National Trail Trek

Friday night my trainer sent me this:

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My trainer is more awesome than your trainer!

Yesterday morning I got up at my regular time for work and commenced to getting myself ready for the National Trail Trek! It was finally upon me! I packed the Gatorade, my snacks, got my car packed, got me dressed, and ate breakfast. During this process Gladys sat herself in front of the door that leads to the garage and was all “You are NOT going on a hike without me.” I literally had to pick her little ass up and put her in her pen. That’s how determined she was to go. And because of the text Tyler sent me, I totally stretched and foam rolled a bit before I left.

I arrived at the Activity Complex 30 minutes earlier than scheduled which meant I stood around there for an hour since the first bus wasn’t set to leave until 7ish.

Waiting for the buses with the silhouette of South Mountain in the background.

Waiting for the buses with the silhouette of South Mountain in the background.

Once we were all on the bus we realized none of us had been on a school bus since we were kids and it was quickly determined that those things are NOT designed for adults. My knees almost became a permanent fixture of the back of the seat. Ouch.

They dropped us off at the start of the trail and we all stood around and waited for as much of the Trail Mix group as we could to get a group photo:

Trail Mix! I do not know all of these people!

Trail Mix! I do not know all of these people!

After this we started up the trail right around 8am.

I passed some of the group early on that I never in a million years thought I would pass. And I somehow wound up doing the initial incline by myself in the middle of two other smaller groups. The group behind me was talking about redecorating their homes, a friend of theirs that had to have their breast implants repaired and then got larger ones and then she said “They’re big boaters.” And I was all “Wait…what? The boobs?” So you know I turned around and said “Her fake boobs are called big boaters? What does that even mean?!?!” Turns out the fake boobed girl and her husband like to go boating a lot. It was just an interjected comment. You know I’m gonna start calling my boobs the Big Boaters, though, right? Because I so am. I should make that my trail name. Big Boater. Right now it’s Smelly Cat. It’s not my fault.

I caught up with Jodie and Mike and we became a trio! Which was nice. I liked that I was hiking with part of my group. We started stopping at all of the mileage posts and posing with them, too. You can see our energy level wane as you look through them. It’s amusing.

So far, so good!

So far, so good!

We stopped at the five-ish mile point for the portapotties.

Hikers gotta pee!!

Hikers gotta pee!!

The trail before and after this is significantly different than what the beginning of the trail is like. The beginning is nicely groomed, even though it is a very rocky type trail with lots of stepping up and over rocks. But it’s wide and feels pretty good. It’s just a workout with the legs, man.

National Trail Trek-14

Not even halfway yet!

The trail after this and leading to the lunch stop was narrow and steep and rocky and at one point I proclaimed “What bullshit is this?!?!?” And we decided that should be a hashtag. I took no photos of this portion of the trail because I really had to focus on my walking. At one point I happened to realize that the trail was way narrow and there was just wide open air beside me and I was all “eeep!” But I did it.

When we descended that area for lunch we were kinda thinking we’d just get our lunch and head up the next major incline and eat it up there. But something took over us and as soon as the food was in our hands we attacked it like wild animals. I guess all of that work makes one hungry.

National Trail Trek-16

The best basic sandwich EVER.

I also drank half of my Gatorade and it was actually very good. That is good to know.

After lunch we hit the portapotties again and the person that went before me had diarrhea and the smell was so bad that I damn near barfed. Like, I coughed and gagged and thought I was going to have to run out of there with my pants partially down. Ugh.

Then? UP WE WENT YET AGAIN!

Now, before I talk about this up I want to explain that we were told that there are only two major inclines on this hike. I’m here to tell you that the majority of this hike is a lot of walking up hills and climbing up and over rocks. Sure, there are only two major inclines but that does not mean there are only two inclines. I spent most of my day walking up hill.

So we climb. And it’s steep and rocky but I’m OK and then we reach the top and we’re all “Yay! No more inclines!” and I finished the rest of my Gatorade and took off the bottom of my pants.

By this point my group of three had met up with another group of us and we became more like a group of ten or so. And it was fantastic. We’d all trained together. We all supported one another. And I’m glad we all joined up for the last six miles and finished this thing together.

Awesome people!

Awesome people!

This part of the trail is not used as much as the initial part so it is more rugged. There’s more narrowness and vast open spaces and steep. And I somehow managed it all just fine. I freaked out a wee bit but nothing that made me totally freeze.

When we reached the ten-ish mile mark the two friends I’d been hiking with initially were ahead of me but they stopped because we’d all been looking forward to making it to the double digits.

TEN MILES!!!

TEN MILES!!!

It was at this point that once I was alone with my thoughts I looked around and the mountains that were surrounding me, I looked at the trail I was on and realized I was walking on top of South Mountain along a ridge line, and that I was actually going to finish this thing and I cried a bit. I was just so damn proud of myself.

National Trail Trek-23 National Trail Trek-24

We've reached the end of the top. Let's start going down, shall we?

We’ve reached the end of the top. Let’s start going down, shall we?

Part of the descent went by an old mining shaft that is not roped off or closed and is in a curve and not marked. And my initial thought was that the trail was going into that hole and then I was all “Well…it’s been a good time, but I’m done.” But then I realized the trail curved around the mountain and I got less silly. This part of the trail was narrow but I somehow just walked along like it was a normal trail. I kept my eyes ahead and didn’t glance to the side too often, though. It was beautiful when I did and I kinda wish I could just look and not feel that fear and take photos but those narrow spaces really do scare me. Plunging death, you know.

I was slow going down, as usual, but not like I’ve been in the past. And everyone was so nice and supportive and told me not to sweat it. And one part of the down was really rough and not super smooth at all and I somehow managed to not freak out there, either. People cheered when I got down it because they know.

You can see them waiting at the bottom for me to start my way down.

You can see them waiting at the bottom for me to start my way down.

PHOTOBOMBEE!

PHOTOBOMBEE!

ALMOST THERE!

ALMOST THERE!

So. We get down and we realize, we’re not longer on the mountain! So there’s a three mile section that is just this flat, ugly, nothing trail that takes us to where the finish line is. It is, actually, part of the National Trail even though we have NO idea why. It was terrible. Before we got there I was looking forward to it. No more climbing. No more inclines. No more declines. Just nice flat trail. But it was three miles and we were all so tired and the Sun was out and the breeze we’d had all day was gone and UGH! We hated it. We all just talked incessantly to keep ourselves and everyone else’s minds occupied. But, damn. During these last few miles I was all “I’m done. I’m done. I’m done.” in my head. Because my legs, man. They were wore out. We even kicked into high gear and walked faster than we had all day. Despite the tired. Because this part is terrible. It’s death valley.

Then we see the 14-ish mile marker and was all “WE ARE SO CLOSE!!!”

Joy! And Pain!

Joy! And Pain!

Then we see the end is in sight! And we rejoice. And Jodie stopped and waited for me and we talked about how tired we were and that we just wanted to be done and even though we could literally SEE the end we were both kinda, like, can we just be done now? Now, yeah? But we were not. So up the hill we went and we heard people cheering as our group crossed the line and that pushed up to make it! AND WE DID!

I WALKED 15.5 MILES ACROSS SOUTH MOUNTAIN!!!!

I DID IT!!!!

I DID IT!!!!

I have the shirt to prove it!

I have the shirt to prove it!

We all hugged and high fived and took photos and hung out for a bit and just, generally, marveled at what we just accomplished and gave each other props and it was fantastic.

The van ride back to our vars was full of cheerful chatter. When we arrived to our cars we all head out to our Mexican food celebration dinner! Much chips and queso was enjoyed.

The day could not have been more perfect for a long hike. The air was nice and clean, the sky was blue and clear, and there was a nice, constant breeze for most of the day. Just really perfect.

When I got home, I was welcomed by this face:

Walk me? Please?

Walk me? Please?

I could not. I could only shower then get on the couch. I was so tired.

I managed to do laundry and things like that and went to bed at my usual time. Then I got up this morning and took her on our 4 mile recovery/keep ourselves loose hike.

Let's goooooooo!

Let’s goooooooo!

Even though this was a short hike and it is a really good idea to do a small hike after a big event like I did on Saturday, my legs were just so tired and heavy. And there was a lot of chatter. So I’m glad I have the rest of today to just be me and my girl. I need some quiet, I think. Just rest and relax and process what I accomplished yesterday.

So, there’s one accomplishment under my belt! And Sabrina said “You know Andrea…you’ll not be hiking this far on any of your days in the canyon. So, that will be a breeze now!” I tend to agree.

I did it!!

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