Mar 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm #1300005
A brief report on my side of the BPL CRHT run across Joshua Tree last weekend.
Thanks to everyone that made it!Mar 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm #1961505
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
That's a great report. The wisdom of Spongebob goes too often unappreciated.Mar 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm #1961528
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
yet another huge +1
for the adventure and the writingMar 4, 2013 at 9:41 pm #1961576
great report Craig!
I'll add my report to yours :) First and foremost, Joshua Tree NP is a stunning area-stark and raw, but every bit as beautiful as the mountains I play in. I found it to be a place you need to respect if you venture very far into it's vast of wilderness. My tale is actually two tales. The first tale starts at 4:00 AM as we grab a quick bite to eat, drink some coffee and grab our gear. We all head out in John's van. Sandra graciously offered to drive the van back to our ending point (Black Rock campground) and also to help crew and cheer us on at the half way point (Ryan's campground). After stashing water and taking advantage of the bathroom, we headed onto our starting destination. We arrived almost spot on to our planned time and departed at 6:40 AM. The temps were in the upper 50's and the views looked like postcards. I felt great and set out with what I thought was a reasonable pace. There were mile markers every mile and they seemed like they were flying by. I set up a regime of running a mile, walking 30 seconds-drinking and eating as I walked and then repeat- it felt great. The surface was often loose sand which slowed the pace some, but wasn't overly bothersome. I was paying attention to the mile markers and my watch and was very pleasantly surprised to see how quickly the miles were getting eaten up. Adan must have been feeling it as well as we often flipped places. I was soaking in all of the beauty of the desert and enjoying the sun on my face (it's been a rather long-ish winter in Montana!) I'm not sure I ever felt better on a run and before I knew it we were fast approaching the half way point. We were only a couple of miles from the half way point when I noticed Adan on the side of the trail stretching. I thought that was a good idea, but that I'd wait till I got to the campground. We made a pretty decent climb, but it left us with a wonderful downhill section and I was just giddy about that.
This is where the second tale starts, just a couple of miles before the half way point. As I headed into this glorious downhill, both my calves revolted with agonizing cramps. Not believing this could be happening, I kept running- but not for long. Not a problem, just need a little rest from running, so I eased into a nice walk. Before too long most of the guys were catching up and passing, but we all (minus Craig!) ended up at Ryan's within minutes of each other (a little under 4 hours). I sat in some nice shade as the temps had started to climb and were probably in the low 70's by now. I refilled bottles and bladder, proud of the fact that my fueling and hydration strategy was working perfectly- I had water left in two bottles upon reaching the campground. Unfortunately my calves were still cramping, Adan was still cramping as well (his was in several muscle groups). We decided to head out together and figured walking another mile would ease our woes. This wasn't the case and every time we started to run, it wasn't long before one or both of us was cramping. So we walked more and ran less, much less. The temps continued to slowly warm and wasn't long before it seemed hot. Somehow we both managed to change up our gait and run even while our muscles rebelled. At roughly the 23 mile mark it appeared as though we were gaining back some of our early glory and the thought of catching up and even passing the front runners (Jacob, John and Art) was very possible. We arrived at a long switched back section and even in our funny gaits we were making good time. We let out a couple of loud war whoops and attacked (attack in the context of two runners who don't quite realize the wheels are about to come off) the switchbacks with gusto! As we headed down and down, it finally begged the question where we headed. Adan most of had the same thought as we were both looking for signs of the trail in the distance. Soon our question was answered, the trail goes up- way up; way, way up! This is where I could feel the axle nut loosening and the wheels about to let go. We put our heads down and headed up. The breeze was gone, the sun bright and our pace almost a crawl.
It was at this point that I realized my hydration "strategy" was seriously flawed- at the rate we were going I would be out of water long before our ending point. At one of the switch backs there was a large juniper that was offering up a very alluring shady spot. I sat down in the shade and immediately both calves revolted and I had to painfully straighten out my legs. It wasn't long and Adan rounded the bend and also took relief in the shade, but not before he also convulsed with cramps. The cool shade felt wonderful and I commented how I could stay here forever. Adan pointed out that was probably a very common thought with a lot of people who died in the desert. With that thought, we gave up our oasis and pressed on. I took very small sips of water, knowing that I had to stretch my resources as much as possible. I approached another switchback and noticed something out of place deep in a prickly bush. Could it really be what it looked like? A Gatorade bottle filled to the top with clear water. I didn't do any scientific testing and instead unscrewed the lid and took a deep drink. Adan wasn't waiting for any testing either and he took a long drink as well. I filled my one almost empty water bottle to the brim and Adan took the rest. Angels at work, no one will convince me otherwise.
Unfortunately the high point was short lived as we still had a lot of climbing to do and were only at the 27 mile marker. Adan was convinced someone was playing a dirty trick on us and moving the mile markers apart- I agreed. Eventually we hit Lower Covington Flats and we were once again able to "run", this was not very long lived though as we had to take the fork of the trail to Upper Covington Flats. I knew that this wasn't good, as typically Upper usually means higher than Lower. Once again heads down and climb, and then climb some more. An eternity later we crested the Upper Flats and could see a long wash that eventually would lead us back to camp- just 8 short miles to go. Not too far after the crest, there was a fork in the trail with a sign that said Eureka Peak 2.4 miles. I yelled up to Adan if wanted to quickly bag Eureka Peak before heading down. He responded that wasn't 8&#@@ing funny! I thought it was and started laughing, unfortunately the laughing fit made double over with cramps- now Adan did find the humor in that!
As we started down the long wash it was apparent that we were likely going to be in deep, loose sand the rest of the way. This was not a good sign. To make matters worse, the joker who was stretching the mile posts out was now spreading them out even farther! After a couple of miles of fighting deep sand, a very sour stomach and the thoughts of walking for the rest of my life, I decided to run. I told Adan of my plan and In hindsight that might not have been the wisest choice, but caution was thrown into the wind and I ran, not fast mind you, but faster than walking (later at camp Adan said he felt inspired and decided to run as well, he said things went pretty good for awhile but then had no less than four muscle groups seize up at the same time and went straight into the sand head first! I should also add that Adan was having serious issues with one of his shoes, adding even more woe).
I finally made it, much worse for the wear. When I arrived I met Jacob who had finished in a impressive 9 hours. At his camp was standing David. Wait a minute a damn minute, how could David be standing in camp- he was behind us! I'll let David tell his story :) I headed up to our camp and met John and Art- they looked to be in pretty good shape (well compared to me anyways) and found out they made it in about 10 hours. I wanted to eat, but couldn't. David gave a frozen smoothie and I diluted it with water and sipped. I was slowly recovering when Adan made it to camp, now I know what I must have looked like when I arrived. It was dark for awhile and everyone was a little concerned with Craig still out there and like a specter out of the darkness Craig appeared, smiling like Sponge Bob- amazing!
As we sat around the campfire and shared our experiences, the woes were quickly washed away and soon we were bantering what our next adventure was going to be!
Thanks gents!Mar 4, 2013 at 9:55 pm #1961583
@davidpcvsamoaLocale: East Bay, CA
Thank you Craig for setting this up and sharing an outing in your backyard. I feel fortunate to be able to join the group. I have long admired thoughtful posts, inspiring trips, insightful comments and funny musings of the J tree attendees on BPL. It is nice to be able to know get to know everyone as more than their avatar.
The great comradery and support made the trip a memorable and fun trip for me. I truly feel humbled by the approach and ability of those of this trip. That includes a both being Sponge Bob for a day or getting a glimpse inside John's running obsessed mind. My only regret was not having more time or energy to spend around the campfire.
I am already looking forward to the next one.
Big ups to Sandra for being the ultimate supporter.
My story of first half fun and second half pain was similar to Mike's. Just before the midway point I was getting minor cramps in my calves and more disconcerting was the pain in my hips. After taking a 30 to 40 minute refuel, I was resolved not to take DNF and set out to complete to second leg. In hindsight, venturing out in the desert heat feeling far less than 100 percent may not have been a wise move. I was off a few minutes after everyone else.
I thought I would warm up again after a mile or two of hiking but it never really happened. I was unable to run more than a continuous mile on the second leg. Flats were painful and downhills were agonizing. The uphills actually became a relief on my lower body but the heat and aerobic challenge made it no less of a challenge. After a long climb in a section where the air was hot and stagnant I saw Mike and Adan. I felt an real sense of relief to see them and that my brief thoughts of dying alone in the desert were now out of the question. I resolved to try and keep up but when Mike and Adan started running a downhill section my hips just wouldn't cooperate. Right before the Upper Covington turn off they ran out of sight. I totally snoozed it the night before at the campfire when directions were given about needing to take the Upper Covington turn off. Plus I somehow forgot to take the map Craig to the time to make for me and I only had this featureless crap map I printed out. I missed the turnoff and took the wrong trail to a day use area with a BBQ and, dirt road and parking lot. I knew I had gone wrong but I remembered Craig explaining that there was a trail to get back on course if someone missed the turn. I walked down the dirt road and eventually came to a turnoff for a road with a sign that said trailhead. I knew this was the direction I needed to go to head toward Black Rock so I walked down the road. After a mile or so of walking I still had not reached the trailhead or parking area. I was become concerned and had visions of spending a night in the desert. Since I didnt know for sure what was at the end of the side road I decided to double back to the main road and start walking towards Yucca Valley and hope I could get ride. After walking a few more miles on the main road I caught a ride from some dayhikers. I was dropped off in the Yucca Valley Walmart parking lot. Sandra showed up to save my day. Thanks to car rides I beat Mike to camp just in time to surprise the hell out of him and make him think he saw a trail ghost. Maybe he shouldn't have been so surprised at seeing strange things after drinking mysterious water in the desert.
It was a fun adventure.Mar 5, 2013 at 11:23 am #1961743
Great reports guys, and a great trip!
Mine is here: LSD at Joshua Tree
Some cell phone pics during the run…
Headed out there somewhere…
David cruising along, still smiling!
Mike out in front, followed by Adan and John
Miles of Joshua Trees
Lucky number 13 :)
Saddle ascent, the moon above
Mile 19, half way there!
Me & a Cactus
Now alone. Looking back from where I came.
My phone was pretty much done cooperating after this, too much salt on the screen. The rest of these photos were taken around camp before or after the run, I used a real camera this time, Sandra took most of these actually…Mar 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm #1961763
@lopezLocale: San Gabriel Valley
Stunning, tough, surprising, friendship, hilarious, memorable, game-changing. What a day.
I always wish for more time before and after these things, this was a great group of people and there's always more questions that I think of later. Running again with the Rim pack was like meeting up with your old gang, good to shake their hands again and hear how their training has been growing. My usual running partner there and his easy going style, the veterans as always had a huge impact on me, still processing all the stuff i learned from these guys. The new guys, David and Jacob, talk about bad mofos, they just killed it. And Mike, dude i laughed through some pretty miserable moments, throw us two in a volcano and we'll probably crawl out laughing our butts off at how funny we look with our skin melting off.
I have some serious homework to do regarding cramping. But hey, now I can rest assured that, even when the wheels come off and things fall apart, I still got another 20 miles and some good laughs in me. Eugene, missed you out there buddy, next time. 2014.Mar 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm #1961773
First off, I'll say that John and I had a truly great weekend hanging out and running with you all (John doesn't lurk or post here but he definitely loved every minute).
Second, Jacob is either a really big sandbagger or one of the best natural talents I've seen in a while. In spite of his claimed apprehensions, he had an amazing day.
Yeah, Adan and Mike, with John acting as the rabbit for the first mile, took off like bullets. It was all I could do to keep up, and by mile 12 I wondered if they had done some secret training I wasn't aware of, but then the cramps they mentioned set in, and once again I knew they were human. Dave and I traded places often for the first half, while Jacob kept popping up on top of rocks. Craig had designated himself as course sweeper in case anyone crashed and burned.
We all arrived at Ryan within minutes (except Craig). John and I have run together a lot, so we headed out on the second half together, we know each others pace to the mili second and tend to get into a rhythm. Jacob caught us a few miles later, but soon felt our plodding ultra technique was not to his liking and took off. We knew we wouldn't see him till the end. John and I felt strong and continued our plodding ways. We run the same pace whether we're going 10 miles or 100. Downhill running is my strong suit, and when we hit the last 7 miles, all downhill, I figured it would be done in no time. but our loose weave shoes filled up with sand so badly my toes ached from the cramped feeling, and I couldn't take advantage of what I like to do best. Why didn't we stop and empty the sand ? A question I ask myself even today, but I guess we just figured we were almost there. We finally found the finish and Jacob was there to greet us. A while later, Mike and Adan came in, suffering badly from their 12 mile sprint early in the day. I don't really think Dave got lost, he apparently had smelled that Barbeque and headed towards town. At any rate, he was safe. And Craig pulled up in just under 12 hours, having made sure no one was left out on the course. His slow and steady approach was definitely the wisest one of the day, as evidenced by him being the only one to head for the beer after the trail.
Great effort guys … and Sandra, our crew extraordinaireMar 6, 2013 at 8:08 am #1962063
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
Awesome job guys, individually and collectively.
Thanks for the inspiration.
IkeMar 6, 2013 at 9:29 am #1962104
Mike – I forgot to ask you around the campfire how your new pack worked out.
particularly interested in your opinion of the front bottle setup.Mar 6, 2013 at 10:47 am #1962141
Mike, I was also curious about that. Looked like a great setup. The dual bottles up front with option for bladder in back is what I think I'd like to do on the next one of these.
What did everyone else carry for a pack?
I had a Nathan HPL 20.Mar 6, 2013 at 12:17 pm #1962192
got to say- great reports/pics guys!
re: AK pack- I'll update my review thread as well, but it carried like a dream- had a full liter in the main compartment, w/ the two bottles up front- at no time was it discomfortable, no chaffing, no shifting about- bottles were easy to access/replace
it's a keeper :)Mar 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm #1962210
I carried a Black Diamond BBEE.
I'm wanting to buy the Ultimate Direction Peter Bakwin model though…I like up front bottles. I did that on my BBEE with a velcro strap, but I'd like proper pocket, as well as more little areas for accessible gels, etc.Mar 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm #1962222
Both John and I used a Nathan HPL 20 for the Josh run, we had 2 handhelds, and 2 spare bottles in the pack. Neither of us uses a bladder.
The Nathan is a nice pack and carries well, but some times you just want a bit more volume.
For the Grand Canyon we both used the Black Diamond Bbee which has double the capacity of the Nathan. We carried more clothes and more food.
I am seriously looking at the UD SJ or UD PB. I really like the front carry bottle concept.Mar 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm #1962243
@nickbLocale: Los Padres National Forest
Nice job guys. Sounds like you had a challenging and rewarding run. Winter/spring in the desert is nice.
Maybe one of these days I'll work up the nerve to try to join y'all on a long run. I'm presently training for a triathlon that involves a 26 mile trail run. If I can survive that, I'll have a bit more confidence to commit to something like this.
@Mike M, glad to hear you're still liking your UD vest. I picked one up recently (SJ vest) to start wearing as my distances continue to increase.
@Craig W, I initially liked the PB vest too as I thought it was a nice size to do double duty as a day hike pack but based on the sizing options I was worried I couldn't fit into the ML size with a 45" chest. That left the SJ vest as my only apparent option, surprisingly it seems to run a little big and I've got enough room for a comfy fit.Mar 7, 2013 at 8:33 am #1962625
I thought I spotted a couple other Nathan's out there.
I wished I had some more time around the campfire to chat and check out gear, etc… I was literally falling asleep in my chair that night after the run.
I was also eyeballing the UD PB. Looks like a great pack for self supported runs where extra clothes or potential for bivvying come into play. I liked the looks of that AK also; the idea of bottles upfront appeals to me. I may start by swapping out my Nathan for an AK.
@Nico, I would say if you're training for a tri that involves a 26 mile run, you're good to go :) I don't even want to guess what the swim must be, but I know I would drown. Before this I never ran more than 20 miles and I lived to tell the tale. I still may not have run much more than 20 miles, I fast walked most of the uphill.Mar 7, 2013 at 8:56 am #1962637
Jacob – don't fret over only running 20 out of 38.
there is a lot of power walking in ultras, something to specifically train for.
as ultras go, our course was relatively flat with only 3,500 feet of elevation gain (within the course). and some course are so rocky even the flats are hard to run well.
things to train for in ultra running :
1. downhill running
2. uphill power walking
3. most courses do not have as much flat as we had
4. fast turnover at aid stations (we were pretty casual).Mar 7, 2013 at 9:28 am #1962651
Art, don't sell us short man! That was 4500 ft of gain!! :) It would have been 3500 if we ran from the other direction.
I got your points of course. I definitely need to practice running more hills. You'd laugh if you saw the 'hills' I encounter on my weekly runs.
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