Ambrose and I drove out to Sheep Creek past Twin Springs, ID for a training hike early on a Saturday morning. We left before the sun rose, so I got some pictures of the light rising in the east.
The dam was looking decently full. Not a lot coming out of the spillway, but the water level was right up there.
I continued to take pictures as the sun rose over the distant ridges.
Just past the main part of Twin Springs (population 2). There were more tents pitched on the other side of the “town” than I’d ever seen before. Also, 4 speed bumps now instead of 3 and a porta potty.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures on the training hike, because I was trying to go fast (kinda). But I got one, with a bit of artistic blurring from the fact that I was carrying my phone in a plastic baggie.
My plan was to run up to the peak at 6125 feet. Round trip of about 9.5 miles with a gain of 2800 feet. I could at least jog that, right? And Ambrose would take his time and hike up and I’d be waiting for him at the car, taking a nap before driving us both back.
Well. That was the plan.
I did start out jogging. And though my legs felt leaden, I made it up the first little bit of switchbacks to where the trail starts following Sheep Creek. From there, the trail just rolled a bit, and I tried to pick up the pace. Not that I was going fast, but I wasn’t walking.
I had to slow down where the trail got really rocky, especially descending down to the bridge over Sheep Creek. That’s just a whole bunch of ankle rolling rocks, and I did not want to risk another sprain, so I took my time.
On the other side of the creek is where things get radical. There’s a bit of a climb, then a stream crossing, then a bit more climb to a meadow. Then the trail starts going basically straight up for a mile and a half.
I stopped even trying to run before I hit the meadow. That was okay though. I was still moving. I could just walk up the trail without using my trekking poles which would be excellent training.
I typically hike with trekking poles, and as my upper body has gotten stronger, I’ve come to rely on them. I can feel how I work my lats a bit, especially when climbing. And there’s some grip to it. But mostly they relieve pressure on the feet.
The trekking poles were in my pack, because the trail is so steep that I wanted to be able to use them for balance on the way down. So every step I took without them, I knew I could just stop and get them. They were right there, a weight on my back.
About halfway up that section, I gave up on the “no stopping” goal and pretty much collapsed onto the ground. It was nice, soft dirt. I started in on the snack I had packed, a sliced apple and a peanut butter sandwich. With some fuel in me, I was able to make it about another quarter of the way through that section. I stopped and ate some more apple slices.
Then I forced my inexplicably weary body up to the end of that torturous section and gave myself a rest. I finished my food and mentally kicked myself for not packing more things to eat. I was trying to lose weight so I would have less body weight to haul around obstacles during the Spartan Race, but my experiment was just that – an experiment. And I did not have the correct solution that day.
I had a choice there. I could just turn back. Be done for the day. It was still a good hike, nearly 3 miles. Most of the uphill was done.
But that wasn’t what I was there for. I was there to finish. Just like I’d be there to finish for the Spartan Race. I wasn’t going to quit. Even though I was out of food and had hit the wall…
I kept going. I went slow. I didn’t run, even when I hit flat spots. I took breaks when I needed to. I focused and made my way up to the peak. Then I turned right around to the nearest shade tree and got horizontal in the dirt for a good rest.
I also pulled my trekking poles out.
And then I made my way back, all the while waiting to catch sight of Ambrose making his way up. I thought he’d catch me higher than last time, but I caught no glimpses of him as I made my way down. I wanted to see him both to know he was doing okay and to steal some food from him, because I was totally running on fumes by that point.
But I kept going down, into the steep, hard section, with no sign.
It wasn’t until nearly the bottom of the steep area that I saw him ahead. I caught up to him near the meadow and promised to meet him at the stream crossing so we could both get some water. I was energized enough by seeing him that I didn’t ask for food right away.
Ambrose had gotten dizzy climbing up past the scar formation and decided to turn back for safety’s sake. More sensible, really, than what I had done. I got us watered up and stole a fruit smash from his pack. Then we headed back to the car.
I went ahead, and didn’t take the trail to its new trailhead. I cut over cross country to the car when the trail decided to start climbing again, because I had just had enough.
At the car, I went down to the river to rinse off and then arranged myself on a sleeping pad on a tarp next to the car while I waited for Ambrose. I was hoping to tell him to just cut over to the car, but he ended up going to the new trailhead and then walking back by the road.
It was a good reminder to me to always pack a bit more food than I think I’ll need. I’ve bounced back and forth on that stricture, sometimes wildly overpacking and then underpacking. But even on a day hike, I should have been carrying some “emergency” food.