TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Las Ramblas

So, I relapsed and got sick again for the one remaining week of my winter break. Vacations and me are not friends. Now, I’m finally, slowly but surely getting well after a week back at work. It was difficult going back, a bottle of liquid medicine in my bag, and eye drops in my purse to get rid of the bloodshot. Ugh. And now, I have a sore throat again, and also an earache (doh!), and I will likely relapse again – because I am stupid that way. Proving this point, I threwIMG_0562 caution to the wind and hit some trails in between jobs this past Thursday – Las Ramblas, Cerro Rebal, Forster Canyon and Patriot Trails out to the flag and back. The Las Ramblas trailhead, I should mention, is ideal because it is quite easy to get to, as it’s right off Interstate 5 in Dana Point. They also aren’t very tough  trails at all. I would characterize them as nice and easy.

The “Las Ramblas” trails (as I call them) are mostly truck trail width, and overlook the cities of San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, and Dana Point. I can see the Pacific Ocean, the harbor, the San Juan Capistrano Mission, and Interstate 5 in all its glory. There are gorgeous views. But IMG_0567they are views from trails with no trees to speak of. This last fact is what makes these some of my least favorite trails. I really must have trees! Still, it was good to have dirt beneath my feet once again. I will probably be back to this very same location again, one day soon.

4.13 miles total (an out-and-back to the flag on Patriots Trail).

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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Wood Canyon My Old Friend

I’m back to watching movies, off my phone while on the elliptical or cycle, at the gym. I haven’t watched movies or any kind of series in a long while. Well, actually, my little movie binge this time around started around Christmas time, and it wasn’t at the gym -- first with Whiplash, a movie from my living room couch that wound me up so much, I had to leave the room during one scene because the pressure just got to be too much. Pretty good movie; thought about it for days, analyzed it with my middle son who watched it with me because it is about music (and he will watch just about any movie that relates to music). After that, I re-watched (for at least the 5th time) Punk Drunk Love. It was too sad for me this time around, which means I’ll finally put that quirky movie to rest and watch it no longer. And then came the gym movies -- a couple days ago, I caught another Adam Sandler movie, this one, The Cobbler. The movie was mildly entertaining, it could have been much more. I am a little let down by movies like this where everything gets tied together so neatly at the end. But then, tonight I took in another movie at the gym -- Super, where things didn’t get tied together so neatly. Ummm. Wow. Hard to say just a word or two about Super. Not even sure that I liked it (though, I think I did). On the bad side was the violence. I turned away no less than three times from the sloppy, yet intense violence. (By the way, they tricked me and didn’t really hit hard with the graphic violence until about half way through the movie.) But there was a real involved story here, with classic themes and a bunch more of those introspective kind of things that we all feel and know about but don’t dally there much, because its depressing. So, I do believe that I give Super a reluctant thumbs up.

In between those movies I hit the trails in Wood Canyon. I certainly don’t need drama when wandering about a trail, even if it’s on a mundane trail that I’ve been over again and again. I chose Wood Canyon because I wanted something with easy access, and something relatively quick and easy. Being that we’re all still on winter break, aka Christmas vacation, at my house, I had plans with my family to have sandwiches at our favorite deli, Board n’ Brew, and a movie at the ritzy Cinepolis. The movie was The Last Jedi, and there isn’t much to tell, except for the reclining seats and waiters who brought food to our seats while we reclined in big chairs with tables and a small lamp at our sides, before aIMG_0499 big movie that I found very little to talk about. So, back to something much more exciting, Wood Canyon. I knew that I needed something more than Wood Canyon, which is lovely in itself. So about a mile in (most likely less), I took a side trail off to the right called Wood Creek Trail.

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Wood Creek trail is single track (my favorite) and runs up above Wood creek, therefore basically parallel to Wood Canyon Trail. It’s rocky. It’s shady. It’s a forest. It’s coastal with chaparral. It has views of Wood Canyon from above, and intimate views of Wood Creek not so far below. It really is so many things in one. There’s mushrooms growing in the wet dark places. And there’s prickly pear out with the chaparral. And then. Before you know it. You are at Wood Canyon again.

View of Wood Canyon from Wood Creek Trail:IMG_0519

More Views from Wood Creek Trail:

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Can you tell that I love Wood Creek Trail? After that, I was ready to take on all of Wood Canyon and its mundaneness. Though, I am too harsh – Wood Canyon really isn’t that mundane. I came upon a majestic Great Blue Heron on the out and the back of my hike. I also came upon each stick on the ground cautiously thinking it could be a snake, but knowing snakes aren’t out this time of year (it’s just natural reflex because of the many, many times I have come up on rattlers on Wood Canyon trail). I also came upon so many other travelers of Wood Canyon on this particular hike. There were lots of cyclists, many hikers, and some runners. It was a beautiful day, a day whose stories interest me much more than a movie (though I do enjoy a movie too!)

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Oh. I almost forgot! 7.08 miles. Smile

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Closing out 2017

I decided to close 2017 with a long out-and-back along Arroyo Trabuco Trail in the Rancho Santa Margarita area. Off of Antonio Parkway in Las Flores, there’s a quiet little park on Oak Tree Road where I parked my truck. From there, I made the trek across Antonio Parkway, and after a tenth of a mile down, I took a bike path that runs behind some of the homes near and about Tijeras Creek Golf Course. After a little more than a tenth of a mile, a bit after the bike trail veers to the right, you’ll find the Tijeras Creek trailhead. I took that down to Arroyo Creek Trail, but not before venturing off on a single track where IIMG_0452 came upon a newly erected tree swing in middle of the wilderness (well, kinda the wilderness). The tree’s branches were decorated with juniper sprigs loosely wrapped with tiny Christmas lights. The lights were battery operated, and after close inspection I could see that the white-yellow lights were still illuminating. So tiny they were, I didn’t notice at first that they were still lit, and I wondered who was it who was out here in the darkness swinging on this tree surrounded by tiny Christmas lights?

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View from the swing:IMG_0447

Arroyo Trabuco Trail was surprisingly empty for a New Year’s Eve day. Not that it was completely void of people, there were plenty of cyclists, and several horseback riders too. But I don’t really recall seeing any other hikers, and only one runner. The weather was lovely – mid sixties. And the creek crossings were all very manageable. I didn’t get my feet wet even once! Even though I was hiking, and not running, I still had a time goal being that we had a big New Year’s Eve dinner at home planned. My husband was doing the main cooking, but I still had the green beans and potatoes to prepare. Thus, I set my goal at 3 miles per hour. At first thought, that may seem relatively easy to achieve – after all, a twenty minute pace will cover that. That’s if you never stop. But I stop to take photos, to listen in, to inspect oddities, not to mention take potty breaks. Stops quickly eat away at that 20 minute pace – stops, in fact, erode your pace faster than you would imagine. Needless to say, I had to really grind the miles out to keep up with my goal. And I found myself a few times running some just to make up the time lost for stopping.

Arroyo Trabuco Trail:IMG_0460IMG_0476IMG_0482IMG_0493

In all, this out-and-back totaled 12.15 miles. Surprisingly, I can still do that. Granted, this was an easy trail to pursue such a length. But pushing it to make my hiking pace – yikes. I felt that back at home for the remainder of the night. A hot bath rejuvenated me. And I managed to see in the new year, plus some. I often don’t make it until midnight on New Year’s, mainly because I don’t much care about the ending of one year and the beginning of another. Or so I claim! I think that I really do care. I care enough to feel a bit of gratitude for being able to see another year roll in. And I care enough to think about who I am as a year comes to an end, not in a gloating sort of way, and not in a self-flagellating sort of way, but in a self-reflective sort of way.

How far have I ventured from who I desire to be? I pondered this question as I closed out 2017. Actually, I have been asking myself this question for many, many months now. The answers just culminated as I closed out 2017. And being that I closed out 2017 by the way, I input the remainder of my workouts on the eve of this new year into my Access database. After importing the database into Excel (I can find the answers to my questions much easier in Excel than Access), I jotted down various totals (running, elliptical, calories, elevation etc.) to include in this Closing Out 2017 blogpost. But then I lost the slip of paper. Frankly, I was too lazy to import the database again (I didn’t save the Excel file because my computer is a mess with hundreds of unnecessary files). Really though, it doesn’t matter, these totals and such. I can be a keeper of records if that somehow soothes me.  But I do not need to be enslaved by them. And that’s what I tend to let record keeping do, I let it be a negative, a downfall. I decided that as I close out 2017 that I can go ahead and relish my downfalls – the record keeping, the self-loathing, the self-debilitating multi-tasking, etc., etc., etc.. I can use these things to push me forward, to help me become the person that I have lost. Not sure exactly how, but I know somewhere in my faults, these things that really way me down, there’s also tools to get me what I want. And what I want is this:

To wander the trails once again for miles and miles and miles at a time,

To write like I used to, pages and pages several times a week,

To read like I used to, to get lost in wonderful stories, and learn about those things that stir wonder within,

To be easily amused (I used to be so easily amused. Not so much anymore).

To not be ashamed of who I am

And lastly, to strive to ALWAYS be honest with myself.

I think that’s about it. That’s not too much to ask of myself is it? It’s notIMG_0497 like these are New Year Resolutions. They are goals. They are my desires. They are extremely difficult, and they are not difficult at all. It all depends on how I chose to approach it. And why not, at the beginning of a new year, state these goals for the record? I think that it’s a good thing I made it past midnight and welcomed in 2018. It helped me flush out a few things.

Happy New Year everyone! I wish for you a successful and self-reflective new year.

My chosen music video to close out 2017:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_9Kf0D5BTs

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Eventually Arrived

Yesterday, I finally felt well enough to venture out for some activity. I opted for the gym. 1 hour on the AMT (Adaptive Motion Trainer) and 1 hour on the cycle. I felt good and refreshed after finally getting some exercise. That was my test run on whether I could handle any strenuous activity. Next step, to hit the trails for a hike, which I did today around 3pm. I am still a somewhat ill, but it’s just really congestion and a slight cough. Starting off slowly (as in a short distance) was definitely my best bet. My route today was West Ridge in Aliso Viejo to Top of the World in Laguna Beach. It’s just a straight shot of rolling hills to the top – lots of people, both on feet and on bikes, plus a few little detours to add a tad bit more elevation. I felt strong the entire trip, granted it was only five miles. I am grateful that starting over doesn’t mean ACTUALLY starting over. Starting over at five miles is good.

Being that I took a ridge route, I didn’t see much wildlife, except for some birds, and a stinkbug or two. The snakes have all gone into hiding, and deer and wild cats are seldom seen up there. I did breathe in a gnat through my nose. That was uncomfortable. Overall though, I felt pretty comfortable for the entire trip. And I’m okay with not running even a single inch of it.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Eventually

IMG_0177Back at the end of November (the 25th to be precise), I took on a 9.68 mile loop in the coastal hills (Newport Coast to be precise). And it was that loop that pretty much solidified that I’m not doing Calico this year. For Calico, I’ve got to basically do to of this loop twice. And that will probably kill me. But I didn’t quite cancel Calico yet.

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It was a beautiful day, off and on overcast, and plenty of cool breezes. But at about mile 7 or so, on a big climb out, I actually took a seat at the side of the trail and rested. RESTED. Oh well, it was all worth while nonetheless – got a little exercise, and I got to clear my mind.

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After that fiasco (though only partially a fiasco), I put in short two mile runs here and there – a couple at the gym on the dreadmill, and a couple down at the harbor. Eventually, I decided to actually cancel my reservations for Calico. And when I did that, I lifted a huge weight of my shoulders. With my work coming to an end for winter recess, I was free to hit the trails stress free. Well, my last class was Wednesday night. Thursday morning, I woke up sick. Yup, that’s how things go. But at least my oldest son is home from college, and we are all together for the holidays. EVENTUALLY, I’m gonna make it out to the trails again. Eventually.

On one of my harbor runs:

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Friday, November 24, 2017

Chimera Behind-The-Scenes 2017

Chimera 100 (one-hundred as in 100 mile & 100k) has come and gone, and I think that I have finally recovered (& I didn’t even run it!). The weekend hit me hard, and I didn’t do the real hard work of putting this thing together -- 76 volunteers did the really hard work (not including all the HAM operators, timing crew and EMTs).

The way an event like this works is this:

The race director gets all the ducks in a row -- purchases insurance, permits, shirts (& other swag), all gear and supplies, and sets up runner registration, creates course, race book, etc., and basically orchestrates the overall picture, and of course, forks over all the cash. Then there’s a HAM coordinator who recruits volunteer licensed radio operators, schedules them at one of the 13 aid stations, does lots of other technical stuff that I am not aware of, and writes up a communication plan. In addition, there is a timing crew, who basically monitors every single runner during the entire race (a lot more technical stuff here too, because remember we are in the mountains with no cell service, there’s no Wifi or cell service, but somehow they manage to create a hotspot). Add to the group, a small EMT staff who has a base down at the Start line, but mainly roams the course. And then finally, there’s my part, the volunteer coordinator. I recruit and schedule the volunteers -- the aid station workers, sweeps and 4wd support, and oversee their time during the duration of the race. This is a huge operation, and I don’t know how the other planners and coordinators feel, but I begin feeling anxious about mid-week before the race. It’s then that I’m zeroing in on gaps in coverage, and trying to fill the last minute cancellations.

IMG_0005It all began Friday night for my family (myself, my husband and 2 of my sons), and actually much earlier for the race director Steve Harvey and his wife Annie. I believe they set up in lower Blue Jay campgrounds around Wednesday. Anyway, I had to teach Friday, and my boys had school, so packing was left all up to my husband (who had job projects to finish as well). We finally headed up the mountain around 4:30 pm, and it was bumper-to-bumper practically the entire way. We set up camp in the dark, and had a fully operational campsite around 7 pm. My youngest son and I spent the remainder of our evening putting bins together for the aid stations.

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IMG_0009Being that this is a 100 mile race, the aid stations need quite a bit of gear. Firstly, every station received a non-food bin which included things like: trash bags, knives, bowls, plates, cups, cutting board, can opener, paper towels, table cloth, toilet paper, first aid kit, sun screen, bug spray and nets, CarboPro, a lighter, stakes, ropes, race details/station instructions, clipboard and pen, etc. Every station also received a second bin that included salty snacks (like potato chips, pretzels, and/or crackers), nuts, candies, cookies, bread, peanut butter, grape jelly, energy shots, raisins and other fruits (bananas, watermelon or grapes). Some of the stations bins also included cheese, tortillas, soups and broth. As a side note, 4 of the aid station captains did their own shopping, so their food differed from the other bins.

Once my youngest son and I completed the bins, we walked back up to camp and settled around the campfire. I went to bed around 10 pm. Through the night, my mattress slowly leaked, and I was pretty dang cold, remembering then why I have “extra blankets” on my camping list. Didn’t pack them because I thought I wouldn’t need them. Ummm, there was a reason they were was on my list.

I was up by 5 am Saturday. The first volunteers had already come and gone -- the parking attendant, arriving at 4:15, and the first aid station, a hike-in water-only station with a two man crew. A volunteer from the first full aid station had also arrived, and we loaded her car with the bins and a table to head down to nearly the bottom of the mountain, the location of the Hot Springs Canyon station (mile 12.5 for the runners).

Runners were off at 6 am with a volunteer sweep taking up the rear. The sweeps’ duties in a nutshell is to make sure that no one gets left out on the trail. They stay behind the DFL (last place runner), and they pull ribbons to unmark the course on the return. A sweeps presence at an aid station indicates it’s safe for the aid station to clear out. But it’s not necessarily always the case. Sometimes runners step off the trail and sweeps run past them. In that case, there’s usually some back-tracking to do. (Every station by the way has a list of all runners, so they know precisely who is missing). 

After all runners were off, we all had some quiet time, non-pressure time to get things situated for the next set of aid stations which would be located up in the remotest parts of the course (miles 47 onward, mainly along The Main Divide). Actually, mile 55 had already been taken care of earlier in the week. One of the volunteers had picked up all the gear at my home because that aid station is located in Trabuco Canyon at the Holy Jim fire station, a great deal away from race headquarters. I worked the Holy Jim aid station for two years at Chimera before I became the volunteer coordinator. It’s a lovely spot to volunteer, and what’s especially nice is that you don’t need to depend on someone else to get you out of the location. Still, it’s a long hard shift.

Aid station locations for the last 50 miles of the course:chimera main divide

7 am, Shift 1 of the 4wd support team arrived. They drove the gear up on the mountain for the first two stations (bins, stoves, Ez ups, tables, water, jugs, fuel, heaters, etc). They also delivered gear to The Candy Store aid station (mile 35 for the runners) which is located out on Highway 74, across the street from The Ortega Oaks Candy Store. The first shift went smoothly. No rush, no issues, just good easy times. Volunteers arrived for those first two aid stations on The Main Divide (Trabuco Trailhead and West Horsethief Aid Stations). I believe those first two stations up on The Main Divide were completely taken care of by the end of the first 4wd shift. By then, the Hot Springs gear had already been returned, and I was pulling things out of their bins to use at the Start/Finish line (a location the runners returned to twice before heading up The Main Divide). The volunteer crew for the Bear Springs station had even arrived, fully self-sufficient with their own 4wd vehicles and much of their own gear and food. I believe we just threw in the Ez Ups, a table, and the non-food bin. And they were off like magic!

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My house:20171118_141409

So, around 3 pm Saturday, I really had no idea what was going on with the runners, because I was focused in on the volunteers and making sure they had everything they needed and were at the aid station location in time to set up. A new shift of drivers had arrived to replace Shift I. While they all worked together driving those furthest aid stations to location (Modjeska Peak and Maple Springs), I went to town (El Cariso, the small mountain town on Hwy 74) to have sandwiches at the general store with my family. Right before this time, I began having some physical issues that I’ll leave out of this blog so as to avoid TMI (Too Much Information). I will say that this issue was taking its toll on me and the night had hardly begun.

After our late lunch/early dinner, we arrived back race headquarters around 5 pm. I learned that the HAM radio operator for the W. Horsethief aid station was a no-show. I guess I take this job too seriously, or too hard, but no radio operator at a station in the mountains stresses me a great deal.  What if there’s an emergency, what if someone is hurt, what if they need anything at all? I had to rationalize with myself: Okay, okay, West Horsethief can get by -- they’re tough right? The next aid station is only 2.5 miles away, and we have 4wd support out there on the mountain and a truck with EMTs making the rounds. It’s going to be okay . . . it’s going to be OKAY.  (Breathe!)

Scene driving back from El Cariso:20171118_171324

But then, and I don’t know when I learned this exactly, but Modjeska Peak aid station was without radio contact as well! Deja Fricken Vu! Modjeska aid station was without communication last year, and I believe, even the year before that. And last year, the volunteers were left out there on the mountain way, way past their time to return. Modjeska is one of Chimera’s most remote stations, and under darkness, it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive. Anxiety build-up big time for me. I kept my anguish inside (because I don’t want to make a scene and all -- besides, who the hell am I? I’m just the volunteer coordinator), but still, I was blown away. We had 5 women manning that station with no radio contact. I don’t mean to sound sexist, but I suppose that I am sexist, but I was extremely uncomfortable with the idea of 5 women out on the mountain by themselves without radio support. Worry really began to dig in and coupled with my physical issues, I began to wear down.

Our volunteers on the other hand, I cannot praise them enough, the drivers especially, delivered what the volunteers needed -- extra lanterns, more fuel, more ice, missing EZ up sides, more sodas, more fruit, dinner for the volunteers. I would get requests via the HAM radio operators that a certain aid station needed something, and worked at making sure that it went up with a truck who was already on their way to do something else (drop off a volunteer, pick up a runner). Last thing I wanted is for a driver to leave camp with just one mission; we needed to double, triple up. When we said good-bye to a driver, we would not be seeing him (or her in 1 case) for another 2 to 3 hours, maybe even more. I carried a list of duties that drivers needed to attend to, and I was also careful to keep track of drivers’ locations and their final destinations, so that we could use them along the way, when and if needed on the mountain. Several of the drivers were also licensed HAMs too, which was an immense help in catching things that were needed along their routes.

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Around midnight, we had only one driver show up for shift 3, and heaven-sent he was, as we sent him out on some long driving. Short on drivers now, I admit, I more than worried.  I had heard that one of the no-show drivers had indeed showed, and he was up on the mountain. But I sat with the HAM coordinator for quite some time, unable to locate this driver via the radio.  So, I supposed that was just mistaken information and we were indeed really low on drivers as I feared.

As I played everything forward in my head, I did not think we would have enough drivers to pick up our sweep on time at the furthest location (Maple Springs). He needed to be back at the Start Line at 7 am. With very few drivers at this point, there was no way that was going to happen. We did have a couple of drivers on standby who had been driving all day. But I had already secured their promise to head out at 3 am to go stay with the ladies at Modjeska Peak until their shift ended. Last thing I wanted was for these young women at Modjeska to be waiting for a ride back without radio contact. Those 2 drivers were taking a sleep break as I contemplated how to handle getting the through-the-dead-of-night sweep picked up on time. I was stumped. Discussing it with the HAM coordinator, he suggested that I end the guy’s sweep early at Bear Springs, that way he’d be closer for 4wd support to retrieve. The crucial part of the sweep (the technical single track) would be over, and the HAM coordinator and timing crew could monitor the rest of the runners on The Main Divide via radio. Okay good! So, before going to bed, I confirmed with the one driver at race headquarters that he leave now and arriving at the destination, pick up the sweep around 2 am, while checking on the well-being of stations along the way. (Turns out, he found a lost runner along the way, which is super cool that he was out there!)

Driver heading out for 2 am sweep pick-up:IMG_0065

1 am, I was so ready to go to bed. There were still these problems, but first I should state that it is EXTREMELY important to me that volunteers get shuttled back to the Start Line at the appropriate time, and that they are comfortable and safe during their stay on the mountain . . . anyway, these were the situations that were weighing on me at around 1am Sunday morning:

  1. A 3:30 am shift change at Trabuco Aid Station (one of the volunteers absolutely had to be back due to personal obligations -- and we had left him at an aid station hours too late on another year!) The way I knew it, with 2 driver no-shows, pick-up at 3:30 am was impossible.

  2. With the drivers we had, and how they were currently being utilized, there was no possible way to have a driver at the furthest location (Maple Springs) by the time their station closed around 5:40 am Sunday.

  3. A 6 am shift change at West Horsethief Aid Station was also not feasible.

  4. And lastly and most importantly, we had reports of a drunk and belligerent driver up on The Main Divide taunting volunteers and pulling down glow sticks that marked the course.

IMG_0057Back at the campfire with my family these things weighed heavily upon my mind. I was cold, I was tired, and I was pretty much miserable. With my coat zipped up past my mouth, I wept beside the campfire. I really didn’t know what to do. I know people will think that I took this too hard, and that I worried too much. And I guess I did worry too much. I have always taken my jobs seriously, whether it's been a paper route in the 5th grade, a waitress gig paid under the table in the 6th grade, putting together a marketing brochure in my late twenties, or teaching students high school Algebra so that they can pass their GED, I want to do it right! I don’t want volunteers to be afraid, or to worry, or to have any bad experience at all. I realize that is impossible to control, but still!

I want to say that my husband was a great help to me with my physical ailments at the time, and my family was very supportive. Though others down at the Start Line knew of my stress, I don’t think they really knew how hard I was taking it. I tried to hide it. I dried up my tears quickly, and came up with a few things.

First, I wrote out a note for the guys driving out to Modjeska Peak to hand to the non-radio contact station Horsthief. The note apologized for not being able to do a shift change as planned. We would be about 1 hour late (a new driving shift would make that possible). Secondly, I asked Net Control to radio Trabuco aid station to inform the shift who would change at 3:30 am, that we would not have a ride at that time. I advised that they get on the truck currently coming down the mountain that would arrive at around 1:30 am. I knew this would be okay, because the aid station (a wonderful volunteer, Whitney, had already mentioned that she could handle the station by herself during those hours because so very few runners would be coming through -- plus she had 2 HAM radio operators with her). I went to bed with a slightly heavy heart knowing that we could be a couple hours late picking up Maple Springs, but feeling much relieved that the Modjeska Peak ladies would have drivers by their side before I woke.

I did get some sleep that morning from 1:15 to about 4:30 am. My boys had pumped up my mattress again, and it had not fully leaked out as I slept. I heard a truck door slam around 4:30 am, so I knew it was time to get out and see what had entailed during my sleep hours.

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I found Steve Harvey walking back to his truck, deliriously tired, for a quick nap. He staggered like a sober zombie. His wife, Annie, was asleep in a chair. The timing crew eyes were bloodshot. The HAM coordinator was down for a little sleep. Three runners had crossed the finish line for the 100 mile race, and several of the 100k runners had finished. The volunteers at Trabuco had taken heed to my message and took the ride out when it came by. I did not know much more at that point, except for the rumor I heard before I went to bed that one of our drivers had shown up and was up on the mountain was indeed true -- and so thankfully, there was one additional 4wd support out there during the graveyard shift as I slept.

At 5 am, the W. Horsethief shift change arrived. And then the 4th shift 4wd support arrived shortly after. We got the volunteers off to Horsethief, and my friend Hank a little bit later off to ITT (Indian Truck Trail) for his sweep portion. About that time, or a little later, things started to unwind to tell me the story of what occurred and how everything worked itself out. (Oh me of little faith!!) Suddenly, things began to look rosier. IMG_0076

To begin, that drunk driver, irate jerk, who was out on The Main Divide, well, he had been taunting the ladies out at Modjeska Peak -- the ladies that I worried about earlier. He even drove circles around their camp, hitting and demolishing one side of the Ez up. When one of our 4wd support, who was also a HAM, arrived and found out what was happening, he elected to stay the night there with them, ignoring the end of his shift and remaining with them until the end, and driving them and their gear back to race headquarters when it was over. Therefore, when the two trucks that I had sent out at 3 am arrived at Modjeska Peak, they saw they were not needed and drove further out to the Maple Springs aid station and provided transport for them. If you recall -- Maple Springs was the aid station that I was fearing would need to wait extra hours for a ride back. That additional driver that I did not know had arrived was busy on the mountain all night long, picking up a lot of the slack, making runs along the mountain all through the early morning hours.

We had one more shift change early Sunday morning, a long time volunteer and her husband went up to Trabuco to help out Whitney who had been “manning” the station alone since about 1:30 am. I have no idea how many runners had crossed the finish line by that time. I really had not been paying attention. I do know that Steve was there to greet each and everyone of them with a medal or buckle. Annie was awake now too, smiling and optimistic and lovely as always. It was time to take off my jacket, get out of my pajama pants and face the day optimistically like the graceful Annie.

With a couple of fresh drivers coming in, things were looking up. I saw Maple Springs and Modjeska Peak come down from the mountain. I heard the tales of the jerk driver, and just how worried they ladies were during his taunting. Next, the self-sufficient Bear Springs aid station returned, with lots of pictures to show of one of the best aid station ever! (They actually had rooms -- a kitchen, a living room/bedroom, etc). From then on out, it was a game of orchestrating drivers to get gear, dropped runners and volunteers at the remaining stations who were at that point still fully operational. Around noon or so, the irate/drunk driver was arrested in Santiago Canyon. Turns out, he crashed his car driving down Maple Springs Road, and two of our HAM radio operators helped him out of a ditch. Then they followed him, with the police eventually on the line.

4wd support:IMG_0084

Aid station volunteers after a night on the mountain (Maple Springs & Modjeska Peak AS):IMG_0082

About 2 pm on Sunday, I told my family that we could leave soon, so they started tearing down camp. I was wiped out. I mean really beaten up, and I truly wondered how I could ever do this again. I am not a good enough writer to relay just how much it tore me up to worrying about the volunteers. It was not fun. Not fun at all. And nothing bad happened, and everyone involved did their jobs perfectly. Still, I stressed.

On the way out, I finally got a taste of the race from the runner’s point of view when I saw a trail running friend coming in for a 100 mile finish. What a glorious sight. I teared up cheering him on – I believe this was his 3rd attempt at a finish, and just a half mile from the finish line it was his! And this is why all those volunteers sacrificed their time and comfort – they did it for him, and all the other starters of Chimera 2017.  I get a little emotional thinking about it. Like all the years before, I am in awe of all the people who did their part in seeing the runners make it to the Finish Line. They are the best! They really are. They are self-less, they are helpful, they are kind, they are optimistic, and they are wonderful. Smile

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