I know. It's shocking. But after 11 years of cycling, I've taken up running. Well, I'm not sure you can REALLY call what I'm doing RUNNING...maybe walking fast...or "locomoting more than leisurely..." But, whatever the correct term, this summer I'm training with Kim and Ann to do the Tioga Pass Run.
We started running three times a week just after July 4th, and have now increased to four times a week with a long run on Sundays. This Sunday was the first, and we ran to Barney Lake (Ann couldn't go, though, because she hurt her knee, so April was her stand-in). Barney is in the Hoover Wilderness, which borders Yosemite National Park, and begins at Mono Village (13 miles out of Bridgeport). The trail is maintained by the Forest Service (they do a fabulous job!), and starts out with 2 gradual uphill miles that abruptly turn into a final 2 miles of steep switchbacks that bring you to the lake. But, that means that you get to run downhill all the way back...fast, furious, and, well, for a klutz like me, just plain treacherous.
This is April and Kim near the beginning of the run trying to entice me to run faster by flashing a...peace sign?...Really?...A breakfast burrito and a grande cafe mocha would have worked MUCH better.
The trailhead is in a campground at Mono Village, and initially, the trail is in pretty thick trees. It eventually opens up into this meadow that can get pretty darned hot in the afternoon. We headed out early in the morning, though, so it was nice and cool, and even rained a little here and there.
Here, I think April was whispering to me: "Ok, bee-ahh-tch, I can see you want to wimp out and head back, but I got up at the butt-crack-of-dawn to do this because you begged me to, and I'm not about to let you turn back now..."
This was a common sight for me, seeing Kim and April disappear into the distance. I feigned holding back because I was the "photographer," but the reality is that I'm just pathetically slow. Well, and 10 years older than them. Ok, 10 years older than Kim....well, maybe 8. Dammit, I'm just slow.
The foliage gets pretty thick in a lot of places, perhaps more so this year due to the heavy winter snowpack. It was downright gorgeous, though the lack of visibility also made it easy for April and Kim to ditch my slow ass.
This was one of the views off to the south.
There was water running alongside -- and sometimes right on -- the trail in many places. Love the sound of running water...helps block out the sound of me desperately gasping for air.
The 2 miles of switchbacks to the top offer a special kind of painful fun.
Paused for more proof that we did the run somewhere along the switchbacks...I got a little delirious and can't remember where this was. But I do think that Kim might be whispering in April's ear, "See! I told you Kathie's the slowest runner EVER!"
Still somewhere on the switchbacks...Kim was either taking a drink from her Camelback, or singing Karaoke.
And finally....having left our cars just about an hour before, we made it to Barney!!! And we're all still smiling....amazing how fun suffering can be!
I think Kim was whispering to April here: "See? I told you Kathie would barely make it up here. If she goes as slow going down, we'll have plenty of time to have breakfast at Mono Village before she shows up."
Right after Kim took this pic, I pushed April into the lake so I could get a headstart...Dammit if they both didn't still kick my ass going back down!
Kodak moments at Barney captured for all eternity, we turned back for the 4-mile rapid descent. Is is just me, or was April skipping?....We actually didn't see Kim for long, as she took off like a rocket. At one point once back in the meadow, we hollered for her, and she only stopped because she thought one of us was getting eaten by a bear.
Ahhhh...finally made it back to the trailhead, with just a hop-skip-and-a-jump to get to the cars at Mono Village.
Eight miles of rugged-but-well-groomed trail, gorgeous views all around, laughing (while gasping desperately for air) with good friends, saving myself from numerous face-plants, and completing my longest run EVER...