Cara jumps out of the truck and annoyingly says to me, “You passed it”. I respond, “Passed what?” She replies, “You know – it. The ice cream cone.” I say, “Oh yeah, that.” Cara continues, “It was back there about three miles. Get in; we’ll give you a ride.” She hands me a breakfast burrito and gives the dogs some fresh water. My burrito is gone in seconds and we take a short ride. We arrive at an insignificant side road where I jump out. “Bye”, they say and quickly drive off leaving me all alone in the desert.

I start running and see some pretty wildflowers. I can’t ever pass up an opportunity for taking some pictures so I get on the ground and snap a few shots. My subjects are beautiful miniature purple blossoms with hairy green leaves. It is amazing what grows out here in the Chihuahuan Desert.

I run for a little while longer and, lo and behold, at the end of this rocky road stands a giant formation of earth and sandstone. Finally, the ice cream cone has revealed itself. This formation, known as a hoodoo, is skinny at the bottom and has a large dirt bulb on top. It appears that it could topple at any moment and I later learn that more than one “cone” once stood here before collapsing. I marvel at this phenomenon and the surrounding cliffs. How many years of rain and wind did it take to erode the earth to “scoop” this cone?

Well, now it’s time for the return trip. It seems quite lonely without my four legged running friends and 11 miles back in the sun and heat is quite a distance after traveling for 15 already. I sip some more gel and water and pick up the pace a bit. I backtrack for several more hours and finally make it back to the “BR” ranch for a total of 25 miles. I’ve had another successful running adventure despite passing my destination by three miles. A big thanks to my dedicated crew for getting me back on track. See you on the trail.

Our state flower, the blue bonnet

Quasi enjoys a swim

Rocky Road

Harry taking in the sunset

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