“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Monday, August 5, 2013

Redemption and Tears

Sunday.  Bloody Sunday.   Wow.  I think I just dated myself, huh?

Yesterday (Sunday) found me once again driving south past Circleville to Tar Hollow State Park.  I'd decided to re-tackle the North Loop of the Logan Trail, the loop that had my friend Richard and I turning back a little over a month ago as we ran out of time.  (Another Wake Up Call).
It looks so innocent with the manicured flowered sign
After my more recent experience with the South Loop of the Logan Trail left it's mark, I wore capris, gators, and a long sleeve technical shirt to protect against scratches.  Based on instructions from my trainer, I wore my hiking boots instead of my mountain boots because of the heel pain issues I've been experiencing recently.  My husband (and my dad) insisted that bringing a machete would NOT be a good plan.  Party poopers.

The weather in Ohio could not have cooperated more!  It was a fantastic 65*F when I started, and still only 75*F when I finished, very unusual for the beginning of August.  My pack started at 45 lbs (estimated 7 lbs heavier than my Camp Muir pack will be).

The beginning of the hike started fairly uneventfully with a steep 300 foot climb.  During the climb I had to climb under that same tree from last time, and climb around a few trees.  The climbs were tough, but not as tough as I remembered them being.  Progress???
I meant to get a picture of the uphill behind me, but my aim sucks.
 In fact, I mostly focused on my new audio book and training, and didn't take many pictures in the first hour.  I had to laugh (and pull out my phone for a photo), when  I came across my first MAJOR tree scaling opportunity.
If you squint right - maybe it's the ice shelf I hear is present on the current Rainier route?
 And then, I had to take the phone back out when I saw this beautiful scenery.  It actually makes me smile to think that I was actually feeling good enough during the climb to ENJOY it when a beautiful view came along.  It helped that the thorn coverage wasn't nearly as extreme on the North Loop, and that I had long sleeve coverage to protect my arms.
Nature at it's finest
About an hour and 45 minutes in, I crested a ridge and a dirt road, the path turned back into the woods here, but I walked down the road a bit to get my first real extended view of the surrounding area and forest. I considered taking my first break here with the view - but since I was still feeling decent and this was my last major training hike, I stuck to the two hour plan.
I definitely enjoyed the view for a couple minutes first though.
Next, it was back into the trees...and again I was crawling under trees.  Again though, this time I laughed about it.  Could the weather be making this much of a difference?  (It was about 20*F cooler than when I hiked the South Loop a few weeks back).
At least these trees were mostly above my head and required minimal ducking
I enjoyed my first break at 1:58 minutes into the hike.  (I'd found a nice fallen tree near a creek to sit on).  I drank 20 oz of Gatorade in one gulp (or so it seemed), and a protein bar.  I checked my Garmin.  I'd been stopped for only 4 minutes.  Planned breaks on Rainier are 10-15 minutes, so I decided to wait for 10 minutes.  It was almost hard to stay resting for all 10.

I wondered around at the bottom of the valley for a while and missed the turn up a ridge.  I started getting into more and more dense crap and didn't see the red paint splotches that marked trees on the trail.  After a bit of searching, I backtracked and found the sharp turn just past a dry creek that led STRAIGHT up a ridgeline.  It was tough, and the pictures weren't doing it justice, so I decided to let my fact tell you how steep this was for Ohio.
It was steep, really!
Pictures never do a hill justice.
But, here you can see a GOOD paint splotch marking the trail.  Most were not that visible.
I took my second break at 3:32 minute mark.  Again, because I hit a location that was near a conveniently placed tree stump, and I'd passed the 7 mile mark, so I knew I had less than 3 miles remaining.  I had the rest of my Gatorade, some water, some trail mix and a Peanut Butter GU.  The trail mix was awesome, I will definitely be bringing that with me to Rainier.

As I continued on the trail, I couldn't resist smiling.  I was so close to done and I felt GOOD.  I'd been feeling so beat up during training lately, that I could barely hold back the feeling of elation that was threatening to overwhelm me.  So, naturally, this is where I encountered a tree that was too big to really climb over, I elected to climb around it, which still required some fancy footwork with a heavy pack and trekking poles.
I climbed up and over the root system instead..
After another big uphill, I got to enjoy some steady downhill (tough on my feet!) and more scenery.  I also missed a trail turn again, and had to back up and search for more red paint splotches.  Every slight bump on the road was merely shrugged off though.  It was the hike that couldn't be bad somehow.  Even when the gnats reappeared as it warmed up.

At 9.5 miles, I was near enough to my car that I could hear people playing basketball in the parking lot, and knew I just had to climb down off the ridge, but the only visible trails didn't go that direction.  My guidebook said to head north - which would have been a short fall off a steep cliff according to my compass.  I got a tad frustrated knowing which way I had to go, but not how to get there.  Ultimately, I choose to head one direction down the path and see if it turned, it did.  Before long, I was back to my car.

I dropped off my pack, downed some water, grabbed my change of clothes and headed to the primitive nearby restroom type facility to change before the long ride home.  I glance up and around me - and realized based on where I'd left from the lot and where I'd returned, I'd climbed over and around all those surrounding tree covered hills.  I was in awe and couldn't stop smiling.  I had to take pictures.  And of course, one picture couldn't capture it all...so here are two.
The hills between my car and the start of the trail, I really should have taken one more of the starting location.
My car and the hill I came down at the finish of the loop
All in all, I hiked 9.8 miles in 5:03:21 including two 10 minute breaks.  On the way home, after I ate my protein bar and drank some water, it's possible that I pounded the steering wheel in celebration/exaltation.  It's possible I got emotional enough to almost cry.

I'm officially in taper for the mountain.  Damn, if that isn't awesome enough to make me want to cry.

Have you ever had a peak training workout bring you to tears of joy that your long training session is over?  (I have to keep reminding myself, that my next couple of weeks will still be the same level of training mid-week.)


  1. What an amazing experience! Glad it went better this time:)

  2. Yay! I'm glad you had a great training hike! What a boost of confidence! :)

  3. What a great place for a hike! My mom grew up in Ohio, I hope someday to get ou there and see it.

  4. So proud of you! What an adventure! Sounds like it was a glorious day!!

  5. Great work--it looks awfully muggy in those photos to me, but you rocked it. You are so ready. I hope you enjoy the taper--DO NOT freak yourself out.

  6. Glad you had a great training hike! I am definitely seeing some places in Ohio I never knew existed through your posts!


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