It wasn’t even raining. In fact, for a brief moment the sun shone under the clouds and there was a golden glow to the world. The sky looked blue to the east, and I convinced myself all would be well. But the rain comes from the west. And before long it was raining. At least it wasn’t raining hard.
I was going up Rattlesnake, then taking the connector and proceeding up to Camino Cielo, and then down Gibraltar Rd. I didn’t know how long things would take… I hoped to get to the mercury mine, but that just showed how poorly I knew the back-country. Mike told me 16 miles total, and the 8 mile turn-around was long before the mine.
I know it can be bad for the trail to run on it in the rain (or right after the rain). I’m usually telling everyone else that. And here I was running on a trail in the rain. For a time I tried coming up with an excuse for myself. But I couldn’t. So I continued to run on a trail in the rain even though I knew I shouldn’t.
Stream crossings can be quite exciting when the creeks are in flood. And I didn’t really feel the need for that excitement so I took the route on the right bank rather than the standard trail; this alternate route has only one crossing instead of three the other way.
I’m not sure when I last did a trail run in the rain, and at first it was rather fun. Suddenly there were little streamlets where before there was nothing and every dry gully had a noisy stream running down it. The skies were lowering, the light was dim, and it felt that the trees were hugging me into their little world, just me and the trees.
Then the rain seemed to ease back a bit. I came out into the meadow and saw the clouds covering the mountains, and very soon I was inside the clouds and it was all foggy.
I think there is something glorious about running in the fog. Nothing is really visible, but you know it is there. Safe in a foggy cocoon. I couldn’t see the trail ahead, but I just kept going…
It was so foggy I could not see the dry falls (only they were wet today); they were hidden in the mist as I went by. The trail turns and (for a bit) follows the creek bed that feeds the falls and that was fairly impressive in its own right.
Then on and up to Camino Cielo, where I had my first GU, and down the other side on Gibraltar Rd. It was quite windy, here in the pass, and the rain had picked up again. I started to get cold.
My watch told me I hadn’t been running up very fast. Difficult terrain? More difficult because of the rain? Tired? Anyway I was a bit disappointed and I tried to pick up the pace on this nice downhill fire road.
I really was cold. My gloves were completely soaked and my hands were numb. I gave up on getting to the mercury mine and started fantacizing about hot baths.
When I reached 8 miles I stopped. I took off my gloves, hoping my hands would warm up if they weren’t in little pockets of cold water. I tried to eat a GU. It proved extremely difficult to open, my hands were all weak and could not tear it. Eventually I tore it with my teeth.
Then back up. Hoping I would warm up with the uphill running.
Didn’t seem to work.
I got to the top again, it was raining fairly hard now, and I managed to get lost in the large expanse where the ATVs have destroyed the vegetation. I was also trying to avoid the large puddles which had accumulated in the last couple of hours. I wandered around for a bit, climbing hills I shouldn’t have, before, eventually, I stumbled on the real trail again.
At 11 o’clock it began to hail hard. Hailstones were about 1mm in diameter, but the wind was blowing fiercely. After a bit I noticed that the hail was starting to stick — from a distance it looked as though the hills were covered in a light layer of snow. No wonder I felt cold.
After 15 minutes (or so) of hail it let up again. The trail was covered with ice for a while, but even after it started to melt there I would see little patches of ice, all the way down to the dry falls.
The fog had lifted, and this time when I came beside the falls I got a good view of them.
I was still cold, and my hands didn’t work. I had not dressed for hail. I considered eating more GU. I knew I should. It might warm me up a bit. But I could not face the struggle.
I hadn’t drunk much water either, but that didn’t worry me. I was probably breathing in as much rain as I was sweating.
It did stop raining. And as I headed down the connector the sun even poked its nose out for a bit.
When I got to my bike I found my hands were so weak they couldn’t press hard enough to undo the clasp on my backpack (key was in the backpack, had to remove the pack to get the key). It seemed I spent 5 minutes wrestling with the clasp. It’s a simple clasp, you just push on both sides and it pops open. But my fingers would not push.
Finally it opened.
Then I started struggling with the key. It would fall out of my hands before I got it to the lock. Or I’d push it in the lock and it would pop out. I tried warming my hands on my legs, but that wasn’t very effective. Finally I got it in the lock,
and I turned it,
and it stopped. Almost all the way to open, but not quite. I kept struggling and finally, finally the lock opened.
By this point I was worried that I would not be able to operate the breaks and I’d be forced to walk home, pushing the bike. Luckily the breaks needed a different set of muscles and I could use them safely.
But I couldn’t shift. I rode the 6 miles home in my lowest gear.