After last week's less than great tempo run, I was hoping to have a better one. I did. 4 miles at 7:30 pace. Right on the money. I love how a good work out can make up for a bad one. I felt really good.
As I said last time, I knew my training for the week would be thrown off with a high pointing trip. At this point, I'm more willing to scrap long runs than speed sessions, which is more my weak point.
On Friday, Loren and I left for Arizona for what I like to now refer to as my Annual Mid-September Media Blackout™ (how could I possibly ever forget when I am constantly reminded?). We landed in Phoenix in the late morning and headed up to Flagstaff. Right out of Flagstaff, we got hit by a crazy ass storm. Off in the distance, we could see the very dark clouds and amazing bolts of lightning. Within about 15 minutes, it was right over us and raining hard. The big heavy drops quickly turned to quarter-sized hail and pinged and bounced off of everything, causing traffic to come to a literal stop. It was amazing and over within about 8 minutes or so. The emergency broadcast system broke into the radio station AFTER we had driven through the storm.
We made it to Flagstaff and hung out in the cute little town, got some food, checked the weather, and headed towards Arizona Snow Bowl, where Humphrey's Peak, the AZ high point, is located.
There was a chance of rain over night and a chance the next day. Thunderstorms gather very quickly up on this mountain and serious weather, like that hail and even snow, can blow in with little notice. On top of a 12,000' mountain is not where I want to be when there's hail and or lightning. We decided on a sunrise hike.
Can I just say the National Forest service is really cool? On the way up to the mountain there is a dispersed camping area, meaning there are camp site with no services, but nice spots for tents and fire pits and totally free. Awesome. Loren and I found a nice spot, pitched out tent, set an alarm for 5 AM and lights were out by 9.
We had planned to be on the trail by 6AM but due to a road closure for construction, we were slightly delayed. By 6:40, we were on the trail along with 4 other people. We went back and forth with them for most of the hike up. A few miles in, we were passed by a woman just FLYING up the trail. Granted Loren and I weren't going slow, but we're also not acclimated to the altitude (the trail starts at 9500'). While we were taking a water snack break, she passed us again headed back down. I was like like wow, you got up there fast! She said, no, I have limited time today so I set an alarm on my watch to turn around. I'd say she' got within a mile or so of the summit and did so very fast. I was impressed.
Around 9:30, we hit the top. The 4 people we left with got there right before us. We hung out, took some pictures, had a snack, and watched the clouds gather around.
This is #31 for me and #33 for Loren. Here's a lovely piece of trivia: I have worn that hat on most of my high points. It's a 1998 Yankees World Series hat. Loren has also worn her Blue Buffalo hat on most high points. It use to be dark blue and she almost lost it when it blew out the window of the car somewhere in OK last year.
I can't tell you how glad I am that we went up early. It was a parade of people headed up as we headed down. I'd say at least 50 others. This is a popular and accessible trail, I just haven't seen that many people headed to a high point in a while. We were down by about 12:30.
We spent the rest of the day hanging out in Flagstaff, eating. That night we headed toward Sedona where we rented a cute little cabin for 2 nights. While Sedona is beautiful, the landscape and all that, I could really do without the super tourist aspect of things. Luckily, it only takes hiking a mile or so to really get away from it.
The night of our hike, we had dinner at Elote which is a pretty hyped up place but I'd say it lives up to it. The food was really good.
The next day and a half we spent exploring some trails and hikes in Sedona, including a run on Soldier's trail which was pretty awesome. I'm posting this picture of Loren running because I love it.
People look at us like we're nuts when they come across us running on hiking trails. It's a great away to get a run in and see everything. Plus, when we got the trail head, it was closing in an hour so we didn't have a lot of time!
Monday morning we got up early again to get 1 last hike in before catching our flight. We headed to Cathedral Rock. It was nice to be there early before the heat and once again before most people. It's a short steep climb up to a really beautiful view. A great way to end the trip. It also reminded me how far I've come in the last few years in my hiking. Not long ago scurrying up rocks like this would have made me pretty nervous. Not that I'm not careful still, I just don't see it as big of a deal as I use to.