Monday, May 7, 2018

Adventure! It's the 10 Trail Commandments

Based on our experience yesterday running in Golden Gate Canyon Park outside of Golden, CO, I present my 10 trail commandments:

1. Follow your training plan.
Whiting and I are both racing the Leadville Trail Marathon in June. After that, she'll continue training for Boulder 70.3, and I'll continue training for the Silver Rush 50 mile trail run in Leadville (wow that's a big and scary thing to put in writing). So, our training plans are different: she was instructed to run 2.5 hours and I needed to get in 4.5 hours yesterday.

Using the Trail Run Project app, we chose Golden Gate Canyon Park for its altitude and lack of rattlesnakes. I arrived at 7:15 to get as much running in as possible before Whiting arrived at 9.

Early morning solo hiking felt strangely empowering and I couldn't wipe the smile from my face the entire time.
I hiked to this beautiful meadow and then ran back down to meet Whiting.
2. Dress in layers. 
I think the rule is that the temperature drops 10 degrees for every 1000 feet of elevation gain? It was a balmy 50 degrees when I left Lakewood. When I arrived at the park at ~8000 feet, it was 35 degrees! So I started my hike in a jacket, which I immediately shed after half a mile because it gets hot hiking uphill in the sun.

Is that a white North Face jacket? (No, it's Patagonia.) It folds well to stuff into your pack when you don't need it anymore.
We hiked to 9500 feet and as we went up, so did the snow!
3. Plan to spend the majority of your day in a place that's out of service for phones. 
There was no way for me to know that Whiting was going to be a few minutes late, because I never received her text message. That wasn't a big deal. But when we got a little bit lost after a couple of hours, we couldn't access the internet to look at a map. Luckily Whiting had downloaded the trail map and was able to find us.

By noon we had hiked nearly 6 miles of a 13 mile loop and we were NOT going to make it to our strength class at 2! As we hiked higher up, we were able to get a little bit of reception, which allowed us to text folks to let them know we'd be waaaaaay later than expected.

4. Stop to enjoy the scenery. 
Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now. But also, stop to enjoy it because if you look around while running, you'll likely trip and fall down.

Our reward 6 miles in was Panorama Point.

5. Keep a positive attitude. 
Those people who ran by looking fresh and happy just walked onto the trail from the parking lot that we passed. We hiked all the way here! Yes, our feet and legs and backs hurt, and we're out here hours longer than we expected. But we're hiking on a mountain, through snow and technical rocks and altitude, and we're crushing it! Look how awesome this is!!
But also there was some sitting down.
6. Bring food and water to last the whole day. 
Once we realized we had at least 2 extra hours to go to get back to the cars, we stopped and took inventory of our remaining food. Then we started rationing gels. In the future we'll bring solid food and a lot of it! And, I didn't realize until I was cleaning up my gear last night that I'd consumed every drop of water in my pack.

7. Save the hardest trail for last, when you're tired. 
We tried a shortcut to get back to the car a little faster. The Black Bear trail was marked as "most difficult" on the map. That's not the greatest idea when you're tired and having a hard time picking up your feet. It took us 30 minutes to hike each mile of the Black Bear trail. However, it was a great excuse to not run much for the last 3 miles!
"Curse you, Black Bear." - Whiting Leary
8. Sing! 
Always end a day of hiking that went 2-3 hours longer than it was supposed to singing showtunes from Hamilton. When Whiting's singing Alexander's part and I'm Aaron Burr, sir, it makes that last long mile so much easier. In our case, we were so tired, giggly, and delirious that we continued singing even when encountering other hikers at the bottom of the trailhead, without a care in the world except for getting to food!

9. Have recovery food in your car. 
Otherwise you'll end up speeding to the closest burger place and binging on gigantic food and milkshakes. We deserved the delicious meal from Bob's Atomic Burgers in Golden, though.

10. Plan the next one in advance. 
We can't wait for next weekend. Trail running is literally the best!

*Of course I borrowed the entire theme of this post from Lin-Manuel Miranda's "10 Duel Commandments" from Hamilton. It only seemed right based on the amount of singing from that musical that we did in the mountains yesterday!