Ready to roll.
So Ramage Peak trail definitely beat me.
The first mile was hard, but doable. Just the usual rolling hills covered in oaks and a verdant sea of poison oak. Then we came out into open grassland and I started to think I was in trouble.
I stayed pretty cheerful though.
We climbed a hill and looked back
At all the hills.
And my fun trail run became a horrible death march. I realized I was never going to make it eight miles to the end of the trail and decided I’d have to run “for time” instead — they say just staying on your feet and moving can be almost as hard as running the actual mileage. Modified goal: slog out, as fast as possible, for two hours, then turn around.
Dixie thought there was no real need to keep going – there was plenty of food where we were.
And danger lurked ahead, making terrifying gobbles.
A victim of a turkey attack, no doubt.
I felt for that cow, y’all.
We slogged on, through green fields and forested creek ravines. Dixie found something to snack on everywhere — grass in the fields and poison oak in the forests.
The trail hadn’t been maintained in a long time, and in a few spots branches grew low over the path. I was shoving my way through one tangle of twigs, thinking about how when I came back, I needed to bring the clippers I keep in my trailer, when something green smacked me dead in the face and I realized it was poison oak.
“MOTHER FUCKER!” I bellowed at the top of my lungs. (Well, I hadn’t seen a single other person on trail all day, so.)
Oddly, that broke the misery of the trek, and I started enjoying myself again. I started singing to my horse and having a much more cheerful time.
Another panorama – click for full-size.
Finally, at 1:55 in my self-imposed 2 hour trek, I popped out into another grassy area. As of spring 2015, there’s no discernible trail, just an arrow pointing sort of up and left. Do you go up this hill?
Or do you go around the top of this ravine?
The answer is around the ravine. If you circle the brushy cliff, you’ll find another arrow and the start of another forest trail. Hope that helps someone some day!
(A better trail description can be found here, written by a real ultrarunner, but there’s really not a lot online about this trail. It’s a secret, shhh!)
I fed Dixie an apple, then mounted up for the return trip. I had a new full sheepskin to try out and it was heavenly — thanks Angie! I’d brought Dixie’s bridle, strapped to the saddle, but I ended up riding the whole way back with just a rope halter.
I got off and ran, painfully, a few times, but most of the trip I stayed mounted and forced the horse to earn her keep.
We found a snake on a hill.
On the way back, the few remaining cattle were closer to the fenceline.
Near the trailhead, you go past a Christmas tree farm. We were trotting briskly along, with me singing rap lyrics at the top of my lungs, when a turkey gobbled inside the fence and Dixie stopped dead.
She used to be such a bad spooker, y’all. And she was just in that rope halter, and all she did was stop dead. So proud of that horse. (But ow, my poor neck!)
I figured I might as well get off, since I could almost see the end of the trail. I got a crappy video of the turkey, then marched on to the gate.
Turkey in the Christmas tree farm from Funder on Vimeo.
Behind me, Dixie stopped to rip up some vegetation. Horrified, I spun around, already knowing what I’d see.
Yes. Yes, that’s a tremendous branch of poison oak dangling from my horse’s mouth like a magic wand of suffering. Accio rash!
I mean, I’d already gotten hit in the face once, but still. When Dixie rubbed her face against mine as I loaded her, I almost screamed. Thank god for Technu Extreme.
What a shitty run. So what went wrong?
I was drinking Tailwind, but it really seemed to be doing me right. It’s extremely easy to drink – barely sweet, no artificial sweeteners, and my body really liked the amount of electrolytes in it. I think I like it. I can’t blame it (or my food/drink in general that day.)
I was wearing my new Altras, the heinously pink Superior 1.5s, but they feel a lot like the almost-as-new Lone Peaks, and I don’t have that many miles in either shoe, honestly.
The trail was harder than my running level, but not by much? I just don’t think I can blame anything but myself. I did maybe five miles with 1200′ of climbing,* compared to last week’s quite successful 6 miles with slightly less climbing. I don’t know, dude. Sometimes everything sucks and you just have to put your head down and slog it out.
Really hope Tuesday’s run is better.
*The GPS also quit trying in the middle of the outbound run. I reset it for the ride back, but the elevation gain on the outbound leg is higher than on the return trip — my turnaround point was maybe 150′ higher than the trailhead.