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."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pulling an All-Nighter



Tonight I’m heading out to run until tomorrow morning. Why would I want to do such a thing? Run all night long? Well, next month I’m running the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run (TRT100) and I have to train my mind to keep going all night. Tonight’s adventure will give me the opportunity to get used to running on rocky trails illuminated by headlamp only and to also experience sleep deprived running. Besides, we are having record breaking heat and my thermometer reads 101 degrees at 7pm.

After having a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs cooked by CCC (Crew Chief Cara), I don my Camelbak filled with H2O and my fuel belt with Hammer Gel and leave for the Rio Grande. It feels like a furnace outside when I start my running adventure so I make sure I take frequent sips of water. Dehydration is quite possible if I’m not careful. The good news is that the temperature will keep dropping all night long.

After about an hour of running I’m nearing the river and the sunset is breathtaking. There’s nothing like a western sunset and I can’t help but stop for a picture. As I run downhill towards the river I watch the fiery ball in the sky slowly disappear below the horizon. I reach the river at dusk and am amused watching the acrobatic maneuvers of the “bullbat”. Bullbats are not bats at all, but a bird species called the common night hawk. To attract a mate, a bullbat will plunge straight for the ground and at the last minute pull out of his dive creating a booming sound with his wings.

After running for three hours I arrive back home for some boiled potatoes, pretzels, and fluids. I refill my Camelbak and grab a handheld bottle of Hammer Sustained Energy and HEED sports drink. I also pack four bags of powdered drink mix that I will add to water that I have strategically placed along my route. I pack my snacks and head out again.

I run through my neighborhood towards the Franklin Mountains and then, after two miles, reach a steep rocky trail. My headlamp is working well at lighting the trail, but all I can really see is the round spotlight in front of me. I will be staring at this for the next eight hours. Interestingly, I notice a twinkling on the trail. I stop to take a closer look and it turns out that the strange phenomenon is the eyes of some type of spider. They are all over the place and their eyes glow much like an animal’s in the headlights of a car.

I plod along up and down some rolling single-track and then…SNAKE! Very close to my feet and fast. Luckily he’s very small and I don’t even have time to get a good look before the serpent is gone. Soon I come to a steep hill that leads me to Trans Mountain Highway. When I top the hill I’m at a roadside picnic area where I get a fine view of the city lights below. This is Saturday night; so many young couples are also up here doing what young couples do at such a place. I take a short break at a table, get a bite, and snap a few pictures of the twinkling lights below.

I continue along the highway and then come to Fusselman Canyon where I pickup my first water cache. The canyon is named for Texas Ranger and Deputy U.S. Marshall, Charles H. Fusselman who was killed in a gunfight in1890 while chasing a band of cattle rustlers through the canyon. The outlaw head honcho was finally captured, tried, and hanged 10 years later. This beautiful canyon has been used as a travel corridor and source of water, plants, and animals by Native Americans, settlers, and ranchers for at least 11,000 years.

After running down the road to the base of the mountain, I turn on Hwy 54 and head north until I reach a trailhead on the eastside of the mountain. My second cache of water is here so I refill my Camelbak and mix up some more sport drink. After eating some more potatoes and pretzels I depart up mountain towards Mundy’s Gap. It’s about 2:30am and I’m feeling surprisingly good. I’ve been able to keep my energy levels up, but just for good measure, I have a Hammer Gel; Espresso flavor with 50 mgs of caffeine. That should carry me over the mountain to daylight.

I’ve never hiked on this trail before, but have run over from the Westside to some tin mines that are not far from here. If I can locate the mines, I know the way across the mountain. Let’s hope I don’t get lost on this little adventure. (Click to read tin mine run) I follow a single-track trail towards the mountain for a while and then come to a T. Hmmmm…left or right? After exploring left for a short while, I determine that right is the correct way. The wind has been picking up on this side of the mountain and every shadow from blowing vegetation is a snake in my mind. I’m cautious when I approach every stick and then all of a sudden something scurries along the trail under my feet. It’s not a snake, but a scorpion. I’ve never seen one in the wild so must stop for a picture.

Once again I come to an intersection and must make a decision. I know I’m supposed to make a left turn to head up to the pass, but is this the one? I decide to take it and run for a good 30 minutes before this “trail to nowhere” comes to an end. After backtracking I continue on the previous trail and finally reach the mines. Now I know the way so I start my slog up the mountain. When, at last, I approach the top, the sun is beginning to rise, and what a gorgeous view! Running all night is well worth it and my spirits are lifted. I can do this.

After taking a quick self portrait, I start my run down the mountain to the Westside. Eventually I reach the end of the trail where I pick up my last water stash. I have a quick breakfast and then run the last 10 miles home. I reach my house at around 8:15am for a total of over 13 hours of running. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the sunset and rise and was able to get relief from the blazing sun and scorching temperatures. When I read the newspaper the next day, three hikers had to be rescued from the Franklins when one of them passed out. The paper also reported a record high of 110 degrees. Night running is the way to go. See you on the trail.

Turkey Vulture

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