Thursday, September 15, 2011

8000 Meter Challenge - Mt. Baldy (11 miles)

After a pretty good night's sleep, we woke up at 4:00 a.m. and immediately began breaking down our tents.  I had someone heat up some water for me so I could have a cup of coffee.  I don't often have to function without a cup of coffee and I figured today wasn't the day to give it a try.  Two packets of instant coffee in a cup and a little hot water.  It wasn't great but it did the trick.  I brushed my teeth and was ready to roll.  I actually slept in the clothes I wanted to hike in, to save precious time in the morning.  We were less than 1/2 a mile from the start but had to drive so our car would be ready for us when we made it back down the first mountain. 

At exactly 4:38, the campground literally cleared out!

All the cars heading out
We got to the start with our headlamps on and I noticed how quiet it was.  I'm not sure if it's because it was so stinking early or if everyone was as scared as I was.  I was petrified!  I told my team mate I thought I was going to throw up. 

Me and Joshua

Kazu, Ryan, Haddie, Leanne

5:00 comes and we're off!  We're not moving fast but we're moving quick for this early in the morning.  Did you read my previous post and that I thought this hike was going to be up a fire road for 5.5 miles and back?  I found out early this morning that we were cutting off the fire road, just less than a mile in and would be climbing up some single track.  While the single track was exciting to me, the climbing was a lot different than my hike the day before.

As we turned off to the single track trail I was trying hard to stay in the front part of my team.  I wanted to be in the first car to the second mountain so it would give me more time for the longer hike.  I got stuck behind a slow group and didn't ask to pass for about 10 minutes.  Nobody was talking.  Everybody was just breathing hard and trekking as best as they could.  When it flattened out a bit, I passed.  It was too late though.  I could not see the faster hikers from my team.  There were three of them.  I was alone now, there were three hikers from my team behind me somewhere. 

The terrain was very rocky and a lot of loose gravel.  As I was hiking up, I knew it was not going to be easy to run down.  Part of my plan was to run down so I could make up some time that way.  The further up I went, the worse the trail got. 

About 90 minutes into the hike, the sun started to come up and the views were spectacular.  I had to take some pictures.

Kazu caught up with me and was cheering me along.  I was definitely moving much slower than I thought I would.  Since I passed those hikers earlier, there really wasn't any more flat sections.  My heart rate was staying between 146 and 150 but it FELT like it was about 180. I was having trouble breathing and my head began to pound.  Roughly a mile before the summit, I got tunnel vision.  I've never had that before and it was pretty scary for me. 

Pretty darn steep, eh?

Please tell me I'm almost there!

Atop Mt. Baldy.  Does it look like I want to die?  I do!
Kazu and I made it to the top in 2.5 hours.  20 minutes after the first three hikers on our team.  I had no time to waste.  I grabbed a Clif bar out of my pack and ate it as I made my way down the mountain.  Kazu seemed to have no trouble bouncing around the rocks but I was not comfortable on my feet at all.  This was probably due to the fact that I rolled my ankle on Mission Peak the Saturday before this hike.  I was running down with Theresa and heard it pop as it rolled.  I was even on the fence about attempting this hike.  When I figured out I couldn't run down, I knew I might be in trouble.  I had a lot of miles to cover by 5:00 a.m. Friday morning. 

Kazu, my "fearless" leader
We took one wrong turn on the way down that led us down into some big rocks.  I had to climb out of it to get back onto the trail.  This just about killed me.  We lost time here and it completely took the wind out of my sails.  Once we got back to the fire road though, I was able to run the rest of the way down to the car and feel like I made up some good time there.

We were back to the car at 9:00.  FOUR hours after starting.  I was really hoping to be back before 8:30.  The first car was gone so Kazu and I hopped in his car and Haddie and Leanne were right behind us in Leanne's car.  I changed my socks and shoes and tried to eat something.  Nothing sounded good at all.  I had completely drained my 2 liter bladder on the first hike and I felt bloated.  I grabbed some mini powdered donuts and a few chocolate ones.  They tasted good at the time but a few minutes later, while Kazu was quickly trying to drive us to San Gorgonio through windy one-lane roads, I was starting to feel sick to my stomach.  Four separate times, I considered having him pull over so I could throw up.  I talked myself out of it.  Somehow. 

We pulled into the San Gorgonio parking lot at 10:20.  It was 91 degrees.  We had 18 miles to hike. 

That hike will be my next post. 

Until later.............


Runnerchiq... said...

I have run/hiked Baldy before on a regular day (not hot, and not during a race!) and this sounds just brutal! I know how long it can take, and it's always a little surprising. I can't believe you guys still had to hike after this - looking forward to reading that part!! Great job in finishing the race!

Ewa said...

Now this was quite an experience. I cannot believe you had the strength to take pictures, and they are great too.
You are one tough cookie to do this with an injured ankle.