Sunday, August 9, 2009
Plain (Pain) Loop 1 Training Run
Thursday August 6th Steve Stoyles, Jenny Appel, Rob "Rattler" Hester, and I headed out to set up camp in Plain WA for a run covering the 56 mile loop 1 section of the Plain 100 course. The readers digest description of this section is two 5000 foot climbs with many sections of trail with fine powder dust that squeaks as it compresses under foot and billows up hanging to choke the runner behind you. The weather was cool in the morning and never seemed to get much over 80 degrees.
Plain 100 Mile Endurance Run has been my targeted long distance race of the year. I ran loop 2 as a night run with Steve, Rattler, & Joe about a month ago and it kicked my butt. I ran 33 miles of loop 1 for reasons I will explain latter and that kicked my butt. To combine these two arse kickers for 34 hours of arse kicking running, power hiking, stumbling, and crawling seems almost unimaginable. My only motivation is that I didn't start either of the runs with a "hundred mile attitude".
Fortunately the Fox Creek crossing is only about a mile from a small National Forest Service campground called Lake Creek. I opted to stay back with Jenny and our "A" plan was for Rattler and Steve to complete the loop then drive back to rescue Jenny and I. Jenny and I both carried space blankets, lightweight jackets, long sleeve shirts, and enough food to get us through the estimated 14 hours we would need to wait. We had no cell phone service but that was not surprising in the box canyon we were in.
When Jenny and I hiked over the campground she sat at a picnic table and I set off to talk to some campers and find out if there was a Ranger or someone we could talk to to see if we could get back to our campground in Plain. I met a very nice couple that explained the Rangers for the area were in a campground about two miles North at Silver Falls Campground. I set out up the road and ran to the Guard Station at Silver Falls. That's where I met the husband and wife team Steve and Donna. I explained our plight and unfortunately due to the time of day and no phone service about the only thing they could do for us regarding communication was to call an ambulance. Since Jenny had only strained her ankle an ambulance was totally out of the question. I went back to the Lake Creek Campground and Jenny and I took an inventory of our food and supplies. While we were doing that Rangers Steve and Donna showed up to check on us. Turns out they were both ultra runners from Arizona. They were concerned that the temperatures were going to dip down into the mid forties that evening and offered to let us sleep in the back of their personal vehicle which was a Chevy Tahoe. The cabin they lived in was much too small for guests. Given the option of shivering through the night on a picnic table or having an air mattress and blankets in a shelter we took them up on the offer. Little did we know that along with sleeping quarters came a wonderful tortellini dinner and beer! We were entertained by stories of running and rangering until about 10:00 PM when we crashed.
Long story short Rattler and Steve made the climb up Signal Peak and then in an effort to get to Jenny and I sooner decided to try a shortcut on the Jimmy Creek Trail. Like most shortcuts the decision turned out to be a disaster with them missing the trail and ending up on a dead end butte that involved a bunch of climbing before back tracking to find the trail they had passed. The found the trail but it has been used so little that it was difficult to follow and had over 30 large trees fallen over it to climb over. Hindsight both Rattler and Steve felt it would have been better to just stay on the main trail. It took them 10 hours to get back to our camp at about 1:30AM. The showered then threw sleeping bags in the SUV and headed out the 80+ miles to get us. With a stop for gas and some sodas they arrived in the Lake Creek Campground area around 4:00 AM.
I set out at 4:00 AM from Silver Falls Campground to meet up with Rattler and Steve. We found each other about 4:25 AM at the bridge crossing to the campground. We went up and picked up Jenny and headed back to break camp in Plain and have breakfast in Leavenworth. It was a long night for everybody. It was an adventure within the adventure.
Many many thanks to Steve and Donna for your help and hospitality! You too Steve and Rob!