Friday, July 18, 2014

Rocky Mountain High!

♫♪ Rocky Mountain High ♫♪...Ben Lomond!

No, it doesn't have quite the same ring to it as ♫ Colorado ♪, but it was still music to my ears!

WOW!  Not sure if there are words to describe my experience last week as I did my long run as a trail run to the peak of Ben Lomond.  Elevation 10,000 feet!  I am not a super experienced trail runner.  I don't even own trail running shoes.  I have made it to the top of mountains before, but mostly straight hiking or on a four wheeler.  Never on a run.  So this was an 
A M A Z I N G 
new experience for me.
I got up at 4:30 a.m. and Jen picked me up around 5:00 a.m.  It was about a 30 minute drive and so by the time we got stuff ready and situated it was probably about 5:45 before we started on the mountain.  We parked by North Ogden Divide.  The heat has been so intense lately that we knew had to get an early start to try and beat the heat.   I really didn't know what to expect, but I had gone with Jen on a 10 miler run last summer to White Rock in Perry and I couldn't believe the views there and how pretty it was.  So when she suggested we do this one to help with our hill training, I was totally on board!  

The views are unbelievable.  You MUST click to enlarge these shots.  I am not sure I have ever seen such breathtaking views in my life.  Well, okay except when I went sky diving in Hawaii.  That view was incredible!  But, there really is nothing like being on top of a mountain and the view from 10,000 feet either!  I really had no idea how astoundingly gorgeous this run was going to be!  There wasn't a single boring sight the entire distance!  We had planned on it being a 16 miler since the trail we took is 8.2 miles up.  But it ended up being close to 18 miles because we did a bit more distance once we got to the top. 
 The scenery was just so gorgeous!  It went from meadow looking with fields of wild flowers, to mountain looking with pine trees and that amazing mountain scent.  I was taken back by the beauty of it all.  It was a pretty steep climb and we did a lot of hiking on the way up.  That was okay because it was just so beautiful, and that gave us a little more time to soak it all in.

 Aren't these pictures so spectacular!?
We ran into a man and a dog right after we started and he saw a buck, and told us where it was, but we couldn't see it.  I was really excited to see the mountain goats.  Jen had been up here one other time and saw mountain goats so I was looking forward to that.  We saw a grouse and tons of chipmunks and squirrels, and even a rattlesnake on our way down!  THAT WAS COOL!  I never thought I'd say THAT, but it really was cool because he was just laying out coiled up on the trail when we came upon him and when Jen finally saw him, he was only four feet (if that) away!  We weren't sure if he was a rattlesnake at first because his coloring was so vibrant unlike any other rattlesnake I've seen and so I was surprised when he started rattling his rattles.  He was very non-aggressive and just slithered into the brush as he was warning us with his rattle.  Of course, the FIRST thing I said was, "Get your camera! Take a picture!"  Jen was pretty frozen making sure he wasn't going to get angry and my phone was dead and so sadly we didn't get a photo.  He was pretty fast getting out of our way.  The closest thing I could find online of what he looked like is this:
He had more dark spots on him though than this, and he was actually quite pretty!  And I think it really helped alleviate one of my biggest fears!  We have so many rattlesnakes on my mountain - which is my backyard - and so I am pretty paranoid of finding one!  I really can't even run the mountain in the summer if I'm alone.  It just terrifies me.  So seeing this guy, was actually a good thing because I saw that he just wanted to get away from us and didn't want to hurt us. Another fear conquered! 

I think this picture is my favorite one of the running part.  It was just so utterly GORGEOUS!  This may be my all time favorite running shot.

Just stunning views!  The view below was incredible!  It wasn't an easy climb and I was getting pretty tired and really wanted to get to the top, but I could see the peak and it always seemed So. Far. Away.  The trail does a lot of switch-backing and so it just seemed like it took forever to get there.  Those first three miles seemed like they were never going to end! 

BUT...alas they did!  

We made it!
Top of Ben Lomond Peak!  10,000 feet elevation! 

There were two men at the top when we got there and one was a DWR ranger.  They had come from over Willard Peak way, which was only a 2-3 mile hike.  They were from Mantua and very nice and even took these photos of us!  We were so lucky to find someone up there so we could get some great pix!

See what I mean?!!!
These jumping shots will be my favorite all time photos of any run!

"Those who would climb to a lofty height must go by steps, not leaps."
--St. Gregory the Great
The leaping is reserved for when you reach the top!
It really looks like we are flying and at least 50 feet in the air!  The guy that took them was a rookie at iPhone cameras too but he did such a great job on these!  I LOVE THEM!  I want to get one blown up and framed!

First time at the top of Ben Lomond Peak!  What an exhilarating experience! 
Being on the top of a mountain just makes you feel SO alive!  I love this photo too because you can see how far down it is over that cliff I'm standing on.


We decided to head over across the top a little ways in hopes of spotting the mountain goats.  We saw some on the side of a rocky ledge on our way up, but they took off and were pretty far away and so we wanted to get a closer view.  Unfortunately, we never did, except through some binos.  This is a picture Jen got of them last time she went up there.  They are soooooooooooo cute!
We did however run into some more peeps from our city that Jen knew really well that had came over from Inspiration Peak, (Willard Peak), the 3 mile route.  The sissy way!  hah  I knew them from association.  One is my youngest son's friend and another is married to a friend of mine, but I didn't know that at the time.  Jen knew the dad of the group.  They were quite entertaining to talk to and asked us if we had weapons to protect ourselves and Jen enthusiastically said, "Yes! Pepper Spray!"  They shot that down by saying we were nuts to just carry that instead of a real weapon...meaning a gun.  They said they wouldn't let their wives up there without one.  We thought they were saying we needed it to protect ourselves from wild animals, but they were meaning wild men.  Not to be naive or anything, but most crazies aren't going to hike up 8 miles to attack people in the mountains.  We weren't too worried.  They also told us we were going to get caught in a storm on our way back down and that we would be in trouble because that happened to two girls last year and they died.  We just laughed and told them we ran a marathon last year in a downpour at 42 degrees!  We emphasized it was 26.2 miles and we only had about 9 miles to get to our car.  They were pretty much telling us we were stupid.  I guess they weren't aware of Jen's self defense training and the fact that she could have taken any one of them down in a flash! ☺ We just laughed and told them we needed to get going because it was starting to get REALLY chilly!  The wind was blowing like crazy at the top and we did see some dark clouds rolling in.  We were actually hoping it would rain on us.   
The Willard Peak "sissy" way...

The rain never transpired with the exception of a few sprinkles.  We choose a really good day to do this because the temps were much cooler than normal and the cloud cover really helped us with the heat.  By the time we got to the car though, we were ready to be done and extremely hot!
The run down was so amazingly beautiful. I couldn't take it all in.  Sometimes I just had to stop and look and soak it in.

I REALLY enjoyed this run.  It is definitely in my top five runs of all time.  Just the feel of being on top of a mountain and knowing you climbed it by foot, is such an amazing feeling!  There are just no words to describe it really.  It just made me feel so alive and like I had really accomplished something.  It's one of those exhilarating things that not many people get to experience (like sky diving), and so it feels very special.  I really loved it.  I know why John Denver wrote that song Rocky Mountain High now, because that is what I experienced.  I got high from the highness of it all!  And I'm still feeling the high even a week later! 

When we drove off and looked up at how high and far away the peak was, we were in disbelief that we had actually climbed/ran to the top of that!  So cool!

I was VERY sore after.  It felt a lot like after a marathon and the recovery was slow, but it was so worth it!  I hope someday I can become a really good trail runner because I really enjoyed this.  Rattlesnake and all!

Nothing like getting high up high in nature!

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I'm glad you took pictures because I am too lazy to ever experience that myself! I think you are amazing!

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