I ran to Doyle Saddle and back, starting at the Schultz Creek TH, this morning. I logged about 22 miles and 3,800 feet of elevation gain and earned every step.
My mind was psyched to do it, as I have been watching the snow on The Peaks melt ever so slowly all spring. Then, last week it seemed that the snow had melted out enough to allow for a run up to Doyle Saddle...until it snowed yesterday.
Well, I figured that I couldn't wait anymore and, snow or no snow, I was going to see how high I could get. If I had to turn around some where lower then that would be fine. I just figured that it would be a great run and I'd get to check out the new snow up high.
I started up Schultz Creek Trail at 6 am and immediately noticed that I didn't have a lot of pep in my step. My mind was psyched to get to the high country but my body didn't seem quite as interested. By the time I reached the junction with the Weatherford Trail and the remaining 6 or so miles to Doyle Saddle, I was considering heading off in another direction. I was dragging just a bit more than I would have liked. Usually, I am warmed up nicely at the top of Schultz Creek Trail but today I just felt like walking...not a good sign.
My mind won out and it's psych continued to carry me, ever so slowly, up the Weatherford. I knew it would be hard to run up the Weatherford (it always is) as it is pretty steep and has a ton of loose rocks on it to pick through. Today, it was extra hard. A little after reaching the '4 miles to go to Doyle Saddle sign' I was starting to hike sections. I just didn't have any gas today. It didn't help that there were a TON of down trees to crawl through and a lot of snow and drifts to slow the pace.
Luckily, it was beautiful out, not a cloud in the sky, so I figured that I would just walk if I needed to walk and run when I could. I had the time to be slow if that was the way it was going to be. Despite my mind starting to want to turn around at times, I kept on to the saddle and tried to think about the beautiful place I was moving through instead of my weak little legs.
(Nice views up toward Doyle Saddle from part way up the Weatherford Trail.)
(Blue Bird day looking back toward the Dry Lake Hills and Flagstaff from part way up the Weatherford Trail.)
I did finally make it to the saddle but it was SLOW. I probably hiked 90% of the last 3 miles. I just couldn't bring myself to run with the weak legs and trail conditions. I was greeted with spectacular views of the different peaks and the forest and desert below. It was a struggle but once I was on the saddle it was all worth it.
(At Doyle Saddle with Humphrey's Peak behind my head.)
While on the saddle, clouds formed quickly, and curled up and over Mt. Humphrey's. I stayed on the saddle for about 5 minutes to soak it all in and then left with hast to stay ahead of what ever bad weather looked like it was coming my way.
(Forming clouds over Humphrey's Peak.)
Half way down the Weatherford Trail I started to feel better and got a good pace going. I was starting to realize that I probably felt like crap on the way up because of a mix of running something steep and long only 6 days after R2R2R, I was running at a higher elevation than I had so far in 2011 and the trail conditions up high were pretty bad.
To add to my improving mental and physical conditions, it started snowing and it was pretty magical to run in. I think this did a lot to improve my mood and energy levels beyond running down hill on the the easier and lower elevation trails.
(Looking back up, from Sunset Trailhead, at where I just was on The Peaks. That view was pure blue skies a couple hours ago...)
The rest of the run down Schultz Creek Trail was just pure fun. I kept a pretty good pace going but not too hard. Just hard enough to cruise and still feel good.
The snow was still falling and I just tried to soak it all in. It was a really satisfying way to finish such a tough run. To start out wanting to turn around a bunch of times and then make it to the saddle and then start feeling great and just cruise in a surprise winter wonderland...just awesome.
(Snow sticking to the Schultz Trail in May!)
Monday: 3 miles (errand) + 7.5 miles (exploring mountain bike trails that I haven't been on in the Dry Lake Hills. I found a couple that are just awesome and link nicely to other trails I like.)
Tuesday: 22 miles (Schultz Creek TH to Doyle Saddle and back in 5:05. First trip to Doyle Saddle in 2011...but maybe I'll wait a while before going up again as the snow and down trees are a bit much for me right now to have fun up there.)