Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Tale of Two Runs Part 2

The second run was also a much needed run, but for different reasons.  After I had told my friends Misty, Debbie, and Jeremy about the Teton run, they wanted to go.  So we planned a small group run there for two weeks later.  The plan was to drive up Friday afternoon, sleep in the truck at the trailhead and hit the trail early Saturday morning, then drive back home Saturday night.
This looked like fun.  I’d get to hit the trails with some of my favorite people, enjoying it together.  Well, as the days progressed, the weather forecast deteriorated.  It was to the point where there were predictions of 1”-3” of snow above 10000’.  Yeah, I didn’t want to do that at all, and neither did anyone else.  So Thursday, Jeremy suggested that we head south and west to run the Ruby Mountains in Nevada.  I was all over that because running there has been on my running bucket list as well, probably for longer than the Tetons.
The Ruby Mountains are in east central Nevada, just south of Elko.  The mountains are part of the Ruby Crest Wilderness Area and there is a 34 mile north to south trail that traverses the length
We all agreed to do that run instead and went with the same plan, drive out to the trailhead Friday afternoon, sleep at the trailhead and hit it the next morning.
Thinking the weather would be much better, we were pretty shocked to get hit by a thunderstorm driving across the west Utah desert.  It rained so hard we had to slow down and pull over to the side of the freeway.  Wow!  Haven’t seen rain that hard in a very long time.  Eventually, it quit and we had calm for the rest of the way.  The forecast was calling for the skies to clear by Saturday morning.
We got to the trailhead just after dark, and apparently we weren’t the only ones with the same idea as there were quite a few cars in the lot, some with people in them, some empty.
The ladies crashed in the back of the truck while us guys slept on the ground. 
The girls slept well, us, not so much
The skies cleared some, and with no moon or city lights around, the stars were spectacular.  I went to sleep just staring at the sky.  I woke about 2am and realized I was getting wet.  It must have sprinkled some and the water soaked thru my bag, so into the cab of the truck I went.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well after that.
Once daylight hit, we got up and got ready.  It was kind of a dreary, cloudy morning. 
Kind of a dreary start
Temp about 45, clouds at about 9500’ (we were at 8700”).  We knew we would be in the clouds during part of our run, we just didn’t know for how far or long.
I'm the one in safety orange
Even with the clouds, the scenery was breathtaking, huge trees, numerous lakes, huge cliffs.  After about 2 miles, we were definitely in the clouds and could see very little in the way of scenery.  Every once in a while they would thin and we could get a small glimpse of what lie out there.
Pretty obvious
We climbed pretty steadily for the first 3.5 miles, dropped down a bit, then made our way above treeline on the next climb. 
Now the conditions got somewhat bad.  Steady wind at about 20-30 mph and colder, wind chill definitely in the 30’s, not to mention that we had no idea of where we were going.  We could see the trail just fine, but that was it.  No scenery, nothing. 
Trying to find something to take a picture of
Couldn’t see more than about 100 yards at most.  Thank goodness it wasn’t raining.  We would have probably turned around had that started.  We did come across the occasional backpacker and to a person they all looked a bit miserable.  Chatting with a few we found out that the previous couple of nights on the trail had been epically bad weather.
Entering the wilderness area
Storms, rain, snow, hail, lightening.  Yeah, none of them were real happy.
So as we’re going along these ridges, the sun keeps trying to poke out.  It would get lighter, we could see faint shadows.  Finally a bit of blue sky poked thru and within about 15 minutes we had full sunshine.
Clearing off
The clouds just blew away.  The scenery that unfolded around and beneath us blew us away.  Huge mountains, some with snow still on them, huge glaciated valleys sweeping down to the desert floor, ranches 6000’ below.

Our original plan was to do an out and back, going to Overland Lake, about 18.8 miles out.  We decided to cut it a bit short and make the turnaround at 15 miles. 
Prayer flags?
Right at 15 miles, we found the perfect place to stop, eat, enjoy the views, warm up in the sun a bit and just enjoy where we were.

Eventually, we decided to begin the trek back, but now with the clouds not in our way and the wind dying down, we could really marvel at what we saw.  And marvel we did. 
There were certain sections of the trail that we had been on in the morning and in the clouds that were now clear and were totally different than what I expected.  We saw crystal clear high alpine lakes, towering cliffs and peaks, wide open meadows.  Who knew that something like this existed in east central Nevada.  What a hidden gem.

Lamoille Lake

Liberty Lake
The run back took about the same amount of time, but it felt faster.  We did finally have to fill up on water.  We just dipped out of Liberty Lake, one of the clearest lakes I have seen in a long time.  We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, heard and saw lots of birds, including hummingbirds, saw one mountain goat, a good sized buck.
The end is near
We finally got back to the trailhead, well before dark and cleaned up a bit before heading out.  We did stop in Elko for dinner and then made the long drive home.
A last look 
So why was this run much needed?  I got a chance to run with a few close friends.  We got to share a run in a phenomenal part of the country, share a bit of adversity, shared a lot of jokes and good times, and did some bonding while doing something we all love.

When you do a couple of runs like I did, epic, beautiful, difficult, fulfilling, then come back to civilization, the job seems a bit mundane.  I have that urge to get out and do something like that again, either with friends or by myself.  Doing stuff like that just makes you feel much more alive, connected with yourself and nature.  We’re out there doing things and seeing things that very few people will ever get to see or do.  There’s something magical about that and I look forward to the next running adventure I have.

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