An Athlete's Diary
... And with the second pick in the 2013 Fantasy Football Draft "Treader" selects Marshawn Lynch - Seattle Seahawks. That was Friday night...
Saturday morning with the alarm clock set for 6:40, I was up at first light and no need for alarm. The decision was made to get up and be productive instead of stirring for an hour getting nothing accomplished. There was a lot to account for after all.
My Brother, Jesse and I would leave at 8. The house was quiet as I scrambled 5 eggs, cooked them up and topped them with salsa. Eggs and a tall glass of water in peace was a great start to an adventurous weekend at Superior.
Now it was time to fill up with gas and grab a cup of coffee. The forecast showed nothing but blue skies with no rain in sight. It could look much different 3 weeks from now heading into the Sawtooth 100. We would enjoy clear skies and warm temps this weekend though.
The plan was to start at Gooseberry Falls and cover 25 miles on Saturday. Sometimes in life, plans change... Jesse and I would then meet up with the third member of the crew, Todd Saturday night , sleep at the trailhead, and run the next 25 to Finland Sunday.
after packing up, we headed North on an adventure that I won't soon forget
Gooseberry - Split Rock - We made our way to the trailhead, Jesse dropped me off and headed to Split Rock. This section, we believed, was nearly 10 miles. It turns out it was only 6 and I ran them a bit too quickly (10 minute pace). It was a beautiful day, not too hot yet (11:45), my legs were fresh and full of excitement, and the trail was conducive to rolling speed. It was like the trail was just buttering me up for what was to come later in the day.
Jesse was only in from Split Rock .75 miles when he met up with me so we cruised to the car for aid. I wasn't fueling much on the first section as I was covering ground so quickly and feeling great.
Little known to Jesse or me, going off the race maps would be a mistake on this trip. The mileage lost in the first section would be made up in the second. Not to mention a couple of wrong turns, trail closures, and a chance encounter with a boss in the North Woods.
I reached the car at Split Rock nearly full of fuel. I should have left totally full but didn't and it almost cost me. There is a loop at Split Rock Park that must be included in the Gooseberry - Split Rock section of the Superior 100. I came to the top of a grassy hill, just beyond a winter ski shelter, and saw consecutive North turns blocked off with "trail closure" signs. So, I followed the open trail down to Hwy 61. There was a trail guide there who directed me back to the top North to Beaver Bay. + 1 mile - wrong turn.
My understanding was that Split Rock to Beaver Bay was 10.3 miles. + 4 miles - Split Rock Loop.
As I got to the top of the hill and went through the "trail closed" sign towards Beaver Bay and my aid I say a sign for Beaver Bay - 11 miles. I had already come 4 from Split Rock, it was getting hotter, the woods getting thicker, adrenaline was gone, and I barely had enough fuel for 10.3 miles. There was an eerie stillness to this section of trail since there had been no foot traffic for almost a week.
The flowers were beautiful and the berries were thick so I'm sure the bears were eating well. I crossed through another orange blockage, headed down a beautifully groomed trail for .5 miles. Something didn't feel right so I turned around. I learned this weekend that when you're in the woods on foot, it's better to stop and think than just go. + 1 mile - impatience.
This 10.3 mile section has now turned into 15 miles and I'm not even half through it. As my thoughts began drifting to rationing my water and fuel, I'm stopped dead in my tracks. 200 feet straight ahead, miles from anywhere, I'm face to face with a full grown black bear...
I knew immediately that I was not going to win this one. We locked eyes, both froze, and the beast rumbled off into the thick forest. I looked back and thought of retreat. That wasn't an option so I waited a moment, made some noise (the rest of the day), and walked past where the bear had gone into the wood. At that point I removed the headphones from my ears and was on high alert.
Not long after my encounter with the bear I passed through an area of tall grass. Totally exposed, the thought came to me just how vulnerable I was out there alone, no cages, glass, or bars protecting me from the wild.
The terrain went from thick undergrowth to more rocks and climbs. I was a bit more exposed to the sun but the breeze felt good.
My fuel running low I came to a sign and a split in the trail. It was 6.6 miles to Beaver Bay. That's a long way in these woods on foot if you've never been to the Superior Hiking Trail.
I was getting really low on fluid and if I hadn't had 8% battery life on my phone and been able to get service, I don't know where I'd be right now. I was able to call Jesse for him to bring water... As much as he could carry.
You know the tin man in "The Wizard of Oz" before he was oiled up. That was me from the waist down when I made the phone call. I had sips of water left and less than a pack of sports beans. My pace was unreadable on the Garmin and I was in serious trouble. If you've never experienced that feeling, imagine all of the muscles in your upper leg fully tightening at once making it nearly impossible to move. Then, knowing if you don't move, you won't get out of the woods. Forward motion was my only option and thankfully I knew there was water on the way.
Thank you Jesse! He made it to me with 3.14 miles left to go. I downed a bottle of water and had 2 extras to get me in. It was like oil to the tin man. That severe cramping would stay with me through the weekend and will probably be with me for a full week to come. I was able to get out of the woods that day.
Day 1 Recap - my phone died 10 minutes after I made that phone call for water -
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