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438HardRock100 story (looooong)

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  • reno_debra@emc.com
    Jul 27, 2001
      forwarding this message for Joe...

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Joe Prusaitis [mailto:rpec50@...]
      Sent: Friday, July 27, 2001 12:32 PM
      To: Prusaitis, Joe
      Subject: HardRock100 story (looooong)

      Hardrock 100
      July 13-15, 2001
      Silverton, Co
      Joe Prusaitis

      Silverton to Kamm Traverse- 11.6mi
      'Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they
      go' -T.S. Eliot

      Silverton can no longer contain us. Our horde of a hundred plus
      busts loose at 6am and rumbles toward the mountains. Reining in my
      energy, I walk out of town with Jan Gnass and Bill Rideg. With no one
      behind us, John Cappis walks us out to the Christ of the Mines.
      Strolling through the aspens on a very fine dry morning, Nute's Chute
      leads us up an old abandoned railroad bed just east of The Million
      Dollar Highway. Two easy miles before we drop to the highway. A raucous
      crowd waits for us to cross, while Dale stops traffic. Slogging through
      spongy marsh to a 30 foot fixed rope, we slip into the fast moving
      snowmelt of Mineral Creek. With both my compatriots on line, I avoid the
      jerking and bouncing rope and wade the shallow but bitter cold stream. A
      shiver runs through my body and shakes loose, tingling as the numbness
      flees. We join Hans-Dieter in conversation as Bear Creek Trail begins
      gently between Bear and Sultan mountains. In a thick growth of tree and
      scrub, the ground is soft and forgiving. This soon turns to large knife
      edged rocks, underfoot and all around, not a soft place to land for
      acres. The trail traverses the south face of Bear Mt. and falls away
      through a sea of rocks to Bear Creek far below. Turning into a high
      meadow with better footing, we pass a large mess of elk carcass. We hook
      up with Rollin Perry, Andrea Feucht, Steve Pero, and Deb Reno. We take
      our time, rising slowly above treeline, where a vast panoramic beauty
      opens before us and fills my senses. A large high valley filled with
      skunk cabbage and singing streams. My perspective shifts from brainless
      conversation to deep thought. Soaking in the sights and thoughtlessly
      following the line of people in front of me, I miss the blind split in
      waist high cabbaggery. Fifty yards back, someone yells out and I know
      instantly. Waking up and turning quickly uphill, I'm back on trail in
      two minutes. I knew about that split and missed it anyway...
      daydreaming. Gotta pay attention or this whole thing will end quick and
      ugly. Lemmings in a row, following blindly, once in back, now in front.
      I'm moving slower than these folks, and I'm soon in back again. We dip
      down to cross a creek, over a hump, and into a bog. Putnam Basin opens
      to our left with it's sheer walls all around, but we're making for the
      saddle in front of us. Rising ever slower to the saddle, I turn right
      and climb a larger, steeper rise filled with brilliant yellow, red,
      white, and purple wildflowers. My line of lemmings have gone on leaving
      me to enjoy the view in the silence of the wind. I sit down to catch my
      breath while I drink an Ensure and relax. Retrospection done and food
      consumed, I pack up and beat time across the ridge and down into the
      saddle. Putnam to my left, Cataract to the right, my route rides a rib
      between the two, the scene so striking that Sherry Mahieu chose this
      view into Putnam as the finisher's print. I fly down quickly, swoosh
      across the snow and muck in the saddle, and land on Cataract-Porcupine
      Pass. Another fine view spreads before me, which I roll through on a
      zigzag course of high marsh and scattered rocks. Halfway into Porcupine
      Creek basin and making lots of noise, dragging my butt across all size
      of composite rock and splashing through mud, my friend Max Welker hears
      me coming and moves out of harm's way. Through Porcupine Creek and into
      the trees, the trail offers a gentle rolling descent. Only the humpback
      on one of the Twin Sisters slows my descent before the spinning freefall
      begins anew. 'Come back here', Jennifer Roach yells as I ricochet by,
      but, it's hard to stop a big rock once it starts to roll downhill. Best
      just to get out of the way and wait until it hits bottom. I ping down
      the tight switchbacks in rapid fire fashion 'til I land in the muddy bog
      just prior the creek. Sinking to my knees in sludge, I high step through
      the muck and into the creek at the bottom. Icy cold water washes the mud
      away. Jim Ballard and Mike Dobies cross just in front of me, climb
      quickly, and disappear. A hundred yard climb fetches the jeep road that
      takes me to the Kamm Traverse aid station.

      Kamm Traverse to Chapman Gulch- 18.9mi
      'Dreams are the touchstones of our characters' -Thoreau

      My drops contain everything I need except water, and every station
      provide that, so with that in mind, and a handful of grapes, I move on.
      The strait and narrow Kamm Traverse tilts uphill, offering an exciting
      view of the basin below. Littered with rocks, scrub, and an occasional
      trickle stream, it's an easy ascent to enjoy the multitude of
      wildflowers that embellish the mountainside. Leaving the exposed
      traverse and entering the trees of Lower Ice Lake Basin, the ground
      becomes soggy, pitted with rocks and mud. Hopping from rock to rock, I
      avoid the mud holes with balance and dexterity. Minutes later, I apply
      these skills to cross a partially submerged log across a thundering
      stream below a gorgeous cascading waterfall. The sound is deafening,
      filling my head, until I climb up and away, the roar fading to a hum.
      Lower Ice Lake Basin is surrounded by towering walls and phenomenal
      beauty. Jim Sweatt joins me, crossing the open pasture hanging high
      above South Mineral campground. Towards a massive black wall, the trail
      turns back and rises above itself. While I ascend slowly, Chuck Kroger
      passes quickly and comfortably, and then Jim too. Harry Smith and a few
      others join the parade, condolences as they go. Climbing through a high
      pasture of bright green grass saturated with snow and stream, thunder
      starts to roll followed by rain. Dreading a storm on top, I want
      desperately to hurry, but seem to be stuck in granny gear. Island Lake
      in all it's splendor remains fixed in my peripheral vision, only one
      slide away. Others pass as I snake my way across the snow, and strait up
      the final scree pitch to the top. Grant-Swamp Pass and Joel Zucker's
      plaque receive a colorful rock, but I've learned not to loiter at 13000
      feet. There's nobody on the face, so I need not worry about loosing
      rocks on anyone. I hit the scree running and surf down in minutes. The
      grassy hump at the base turns quickly to large ugly sharp edged rocks
      that will break a leg or cut a tendon in one easy misstep. Passing a
      more sane and cautious Jim, I charge through them recklessly. While Jim
      and I hit the rocky trail, Hans-Dieter chooses the snow to ride down the
      valley. Oscar's Pass looms ahead, offering a view of what's to come,
      beautiful and imposing. The red mountain face rises well above treeline.
      Switching back and forth up it's face, a jagged scar, a nasty climb. I
      continue my downhill assault, sprinting towards treeline and crossing a
      snow bridge. It gives me the willies thinking of the cold dark water
      underneath, but the feeling can't hang on. Treeline brings a fine trail
      with less rocks, more pine needles, and plenty of shade. I haul on down
      to the road and then a creek. I cross on the logs to stay dry but soon
      find myself knee deep in muddy water as the road becomes a creek.
      Fruitless to avoid so I gravitate to the middle and wade downstream in
      the rain. Lyle Clugg waits for me, snapping pictures as I swim in. We
      talk as we walk into Chapman Gulch aid station.

      Chapman Gulch to Telluride- 27.6mi
      'To dare is to lose your footing momentarily. To not dare is to
      yourself' -Kierkegaard

      I change my shoes & socks and oh what a feeling! Fresh clean socks.
      toes are so happy. I slam another Ensure, load a flask for later, then
      take a PB&J as I walk out with Hans-Dieter, and Jim Sweatt just behind
      us. Ophir Pass Road to Oscar's Pass is one of the knarliest jeep roads
      in this area full of notorious jeep roads. 3000 feet of gain over 2
      miles of rock filled jeep road. As odds would have it, the clouds depart
      and allow the sun to roast my hide as I slowly crawl uphill. Doesn't
      take long for the flies to smell out my slow moving carcass and home in
      for harassment and formal dining. I wrap my bandana around my head and
      pull down my sleeves to reduce the amount of flesh available and try to
      ignore them. The buggers keep crashing into my face and bouncing off.
      Hans-Dieter detours into the bushes before we clear treeline and
      disappears behind me. Steve Pero and Deb Reno join the silent parade,
      stopping occasionally to take a picture or catch a breather. They wait a
      moment for me to share their insect repellent. Still swarming, they
      finally quit biting. Onward we crawl endlessly upward along with many
      others, no more than specs, lined up on the switchbacks. Finally, I
      summit along with Deb and Steve. The view is spectacular with
      Grant-Swamp Pass behind and Bridal Veil Basin on our right . Long
      swathes of snow are all that remains, and it's frozen hard to ice.
      Frozen footprints keep us from harm and lead us across the ice. It's a
      bit unnerving without crampons on this icy traverse, a fast slide down
      to the rocks. A misstep quite dangerous, we nervously work our way
      across the ice and then up to the Wasatch Saddle. Waiting for Steve and
      Deb, I drink an Ensure and finish my PB&J. Time to roll. From here to
      Telluride is all downhill. It begins to rain, which I could have used on
      the other side coming up The setting in this valley is breathtaking:
      cascading creeks, snow bridges, brilliantly colored flowers, high peaks
      and shear walls, some imposing and hard, others majestic and grand. The
      narrow trail switches at first and then skips about randomly, but always
      downward. A spec of color moving way off ahead gives me a target to
      focus on. I give chase and increase my speed of descent. The Wasatch
      Trail drops off the face of the Wasatch Mt. and I take the East Fork
      split, catching Jim Ballard just as a dark cloud sneaks up the valley
      and the rain gets more intense. A ten foot snow bridge with a post hole
      punched in it stops me cold. It's only ten feet down to the rushing
      water, and my brain spins through a variety of scenarios before I rush
      across in two steps, more by instinct than thought. Once across, I stop
      and wait for Jim. Should he fall through, he's going to need some help
      getting out. But, there's no need and we continue as before as the sky
      opens up and really begins to pour. As it rains harder, I run faster.
      Sure do love running in the rain. The trail crosses a wooden bridge and
      squeezes round a rocky cliff as it turns into a creek. The runoff spills
      down the rocky trail, racing me to the next turn. Below treeline, the
      foliage squeezes in quickly, reaching in with sopping wet branches,
      slapping me as I run through a gauntlet of water. Splashing along at
      high speed, laughing and grunting, I slip onto a jeep road and dash
      towards town. I catch up to Bill Rideg just as the rain stops and I slow
      to visit. We stroll into Telluride at a leisurely pace, where Lyle is
      waiting once again. He snaps a few shots and follows us in.

      Telluride to Virginius- 32.4mi
      'Great things are not done by impulse but by a series of small
      brought together' -Vincent van Gogh

      Mark Heaphy promised he'd have a pizza waiting here, so when asked
      there's anything I need... I ask for the pizza. The reply floors me, 'We
      thought you dropped, so we gave it away!' Stunned, I stare at her, 'You
      gave MY pizza away?' 'Not all of it. We ate the rest'. I sit down and
      sulk. They bring my drop and I unzip it in silence. Inside, sitting on
      top and wrapped in aluminum foil is the pizza. My emotions are all over
      the place and I'm not thinking clearly. I show them the pizza and they
      explain that they thought I was teasing... so they were teasing. 'Yea, I
      would do that'. I share my pizza with Bill and try to focus on the
      business at hand. I drink an Ensure and pack a flask for later, refill
      my water, change socks, reload my Succeed caps, and escape. Lyle walks
      me out and across the bridge leading into Telluride. I take a right on
      the first road, hoping it's Willow, but not certain. I have to stop on
      the main drag for traffic, then cross to a steep road. A woman walks
      alongside asking loads of questions. I answer one or two, before she
      finally falls back and disappears. The turn at roads end appears to be a
      driveway entrance, but hops a trail in back and then a jeep road. I
      enter the road just as an Ambulance is turning around, going back and
      forth, trying to turn without rolling off the cliff. I wait a few
      moments before dodging around and on up. I pass Bob Ross, who says
      'Where've you been?' and 'What took you so long?' I would hear it over
      and over again. I asked about his boys and he tells me they're both in
      front of him. The rain is light but constant, which I thoroughly enjoy.
      Love these conditions and do much better than if it were hot. I'm moving
      uphill extremely well right now. Passing through a stand of aspen, I
      marvel at their simple beauty, radiant through the sheen of rain. I
      catch Harry Smith and Susan Gardner next. 'You're climbing better',
      Harry says just before he and Susan pull ahead again. Phil Mislinski of
      TrailRunner is hiking down the trail, and I stop to visit for a moment
      before moving on. Clearing treeline, the climb gets steeper and rockier.
      Austere cliffs fill my view, but mostly, I look for a place to put my
      feet. Susan's gone, but Harry's not far ahead, moving quicker, taking
      more breaks. The last switch carries me across the final high traverse
      to Mendota Saddle. I take a moment to spin around for an unbelievable
      360 degree panoramic view. Cornet Creek Basin leads back to Telluride,
      while Marshall Basin falls away quickly below in front, and the comb of
      spires and peaks on my left includes the slot we call Virginius Pass.
      This basin was covered with a fresh coat of snow just a few days ago.
      Today, there is none. The trail across is an empty and barren traverse
      that I do not cover quickly. Alone, but for the wind, a serenity fills
      me. I feel the ache in my muscles, stingers here and there, and I feel
      complete. As much as I enjoy the company of the others, I relish these
      moments the most. I fall out of the moment, forget where I'm going, what
      I'm doing. Drifting inward, I stay there until I hear people talking
      just above. I'm at Virginius and there's a party going on.

      Virginius to Governor Basin- 35.5mi
      'Let the beauty of what you love be what you do' -Rumi

      The aid station's inserted in a comfortable 13000 foot slot. Lawn
      chairs, cooking stoves, friendly laughter. HardRockers enjoy extremes. A
      better bunch of folks you would be hard pressed to find! Somebody hands
      me a cup of hot cocoa and I sit down next to Harry. A couple of old
      birds sittin' on the porch sipping cocoa. I sip the warm brew and look
      down. A rope hangs over the side and nobody's on it. I hand the drink
      back and start down. In rapid slow motion, I'm over and gone. In an
      instant, the mood changes, from comfort to chaos. The slope's a mess of
      ice, mud, and rock, and the rope's covered with the same icy cold gunk.
      Within yards or minutes, the funk crawls all over me. What a mess. I
      love it! The rope ends where the snow begins. I let go and run down the
      snow, managing to stay upright. The first pitch done, two more follow. I
      run a zigzag route down snow on the second, and catch Susan on the
      third. This one's hard and icy, so I keep to the rocks 'til the bottom
      hundred, where I jump on and run to the base. The remnants of Virginius
      mine provides me a rusty bench where I sit to evict bits of rock and
      snow from my shoes. I visit with Susan while I shake the debris out and
      slip them back on. Nothing but road for the next seven plus miles, so
      I'm gonna fly until the sun goes down. Should arrive in Ouray just after
      dark. A rough and tumble jeep road leads down and I get after it,
      changing gears as I go. Been stuck in granny gear so long, feels strange
      using the big sprocket. Skirting rock, water, and snow, I whip round the
      corners, cut the tangents, and constantly choose shorter over smoother.
      Picking up steam and attempting to stay on the road, my mind's eye
      always three moves ahead of my feet. Halfway to Governor's Basin, I pull
      up next to Nancy Halpin and Richard Hypio. Nancy's struggling a bit, but
      I talk her into running down to the next station.

      Governor Basin to Ouray- 43.0mi
      'Follow your dreams as long as you live, do not lessen the time of
      following desire, for wasting time is an abomination of the spirit'

      I leave Governor's Basin running. As the sun sinks and the light
      I continue to run down Camp Bird Road. I pass Mike Dobies before pulling
      up with Mark & Margaret Heaphy. 'Thanks for the pizza'. There's one
      short flat stretch where I pull up and walk with Chuck Kroger, and then
      on ahead to pull Brad Hatten into my wake. In the darkness, Brad and
      roll into Ouray's Box Canyon parking lot and MASH unit. Marc Witkes,
      Steve Patillo, and a few others are leaving as we come in. Can't see a
      thing. If not for their voices, I wouldn't know one shadow from the

      Ouray to Engineer- 49.7mi
      'A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor people without
      -Chinese Proverb

      Crew & pacer, Kathleen & Paul Schmidt have been waiting, attempting
      once again to deal with my peccadilloes, for the next 57 miles or as
      long as it takes 'til I kiss the rock. No small job. They check
      flashlights, clothes, food, water, and supplements, while I retreat to
      the boy's room for more personal demands. Stowed in my pack all along,
      I've been carrying rain jacket & pants, overshirt, gloves, and socks. I
      plan to use them all. Just don't know when. Been on and off with the
      raincoat and gloves, while clean dry socks have become quite a luxury.
      Now that I've validated everything in my pack, I don't mind the weight
      so much. Another game I play. Am I carrying needless excess weight? I've
      become quite good at playing devil's advocate for either side of that
      argument. Along with my standard can of Ensure, Paul has me drinking Red
      Bull. Soup, sandwich, and pretzels round out dinner. With the variety I
      load up on, my stomach should erupt, but all is well so far. Paul's
      loaded for bear and heads to us car for one last thing, while I finish
      up, strap on, and head out. We walk out laughing, already enjoying the
      night. Back up Camp Bird Road and across to the reservoir. Between wall
      and water pipe, we duck under cables on the reservoir road. Scrambling
      through thick brush on a drunken trail, we rise up to drop in to the
      river basin. Wading the fast moving Uncompagre River along a fixed rope,
      we find it shallow enough that we manage with only our legs wet. Rising
      up to the Million Dollar Highway, we find Chuck putting on dry socks,
      just before I stop to put mine on. All of us cross the highway tunnel
      and start up Bear Creek Trail together. Climbing this section in the
      dark is quite interesting, not being able to see the shear drops, the
      rattle of thin rocks that sound like broken glass, the thundering of
      water as it falls off the mountain. Paul asks, 'How far away is the
      water'? I reply, 'only six inches'. We find my good friend Ginny LaForme
      sitting on one of the switchbacks, not feeling well at all. We stop to
      offer help, but with no practical solutions, Paul begins to sing,
      belting out a soulful tune as we move away up into the dark. We pass
      Grizzly Bear mine, and a few miles later, the old Yellow Jacket mine
      just as we catch Brad Hatten. The streams are full of rushing water
      thundering over the side, my feet wet again. Everything's wet. Must have
      recently rained hard up here. Near treeline now, Engineer aid station
      beacons out of the darkness, a lone bright lantern.

      Engineer to Grouse Gulch- 57.1mi
      'Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense'

      Matt Mahoney sits at the fire along with Mike Farris and a few
      Paul and I share a cup of broth then dissolve into the darkness, fleeing
      the fire. Mike follows us out and talks us up 'til we reach the soaking
      wet tundra just under Engineer Pass. A blinking red light beckons from
      the top, while slippery wet tundra plays havoc with my feet. My shoes,
      socks, and feet are cold and wet. Sliding inside my shoes on every step,
      I feel a hotspot developing on the soles of both feet. I turn my feet
      differently, shift my hips, climb sideways, stay on my heels, then toes.
      No matter what I do, I can feel the heat and the cold simultaneously. I
      want to stop and fix it right now, but the slope is steep and I know I
      need to get to the top before I stop. My poor feet! The climb seems to
      last longer than it should. Mental, it's all mental. I have to forget my
      feet and quit whining, even if it's unspoken. Mike pushes past while I
      struggle up, stopping way too many times. On top at last, I crawl across
      the final berm. Removing my shoes and socks, I can't bend my legs far
      enough, or get the light on them. Paul takes over, patching soles at
      13000 feet, while my bare feet begin to shake. My whole body begins to
      shake. Mike Dobies climbs up and gone while we jack around with my
      pitiful tootsies. Slipping frozen digits back into cold, wet socks, I
      attempt to roll downhill. Scuttling along on wooden blocks, lurching the
      long way around tiny rocks, balance betrays me. Impatiently, I wait for
      the thaw, the heating of blood in my toes and feet so that I can
      gallivant again. It's a few miles down the Alpine Loop. I can hear the
      Animas River tumbling alongside. Sure hate wasting this downhill, damn
      it! I need some cheese with this whine. Quit bitchin'! I make myself go
      faster, with absolutely no grace or dignity. Night of the Walking Dead
      comes rolling by with pendulum arms flailing high tech LED lights, and
      Marc Witkes dares to laugh. 'I've seen you faster Joe'. 'You ok?' 'I'm
      working on a new downhill style'. Mike Dobies reminds me again, he hates
      downhills. I can see lights ahead, on the left and lower down, as we
      bend to the right. I wonder if we missed a turn. I start to worry until
      we finally switchback to our left and turn down to the lights. We pass
      signs for Animas Forks and Cinnamon Pass, confirming our direction. I'm
      just starting to warm and loosen when we approach Grouse Gulch. Tiny
      lights flicker along our next climb, but first the aid station.

      Grouse Gulch to Sherman- 70.4mi
      'If you think you can or think you can't, you're right' -Henry Ford

      Clean socks and clean shoes are all I need to make me happy. I do
      before anything else and then relax in a chair, while Paul and the aid
      station crew take care of me. Ensure and Red Bull chased by chicken
      noodle soup and a burrito. Steve Patillo's here already and Marc comes
      in just before we leave. Feeling much better than just a short time ago,
      we start up Grouse Gulch. I can see lights hundreds of feet above us,
      switchbacks for a good long ways. Marc blows by as we slowly climb. The
      switches finally end but not the ascent. We move more directly up the
      gulch, following the sound of rushing water. Leaving the trail, we cross
      wet tundra to another trail further up the left face, and continue in
      the same direction. Aiming for the ridge line and the saddle, we slow as
      it gets steeper, passing 12000 feet. Crossing a snow bank, we switch
      back a few times, then top out on 13000 foot Grouse-American Pass just
      as the sun rises. Taking a short break, I point out our route to Paul,
      while I drink the Ensure flask with high hopes it'll give me energy for
      the climb up Handies. We follow the flags in a ragged pattern round
      boulders and off ledges down into the American Basin. Numerous trails
      crisscross the basin, but our flag route follows none of them. Snow's
      down to a minimum, the ground soggy with melt. Paul's feeling pretty
      good, enjoying the hike, and lets fly while going uphill with a rousing
      rendition of America the Beautiful. The boy really gets into it and
      wails it out. No sooner is he done than a spattering of distance
      applause can be heard from the face of Handies. We cross another bottom,
      round a large buildup and then turn away from Handies. The trail climbs
      up and away, then switches higher and comes across the upper wall of
      American Basin before crossing a large rock flow and then mounting the
      base of Handies for the first of many switchbacks. Steve Patillo catches
      us here and visits for just a bit. Says he's tired of running alone and
      would love to have some company for awhile. Unfortunately, we're two
      completely different kind of runners and there's slim chance of company
      from me. I ask him to please not wait on us, but he promises to wait at
      Burrows Park, and then moves easily up and away. We keep moving, however
      slow, but the snail's pace keeps us on the face forever. Cresting the
      high saddle at 13000 feet, we catch a breather and start anew. The shade
      that kept us to this point hidden from the sun, releases a blinding
      light down on us for the first time today. I begin to sweat while my
      hands grow cold from the wind. I slip on my gloves, take them off, and
      put them back on. I need something to just cover my fingertips, the only
      part of my body that's cold. I keep slugging it out, punch drunk, and
      brain dead, leaning on the wind, and snailing upwards. Following a sugar
      trail to the top, a line of ants marches above me, another line below. I
      can almost hear the drums. The wind is blasting hard and cold under a
      clear blue sky as we scramble hand and foot up a steep dirt chute
      surrounded by tundra. This leads to another and another, until the final
      short curl to the summit at 14000 feet. A photographer shoots our
      progress using really slow thin film. We don't waste a step, rolling
      right across and off the other side. The narrow rocky rib we dance
      across leads to a steep descent strewn with big chunks of broken rock.
      Fall left for American Basin or right for Grizzly Gulch. The proper lean
      right now determines where they'll find my body. Inches extrapolate into
      miles. Paul decides it's a good time to sing Leon Russel's Tightrope,
      'One side ice - the other fire'. The trail snakes down, occasionally
      splitting into alternate routes, each side short and equal distance. We
      slide, sprint, hop, and fall for a hundred yards or better until
      spinning off to the right for a series of switchbacks leading into
      Grizzly Gulch. Were moving fast, and are surprised to have a fellow come
      up from behind and stick with us clean down to the meadow. The three of
      us pass another trio at the end of the rock flow, where we change gears
      and go faster. The main tourist trail to Burrows Park is worn down and
      very quick, a pastoral setting with clear creeks and tall trees. We
      blast on down, passing Lisa Richardson, but keeping the silent fellow
      just back of us. Really flying now, there's something that doesn't feel
      just right, but I can't figure it out. Something hanging just on the
      edge. Don't have time for 'kinda-sorta feelings' so I ignore it,
      thinking it's just one of the many such feelings that will either go
      away or bite me later. Attempting to get around a couple, we're forced
      to slow. They ask how far to the aid station at Burrows Park. I tell
      them there isn't one and it stuns them. They stop cold and start a
      heated discussion, while we sprint by. I guess they missed the final
      briefing. Burrows park at last, Steve Patillo's at the stream filling
      his water bottle under the log that we cross. Sitting in the shade of
      the bathroom on the concrete, I check my feet. Paul re-wraps the hot
      spots. The other discomfort becomes painfully clear in a nasty way. I
      have diarrhea. My shorts get washed out in the stream and then I slide
      the freezing cold threads back onto my sorry butt. What an ugly piece of
      work. While we kill a lot of precious time, Steve and quite a few others
      cross over and disappear down the road. Medicated, clean, frozen, and
      uncomfortable, I waddle on down the road just in time to greet the jeep
      caravans coming up. The rising sun begins to dethaw and then roast my
      hide, while we dodge jeeps by the dozens. Some of these folks drive
      right at what they're looking at, because they seem to be looking right
      at me when they force me off the road. It's hard to pass the easy off
      road detour. The ribbons that I helped put in just a week ago are still
      there. I know this is downhill, but it doesn't feel like it. Must be me.
      I don't feel well and slow to a crawl. Another wasted downhill. I'm
      bonking bad, trying to keep moving. Conversation becomes difficult, my
      mind wandering. Memories tumble one atop the other, helter skelter.
      Can't seem to hold a thought or put two words together. Reduced to yea,
      no, and uh, which covers everything else. Finally hitting bottom and
      turning right, we drag along past the old flooded town of Sherman, the
      bridge, and then the aid station. I slink in, dragging my butt. Fred and
      Paige Fletcher, like angels of mercy, swoop down and nurse me back to
      health. They've laid out a kings breakfast for me of pancakes, eggs,
      calzone, juice, Gatorade, and so on. I can't eat half of it, but I try.
      Ensure and Red Bull top it off. They pack two flasks of Ensure while I
      change shorts and socks. 'What's that on your legs?', Fred asks. 'Oh, I
      been kickin' tha hell out of myself for some time now'. Bruised badly,
      they're just starting to bleed. Both legs from calf to inside shin have
      multiple lacerations and are swollen ala Popeye. I'm thinking the skunk
      cabbage is really spinach and my legs are feeding on it. I'm trying to
      kick my butt to go faster but I can only get my feet that high. Climbing
      these damn mountains my feet try to find anything that doesn't move so I
      climb my own legs. Dr. Paul tapes 'em up, wrapping both legs. I better
      hurry or I'll be lookin' like the mummy before long. While I'm basking
      in food and fine friends, Lisa walks in and says she's done, never
      loosing her glorious smile.

      Sherman to Pole Creek- 80.1mi
      'Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend' -Diogenes

      Spending way too much time on getting nowhere, but totally
      we load up and move out. Crossing the creek via log, we start up
      Cataract Gulch. Another log crossing follows along with a group of
      people and pacers not certain of the route. No flags line this section,
      but I confirm that this is indeed the correct way. A group of eight
      moves slowly uphill on the switchbacks, the sound of crashing water near
      to our right. We continue up for miles, crossing the creek below and
      again above a majestic waterfall. I'm pleased to finally see some flags
      again, as this section is confusing. Crossing again and again, until a
      treeless field of broken rocks. We wander along a trail that seems to go
      in odd directions at odd times. I would never have chosen the route the
      flags lead us on, and have no idea which valley or rise we go after
      next. Joe in wonderland, searching for the correct rabbit hole, but only
      finding the Mad Hatter. Gordon Hardman completes the illusion, striding
      back to us from the wrong direction. 'What's going on', I ask?
      'Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug', he says and
      keeps on walking. I've gone completely loony. A trip into the bushes
      helps bring back reality quickly and painfully. The rain's light but
      steady as we continue up to the lakes. Takes a good long time to finally
      reach them above 12000 feet. Past the lakes, the trail turns slightly
      downhill and we let the air out a little as we spin on down. Dropping
      off trail and dodging shrubs, we descend cross country and navigate
      through a marsh. Onto a whisper of trail hugged the right flank, we roll
      along for miles and finally hit bottom. Crossing a creek, we hike up and
      into Pole Creek aid station and settle into a chair for a cup of broth.

      Pole Creek to Maggie Gulch- 84.6mi
      'Resolve to perform what you ought, then perform without fail what
      resolve' - Franklin

      Minutes only, time to down one of my Ensure flasks and then off
      strait towards a pole on the empty plain. The trail begins at the pole
      and follows just like the last one, on the right flank leading slightly
      down. This one undulates a bit more, but hovers around 12000 feet for
      the length of it. Riding up high and then dropping down into a large
      plain. We aim diagonally to another pole on the other side of the
      valley, crossing a creek surrounded by shoe sucking mud. Almost to the
      trees covering the lower slope, the trail by the post turns right and
      away from the trees. This dips down and up, weaving round bush and
      creek, dropping into deep cuts and back out again. We follow the contour
      partly, but then there are only certain spots that the creek can be
      crossed. Heading more directly for our pass across the Continental
      Divide, we make directly up and across the lower hills. The trail gets
      messier as we get higher and steeper. I've been studying Paul these last
      few mountains, trying to figure out how he climbs so effortlessly. Some
      of these guys live at altitude but Paul's from San Diego and not nearly
      as acclimated as I am. He manages his breathing pattern such that he has
      a strong forced exhale on every other step. Wouldn't hurt to try. As
      slow as I am, I've no place to go but up. I start as soon as the slope
      gets steep and move slowly but steadily, focusing on my breathing. It
      seems to help as I continue to climb without loosing my wind or feeling
      the need to catch my breath. I continue to control my breath as we cross
      some snow and the trail turns to road, and back to trail again. Excited
      that I can keep going and trying to keep from getting excited and
      loosing my control. I push the pace clean to the top without stopping
      once and can't believe how effortless it was. Granted, it's just a tad
      under 13000 feet, but this is a new first for me and I'm flipping out
      with enthusiasm. Paul cheers me on, glad to see me doing well, both of
      us recalling what I was like back at Sherman. The descent into Maggie
      Gulch is a screamer, as the sky opens up and begins to dump hard on us.
      Paul and I fly, catching Eric Hodges and Marc again. " I wondered if you
      were gonna catch me again?', Marc shouts as I slide by in the thundering
      wind and rain. I hit the road just behind his pacer and race him to the
      shelter. Paul and Marc follow close behind, along with Eric.

      Maggie Gulch to Cunningham Gulch- 91.3mi
      'Perseverance is a great element of success. If you knock long
      at the gate, you're sure to awaken someone' -Longfellow

      The small enclosure's over-full with people, no room to sit down, or
      turn around. Hastily, they erect a side flap to keep the wind and rain
      from drenching everything inside. Lightening rumbles through the valley
      and folks are talking about waiting out the storm. Slipping into rain
      pants, I drink my last flask of Ensure, top my water and head back out.
      'I'm going up'. This is my kind of weather. I do so much better when
      it's cool. If I can get up this next mountain while it's raining, I'll
      do much better than in the heat. Hoping the lightning and hail will be
      gone before we reach the summit, Paul and I quickly move up the
      switchbacks in the pouring rain and flashing clouds. Chuck was in the
      shelter when we arrived and comes with us. I try my breathing pattern
      again and quickly move up the face, crossing the soggy tundra. Charlie's
      laid out a different route than the one we marked. I'm confused by the
      route, but blindly following the markers strait up the face and over to
      the rock outcrop. We march strait up and onto the promontory and wait
      for Chuck. He joins us soon after and then we beat time up the backbone
      and across the top of the next rise to 13000. Still breathing well, we
      sprint down the high meadow on the far side, through the rain and
      flowers to the base of the next rise. 'Which way would you like to
      try?', Paul asks. 'Just like the flags, strait up', and we fairly charge
      up the face on the final climb up Buffalo Boy and the meadow beyond. A
      lone grave stone marks a plot just off the grassy jeep road, we sprint
      by, then pull up for a quick change. My socks are soaked and I have dry
      socks for the long descent we're about to run. With my toes wrapped in
      warmth and comfort, we pick up and begin to roll. The storm's gone and
      it's going to get hot on this long downhill run, so we stop at the
      Buffalo Boy Mine long enough to strip off our rain gear, extra shirts,
      and gloves. Blowing and going, double time down the jeep road, rolling
      through Rocky Gulch on down to Cunningham Creek. We hit the road in the
      heat, soaking of sweat, and slowly begin to walk up the road to the last
      station. In no hurry to trash myself on this road, we saunter up the
      road easily, discussing life, love, and HardRock. One more mountain and
      I'm anxious to get to it. This next one's a real long mother and I'm
      curious if I can maintain a climb for that long.

      Cunningham Gulch to Silverton- 100mi
      'Slow and steady win the race' - Aesop

      Cunningham aid station: the last hurrah. We find it alive with
      and filled with friends. Reinhold Baues is making ready for his final
      climb as well. I drink an Ensure and another Red Bull, but leave
      everything else in my drop. Gotta go! Nothing here that says 'FINISH
      LINE'. We bid adieu and escape. Somebody has lain a steel girder across
      the creek, so we start with dry feet. Passing across a rough field of
      scrub and rock, we cross the small stream at the base of the waterfall
      and mount the face. I shift quickly into my breathing pattern and harbor
      grand hopes to climb to the top with good speed. The waterfall is a
      couple hundred feet strait up and we ride switchbacks to the top of it
      easily. Reinhold is just below, being paced by Ginny's daughter Celeste.
      Beyond the waterfall, it doesn't get any easier. The second tier is long
      sweeping switchbacks. Short steep climbs at each turn are followed by
      more gentle sweeps between them. Above this level, we reach the upper
      basin, which begins with a table which we spin round to the right face
      and mount our final charge. We stop once to admire the view, but
      otherwise continue to move up easily. We enter tundra, stepping upwards
      from tuft to tuft, rock to rock, as we follow the flags strait up and
      across. They become increasingly difficult to see as the sun drops low
      and the light begins to fade. I'm thinking we still have a ways to go,
      when I realize we are as high as we're going on this climb. The mountain
      continues to rise well above us, but the trail I've just landed on wraps
      around to the right. We're on top of the Dives-Little Giant Pass at
      13000 feet. The last of the mountain passes. It is all but done! Nothing
      but net! No place to go but down, so we get after it, with another duo
      hot on our heals. We start across the mountain side to a narrow saddle,
      when Paul stops. Something big and low moves the shadows in front of us,
      but I'm blind as a bat. Paul sees it and says it's a cat. We cross over
      onto King Solomon Mountain and descend into Little Giant Basin on the
      rocky trail carved into it's side, when Paul sees it again. He says it's
      moving down the trail in front of us, but I'm blind and dumb, and keep
      on rolling. Never having seen a thing, I keep on bouncing down the rocky
      trail, into the scrub and boulder fields. Dancing left and right,
      without lights, barely making out the trail, and seeing flags only as we
      pass them. A panorama of light stretches across the horizon, between
      cloud and mountain, lasting long enough to light our path down to the
      jeep road. On the road, we extract lights, and blast away, hammering
      down the road. The lights of Silverton in the distance, I can already
      smell the barn, but don't know that I can possible go any faster.
      Reaching the road in Arrastra and then the road to the campgrounds,
      somebody lightly applauds as we pass some tents and cross Arrastra
      Creek. We follow a road, then another, and another. A trail finally
      after a creek, followed by many more creeks and mud bogs. Slogging up
      streams, in and out of water, but I'm fairly used to wet feet by now. I
      catch my old friend Mike Price and it takes me completely by surprise.
      I'd thought he was long gone. He's following close on the heels of a
      small band of folks, but pulls in with us as we swing past the lot of
      them. Mike says he got beat up in the hail storm above Maggie Gulch, but
      now he's a bit overdressed and heating up with our quicker pace. He
      stops to remove some clothes and get more comfortable, while we keep
      going and his light disappears behind us. This section seems to go on
      forever, but does eventually climb up to a road and then another short
      trail before slipping out of the trees and down to town. The road into
      town is dark and our lights don't seem to work well. I can't see a
      thing, but I do know that I have to turn left one block after the paved
      road. Paul stops traffic for me as I run across Green Street, turn left
      on Reese. I can barely stand the excitement. My eyes well up and my
      throat constricts. Hard to believe I still get worked up and excited
      about running into town. The last turn at the Gym is filled with cars
      and people. Fred and Paige are there too. I dance round the cars, slip
      up to the HardRock, rub my body against it, and plant a kiss. Dale
      shakes my hand. It is done. We are done.

      1 26:39:35 Karl Meltzer
      2 28:42:00 Hans Put
      3 29:58:00 Betsy Kalmeyer
      4 30:05:02 Jan Fiala
      5 30:12:40 Jonathan Worswick
      6 30:27:45 Scott Gordon
      7 30:40:38 Ruth Zollinger
      8 31:40:00 Kirk Apt
      9 31:59:50 Tom Hayes
      10 32:41:50 Tyler Curiel
      11 32:59:02 Roch Horton
      12 33:17:25 Tom Garrison
      13 33:30:59 Blake Wood
      14 33:48:53 Betsy Nye
      15 34:02:36 Tim Cannon
      16 34:39:59 Scott Eppelman
      17 35:14:04 Scott Mills
      18 35:28:12 John Robinson
      19 35:47:41 Elizabeth McGoff
      20 35:51:21 Randy Isler
      21 35:55:12 Edward Boggess
      22 36:36:33 Todd Salzer
      23 36:45:12 Dan Tranel
      24 37:42:55 Charles Thorn
      25 37:43:03 Jeff Holdaway
      26 39:52:35 John DeWalt
      27 39:56:28 Thomas Knutson
      28 40:00:48 Jeff Collins
      29 40:07:58 Mike Farris
      30 40:35:07 Mike Ehrlich
      31 40:47:48 Joe Prusaitis
      32 40:51:38 Mike Price
      33 40:58:10 Carl Jess
      34 40:58:10 Keith Baker
      35 40:59:10 Kristen Kern
      36 41:04:20 Jerry Gray
      37 41:14:11 Steve Pero
      38 41:37:19 Reinhold Baues
      39 42:13:12 Chuck Kroger
      40 42:42:36 Edward Strickland
      41 42:59:55 Nigel Finney
      42 43:05:56 Kirk Boisseree
      43 43:11:27 Steve Pattillo
      44 43:15:07 Mike Dobies
      45 43:48:36 Don Platt
      46 43:48:42 Murray Schart
      47 44:27:58 Kevin Taverner
      48 44:29:38 Martin Miller
      49 44:34:53 Rickie Redland
      50 44:54:29 Dick Curtis
      51 45:00:03 Matt Mahoney
      52 45:17:15 Eric Hodges
      53 45:21:42 Mark Witkes
      54 45:33:29 Mark Heaphy
      55 45:33:29 Margaret Heaphy
      56 45:40:40 Leslie Trammell
      57 45:47:47 Max Welker
      58 46:06:58 Ulrich Kamm
      59 46:21:27 Kerry Collings
      60 46:21:27 Duane Nelson
      61 46:36:42 David King
      62 46:37:49 Todd Burgess
      63 46:54:46 Rollin Perry
      64 46:55:25 James Ballard
      65 48:01:11 Randall Dunn
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