Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blessing in Disguise

After two years of suffering from what I thought was Piriformis Syndrome, I finally got MRI results that positively confirm High Hamstring Tendinopathy.  The good news is that at last we know what is causing all of my problems and we can thus begin to treat it.  The bad news is that this treatment means at least four or more months off.  And by off, I mean not just running but no cross training (biking, swimming, tennis).

So gone were my plans to finish my Hardrock Qualifier at the Run Rabbit Run 100 in September.  Gone too were my big dreams of thru hiking the John Muir Trail this July or at least a big segment of the Colorado Trail.  I would not be able to do anything and for me, this is actually be torture.

But I so love the mountains that I thought I would go to the mountains anyway, just minus the intensive physical activity.  A relaxing trip might be nice for a change.  And since I wasn't going to be hiking 25 or 30 miles a day, maybe the kids would want to go.  As it turned out, only my son Jim was excited at the prospect of roughing it for nearly a week.

So what was originally a curse of not getting to do all the things I've wanted to do like hike the rest of the Colorado Trail, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  My nine year old son Jim and I had the best time!  It was so much fun and so I thought I would include it in my blog.  The trip will also inspire many more such trips in the future!!

We left at 5 pm and drove for about 6 hours before sleeping at a rest stop near Amarillo.  The next morning we drove to Alberquerque where I surprised Jim with a trip in the world's longest Tram to the top of Sandia Peak.  It was great and Jim loved it.

After the tram ride, we had a picnic lunch on the way to Durango.  In Durango we picked up last minute supplies for camping including a new sleeping bag for Jim which he was really excited about.  On to Silverton where we found a nice primitive campsite along mineral creek.  That night we cooked out hot dogs and roasted marshmallows.  A more perfect campsite could not be found and the weather was nice and cold and we both slept soundly.

In the morning we had oatmeal, I had coffee while Jim had hot chocolate.  We packed our day packs and camelbaks and off we went for a hike on the Ice Lake Basin Trail.  I had thought that this would be a nice introductory hike for Jim but as it turned out, I was very wrong.  This was a much more difficult and arduous hike than I had expected.  Though only 8 miles round trip, it has a lot of elevation gain.

Jim did great with the first long climb to the meadow but after about two hours, he was getting fatiqued.  But this hike is deceptive because when you get to the meadow, you can see the basin that you hike to and it seems so close.  So we continued past my self designated 2 1/1 hour turn around point.  It ended up taking another hour and a half to get to the ice lake basin.  But we couldn't bring ourselves to come so far and not see the ice lake.  It was great.  We had lunch and I waded in the ice cold water.  Then we began the long descent back to camp.

It was tough going and the first part of the descent was slow going and tricky, but the further we got, the faster we made progress until at last we were back at the car after nearly 7 1/2 hours.  We were both exhausted and we spent almost two hours just laying in the tent recovering.

Jim started to get real quiet as we drove into town for dinner.  I started to become somewhat concerned.  So I just picked what seemed like a good place to eat in Silverton.  I was so proud of him for persevering on that hike that I told him he could order whatever he wanted.  He ordered a grown up burger and potato skins for appetizers.  He was still very quiet and fatigued until the potato skins arrived.  After only a few bites it quickly revived him and he was a new man.  I know exactly how it feels to be that exhausted and then have food that tastes so good help bring you back to life!

After dinner we found evidence of Bigfoot.  A huge footprint.  Jim has been fascinated by the show on television about Bigfoot and we are quite sure that we did at last find conclusive proof of Bigfoot's existence.  There was even a bumper sticker left at our camp the next morning -

So more marshmallows and another roaring campfire and a sound night's sleep in the mountain air.  The next morning we got up and we were suppose to head back to Durango that night.  While having breakfast I told Jim I didn't want to leave and how would he like to stay another day.  He was excited about that.  So together we decided it would be fun to drive to Ouray and tour a gold mine, soak in the Hot Springs as originally planned but then instead of going back to Silverton, we would drive on another 3 hours to Moab, Utah and tour Arches National Park.

The drive to Moab was great.  It was amazing to watch the scenery unfold from 14,000 peaks, to high plains scattered by huge canyons and then more peaks in the distance as we got closer to Utah.  After getting into Utah, Jim thought it looked a lot like Radiator Springs from the Cars movie.  I think that was spot on.

We found a great campsite along the Colorado River and at dinner at a really nice little place in Moab that had misters to cool off the outdoor seating area.  I think Jim picked the place because he thought the misters looked cool.  Then we rushed to Moab to try to watch the sun set on Delicate Arch.  The landscape was unlike anything I ever saw and pictures can never do it justice.

We didn't quite make it for the sunset on delicate arch but watched the sun set over the other part of the park.  As we were coming back toward campsite around 9 pm, the car thermometer read 105.  It was going to be a rough night of sleep unlike those cool mountain nights.

When we got back to camp it was sultry.  Then the wind picked up and blew bugs all around us.  We decided to just make the best of it and go to bed.  Sometime around 1:30 in the morning it seemed to cool off enough so that sleep was possible.  I'm sure camping in a tent at Moab would be great any other time than summer but in July, best to get a room with AC.

The next morning we were packed up and out of there and ready to tour Arches more thoroughly.  We hiked for a couple of hours through Devil's Garden and the highlight of that is the landscape arch which is just huge.  Then you can boulder on up higher and Jim and I both enjoyed the scramble.  There were also lots of rock tunnels filled with sand to run around in and that was a lot of fun.

But we had to drive five hours to Durango so we went back into Moab where the car got a very needed oil change and then we drove to Durango stopping at Ouray for ice cream.

In Durango, we allowed ourselves the luxury of a cheap motel room and a hot shower and air conditioned room with real beds.  We slept soundly and in the morning our grand finale for this great adventure was a Colorado River Rafting trip.

The lower Animas river was at a low level and so the whitewater wasn't as big as may I had hoped but it was certainly enough to impress Jim.

Done at 12:30, we got back into the car and began the long drive home.  Jim and I talked and laughed the whole way home and talked about the great fun we had on our adventure and planned future adventures as well.

I think the sisters will definitely want to come with us after having heard about all that we did.  And the trip definitely made up for not being able to backpack or run because of the hamstring injury.

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