|The crew starting day 6|
|Robert and I at sunrise|
|Early morning stop|
|Early morning beauty with one of the 14ers in the distance|
|Poles were awesome for getting over trees|
|Enjoying breakfast burritos!|
|Bill Dooper's contagious smile|
|Getting ready to leave|
|Leaving Clear Creek|
Robert was now switching places with his wife Sylvia. The three of us (Harsha, Sylvia, and myself) started the short climb out of Clear Creek onto some flatter stuff for the next 10 myles. I remember this section being very exposed and hotter than normal. My two bottles of Key Lime Pie might not be enough to get me to Twin Lakes. Having new people at my side is always refreshing. I always get a sense of not wanting to let them down by going too slow. Needless to say, our pace quickens on the flat portions of the trail. With the good spirits all around, Harsha broke out his music playing device. Prior to coming out Harsha had promised to learn a couple of songs from my favorite band (Godsmack) and sing out loud to pass the time. Sully Erna started belting out songs from his album Avalon but Harsha was not singing... I think he was a little embarrassed because he didn't know Sylvia all that well. To his credit, he said he tried to learn the songs but could not understand a word of this "angry music"... I was really looking forward to Harsha serenading me but just didn't happen. Music is my escape during longs runs and with someone by my side for the entire trip so far, I hadn't put my headphones on yet. So hearing Sully Erna brought out a bunch of emotion and new energy. The energy that had slowly been wearing off since leaving Clear Creek was back again as we descended into the South side of Twin Lakes. This new energy and downward trend towards Twin Lakes helped pick up the pace and before long we were crossing the dam across lower Twin Lakes.
|Running the flatter stuff with Sylvia|
|Leaving Lakeview (Twin Lakes) with Harsha|
Leaving with Harsha, I decided to put on my headphones for the next segment over to Half Moon road. I kinda felt bad for not being social but I needed to zone out with my angry music. The food from the stop didn't put me in any food comas, in fact, it revitalized me immediately. This roller coaster of energy would come and go pretty quick, usually hour long spurts. The music, familiar flat single track, and the food all came together to create another one of those amazing running spurts I had experienced a couple days ago around Sargent's Mesa. I was running everything. Harsha led me out and kept looking back to check on me and each time he did I took it up a notch. By the time we had reached the final descent leading into Half Moon road we were putting down mid 8 to 9 minute myles. I was amped up coming into Half Moon/Mt Massive trail head. I acted like it was race and I needed to get out quick. Well, for all intents and purposes, this was a race but I was racing a ghost, Paul Pomeroy's ghost. I downed a Coke (or two), ate more food, refilled my bottles and we were on our way to the Fish Hatchery.
Listening to 'angry' music, blowing my nose and (apparently) wiping my boogers on trees while tripping over rocks.
|Mount Massive TH|
|Just another cool picture|
|Harsha having a little fun with a selfie|
|Calling my boys|
For the next couple of hours I felt guilty for being out there. At this point, the only thing I had control over was to get home as quickly as possible. But as darkness consumed us, so did fatigue. I had been eating and drinking well all day and had enough calories on me to last a couple days. Even so, every time I left an aid station, Nicole or Rick would hand an Ensure to whomever was pacing me. I always refused it and they ended up carrying it. Well Harsha was persistent, he kept asking so I finally told him he might as well drink it cause I wasn't going to.... It wasn't until it got dark that I all of a sudden wanted the Ensure.... I turned to Harsha to get it and he said, "you told me you didn't want it, so I drank half of it. You still want it?". Can you blame him? I mean, he was carrying that thing for 8+ hours. It was these little things that agitated me when I had no right. Obviously this was an emotional day for me and it just showed that the trail was stripping me down to the core. As previously mentioned, the darkness has a way of making the trail go on forever which further got me agitated. Harsha later told me that he couldn't believe how positive I was all day long. At one point we started talking about sleep and apparently I said "Yeah sleep would be nice but people who get records make scarifies.... I can't afford to sleep in". It's amazing that what I was saying was not always what I was thinking.
I kept thinking that Power Line road was just around the next bend and the next... Some 45 minutes later we arrived at Power Line road and then I knew for sure the Timberline trail head was just a few myles away. Finally we crossed a bridge that popped us out to the parking lot. The Kunz', my parents, and Rick were all there to greet Harsha and I. (Thank you Kunz' for your amazing support the last couple of days. They are now headed to their intended event... or so I thought.) It had been a long emotional day but now I was a little over 150 myles from the finish and the light at the end of the tunnel started to sparkle.
I was quickly whisked away to the RV at a nearby campsite. Food and Ultragen were ready when I arrived so I quickly put them down the hatch and got horizontal. Just as I did Rick and my wife told me I had to ice my shins. The thought of dipping my lower legs into freezing water created a bunch of anxiety and phantom pains shot through my already freezing body. "NO WAY!" I said. I couldn't brace myself enough mentally to handle it. But they wouldn't let it rest so I gave in and bit the bullet. "HOLY SHIT!" (and probably hundreds of other expletives) Pins and needles were shooting through my legs as they timed me for what seemed like an hour. Probably only a minute or so but every second was agonizing. I hadn't had any problems with my shins up to this point -and wanted to keep it that way- so that's why I finally agreed.
Finally horizontal around 11:45 but an hour later I was still wide awake. I was thinking about the finish and every so often I'd find myself getting emotional at the thought. This FKT was within my reach but it was nip and tuck according to the numbers. I only had 6 hours of down time while averaging 3 MPH on the trail ahead for the record. I needed to get back on the trail early and put as much banked time before 5 AM as possible. And because of all this mental stimulation, I really didn't sleep a wink all night and was up before my 3 AM alarm - laser focused and teeth clinched. Let's get this done!
Myles: 53.6 (328.9)
Time: 17h (100h 19m)
Elevation: 11,082 (63,844)
Myles to go: 156.9