Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Arizona's Bigfoot, the Mogollon Monster, Lives

In an attempt to ruin myself again, an attempt on the inaugural event, I thought I'd give the Mogollon Monster 100 a shot. Which is already leading innocent runners to the wrong idea, its actually 106 miles, 20,000 ft of elevation gain, a 36 hour cutoff, and a promise that its going to be one of the toughest "100" milers out there. 

I have no doubt. And I also have my doubts. 

Day 1.  I left D-BO, the Kingman house, Saturday afternoon, and barely made it to the running shop in flagstaff by closing time to pick up some gu's. There were a couple other sporting shops I had in mind in case I didn't make it, but there was something else I needed....now what was that.... Something important... OH look!  A book store! I can pick up a copy of Marathon and Beyond! Someone told me there's an article about Across the Years and a pic of me in there. I'll go grab that real quick. 

Got it!  Cool. Don't see the article in there. Hmmm. Oh well. Good reading material. 

I make it to the mogollon rim, in the dark, and drive down Milk Ranch Road off Rim Road and there are a gazillion giant rv's and horse trailers and orv's and families sitting around giant camp fires. I'm slightly jealous.  I drive on by looking for an empty spot off the road, spy an obscure rocky road and take it to the end. Perfect. I see nobody. A couple hours later while I'm eating the acorn squash I'd baked at home and sipping on wine, I hear a gun shot...WTF?!  Is some drunk redneck shooting at bigfoot??  I don't know but its got me freaked out now. Which also makes all the other sounds around me extra spooky. Great - a not so great night sleep ensues, with visions of being dragged out of the bed of my truck by my feet to be mauled by bigfoot, dancing in my head. 

Wake up the next morning - get a chance to walk around and look at my surroundings.  Not so spooky in the daylight!  Funny how only seeing something at night makes it more spooky. 
Start making some coffee...Sunuva.... THAT'S what I needed.... Propane!  Got just enuf to make coffee, thank goodness I have a backup bp stove with me!  

Later, As I'm digging a hole for my morning duty (one with a view off the rim of course) I see a sign on a tree.  Hmm, must check that out when I'm done. A few minutes later I'm tromping thru the forest towards the tree with the sign. It says, "in memory of John or Tom something".  Oh crap, its a grave?  Nice. No wonder I felt spooked.  It wasn't just the coyotes wailing all dang night.  Oh wait, there they go again.  Time for me to get outta here me thinks!!  Clouds roll in, I pack up and am in the truck just in time for some sprinkles.  

Looking at the course map & info for the race, I decided to check out the other end of the course, meanwhile getting a chance to see the parts that will run over the rim road too.  I finally get to Myrtle Trail.  It's a mile and a thousand feet down and it takes me 30 minutes.  Wow. The RD says he marked the course well. That is indisputable. What may be disputed is the fact that someone calls this a trail. If it weren't for the ribbon course markers I'd never know there was a trail here.  It's steep as hell, covered with tall grass, with rocks and holes underneath. Take a step and hope for the best!  For the race, we'll have to come up this. 

Make my way down to the Highline Trail, run along that for awhile, turn around at a creek after about an hour and return. Back on Myrtle trail and now travelling in the direction of the race, I can honestly say, HOLY SHIT.  We gotta come up this MF'er??  My god.... Ok, so its only a mile, but its gonna hurt at mile 55 or so.  

I found a free campground to stay in tonight. For dinner, made a chopped up sweet potato (baked at home w that squash), boiled in coconut milk, plus some spices.  Yum!!!   Even better while listening to ultrarunner podcasts!  It was raining when I got here so I waited to cook, and its nice & clear now. Hope it stays that way. And hope I get more sleep than I did last night.  

Day 3.  Funny how I seemed to have slept more that first night than last night, in a seemingly safe place, I layed awake for a couple hours at a time. What else is new.

After fiddling with my camelbak hose for almost an hour this morning (which resulted in a stick and 2 chopsticks getting stuck and broken inside the hose, and it getting cut it half), I picked the cabin loops section of the course to explore today. Mostly because there is mention of Dane Spring with good delicious water, that if I can find I can fill up my jugs and not have to drive to town first thing tomorrow.  So off I go, and find the road I can drive to the spring. 
But after a futile 2 hours of tromping and trapsing around in the forest, I still can't find it.  Of course, that's just made me more annoyed that I couldn't find it, so I decide ill find it via trail and figure out how to get to a road from there (kinda like reverse engineering).  I follow the easy directions from the race course description and find the spring via trail. But WOW the trail is so incredibly nice and runnable I can't help but keep on running. Knowing I need to be taking it ez this week, 
I go back after another mile or so, spy a trail going off in another direction and follow it a short quarter mile to the exact area I had been parked in earlier.  Figures.  Ok well at least I know where it is from the parking area. I fill my camelbak and my bottles and run back. Damn this camelbak is heavy with 2 liters of water!!  How the hell do I run with this thing??  I need to rethink that.  

Back at the truck, I drive back to where I had been searching, this time finding that darn little trail and lug two gallon jugs down there and back up the steep little quarter mile hill to get water.  Ahhhh now I can relax. 
Drive back out then down another dirt road to find pinchot cabin (which, of course, I don't find) and a place to camp for the night near the trails ill check out tomorrow. 

Leftover dinner from last night, last of the wine, and some cheese and crackers, and an ultrarunner podcast and all is again well in the world. 

Oh yeah, near the trail for the spring I came across some flowers and what could be a tin of ashes or something, with the name "Zane" in the cement in the top of the can, and the years 1954-2008.  Hmm, zane...zane grey trail.. ill have to look that up. I almost camped near there till I saw that. I've had enuf of spooky spots for the week.  I did, however, pay a little respect and asked Zane for some luck finishing this race.  Hope he helps me out!

Day 4.  Found pinchot cabin while walking around the course trails this morning!  
Back in the free campground on the rim road. Where I really wanted to be is what looked like a campground near a hot spring, about 20 miles from here, but alas it was not meant to be that I be clean and good smelling.  I drove to Strawberry, picked up some salad and tomatoes, (been craving that and avocados), and propane!, turned off on my road to the hot springs, see a sign that says the road is closed ahead, ignore it like I do most signs, see another sign for goat cheese and goat milk fudge up ahead, decide not to ignore that sign, stop and get some delicious goat cheese and fudge, ask them if the road is really closed, and yes... It is washed out ahead. Instead of ignoring that advice like I normally would if it was from an actual adult, I choose to believe them because they are young girls who were also trying to get down there earlier.  Ok, plan foiled. No plan B (there IS no plan B!) so I drive to Pine to scout it out, make a couple phone calls (I haven't talked to another human in too long), get a hold of Miki, talk her ear off until she has to go, then head back to the Mogollon Rim.  Sit around trying to figure out logistics for the race, as in, where do I want my drop bags, what'll be in them, where to use poles, water bottles vs camelbak, etc. and just stare at the course maps in general (this proves invaluable later during the race).  Made some tuna salad.  Be cool if there was someone to share this cheese with!  My god its delish!!  

There's some very weird sound going on around here, I think its the hunters with some horrible sounding call, but then I saw the female elk headed right for it.  No gunshots, they are so close to this campground.  Hope they realize where they are.  Unless it really is an elk calling for his mate. But no, its been going on way too long.  Strange. 

Looks like the moon is going to be spectacular for the race! 

Day 5.  It's getting a little crowded here at my free campsite, there are now 2 more people here.  Sheesh. 
Aside from my new friend, elk hunter old man Monte. Last night he lit a campfire, which in my book is an invite. So I went over there and, like me right now, he was more than happy to have someone to talk to.  He's hunting elk with a bow & arrow.  And if he gets one I asked if he'd cook any up tonight, inviting myself over in the process by mentioning how I've never had elk meat before.  I got my fingers crossed.  Trying not to make dinner too early just in case. 

But I digress. It's been a relaxing day, I drove to a little hidden spot at a creek that old man Monte told me about, to wash up a little.  It was pretty cloudy water, I'm so spoiled by the sierra.  Then I drove to potato lake, sat my chair up there and read and had lunch.  It was nice.  
Oh those strange noises I heard last night, those were elk!!  Omg they were right here!!  Also I was woken up by a howling coyote followed by the yipping of the rest of the pack.  Just here next to my truck.  Are no animals afraid of me?!!  Come on!  Ok well we're even, since they've been around this rim the last 5 days so much, I barely cracked my eyes open then fell back asleep.  

Ok hoping to add an entry later, telling you how great elk meat is....

Day 6?  Have I been out here 6 days? Time flies.... Actually I'm pretty excited to get to go talk to a bunch of runners today.  Happens that Judith and Julian and a few friends are flying into phoenix and may drive by this way on their way to the grand canyon, so maybe ill see them at That Brewery in pine.  Dennis and Texas john are flying today too.  

No elk meat for me. Although 2 girls, who are a couple, are camped nearby.  They asked old man Monte about hiking trails, and be sent them to me. After I talked to her, found out she's from SF, I was thinking, poor Monte probably thinks Arizona is getting overrun by camping lesbians.  

Gonna head out of the wilderness soon. Maybe ill write more later. I can't believe the race starts tomorrow.  

Holy Moley!!  How do I describe this - rocky, rocky rocky rocky.  More rocks.  Loose rocks that slide and don't catch on anything, like baby skull size marbles rolling under your feet.  I don't know how I didn't bust open my water bottles I was holding, I landed on them so many times.. Grass - tall grass - that covers holes and rocks - which you slam your toes into, or hyperextend your knee as you step down into a hole.  Thats in the canyon.  Then there's the trails up top, on the rim, that were absolutely gorgeous. I ran those trails at night.  I've never been able to run so much at night before.  I loved that part.  

Well I was cut off at mile 65.  There was no point in going on - I would never have made any other cut offs, the course sweep was in front of me by 30 minutes, removing the trail markers, and my toe is about to explode inside my shoe.  Not to mention, in a month I'll be running Carkeek 12 hour run with a friend, so it doesn't bother me too much to stop now and preserve some body with no injuries for that. 
This race was an adventure - any inaugural race is.  The race director did a whole lot right for sure - and he'll probably take some feedback from the runners and make it even better next year.  Met a whole lot of great people - as usual, ultra runners usually are.  Nine people finished the race, the rest of us (40 starters) dnf'd for various reasons.  Certainly not complainin!  It was fun.  


No comments:

Post a Comment