We arrived at Skull Hollow camp area for Black Saturday at 7:45 for our 8 a.m. meeting with Jeff! When we parked we noticed Sean's car but no Sean....he was already out running. Jeff and Rod showed up right at 8 a.m. and guided us to the trail head and with very little warm up we were off for out 2000 foot climb to the top of Grey Butte. Within about 10 minutes those fast guys were way ahead of us but we plowed forward climbing the steep grade as hard as we could. This climb was more gentle at the beginning than our general spots here in Portland but it got steeper in the end forcing us to do some power hiking at times. The surface was an old road covered with rocks which is good training for Bighorn. The weather was slightly overcast so the views would not be spectacular but it was plenty warm enough. I arrived at the top in 47 minutes and felt pretty good about that time and effort. We took a couple of pictures then blasted downhill back to the car. We ran this downhill fast and since it was steep at the top half it made for some great quad smashing. When we got back to the car Sean, Rod and Jeff had already headed out again but took another steeper trail up to the summit. We stayed on the same route and worked together dragging ourselves up the second time. For me this was a tough repeat because I over did my tempo workout on prior Thursday and it left my hikers fatigued. I knew I would pay for those sub 7 minute paces but wouldn't change it if I could. I had to walk more on the second repeat but was able to get to the summit in only 1.5 minutes behind my prior climb. Just as we were about to hit the top Jeff and Rod came blazing by us heading downhill and back to the car. I ran down well but I would have to say it wasn't a speed attempt. My legs were not turning as fast as they did on the first descent but it was still a good clip. Jeff and Rod had once again made it down, turned around and headed back up for another but chose to only go half way. They were moving! Once finished we soaked our feet in the cattle troughs, chatted, exchanged stories and headed out for lunch. Our families came into Terreboone and Jeff and his family met us at The Depot which is cute pub. Jeff had created a amazing map of our Sunday route with all his markers embedded on it. It is a prize possession for sure. We studied the map over lunch....well mostly Steve studied the map. :) We planned to start our 28 mile run with 7100 feet of climbing at 7:30 a.m. and Jeff and Krissy were starting at 10:00 a.m. As we talked the idea of catching us lit up Jeff like a Christmas tree. We talked about how long we thought we could do the run and he knows how long it takes him.......kind of like name that tune.....I can name it in 2 notes....remember??? We added time for route finding since we had no clue where we were going and he thought he would be able to catch us. He had to adjust his starting time to 9:30 so he called Krissy right then and there and the chase game was on! I didn't feel the least bit deflated needing a 2 hour head start from these talented runners. :)
Sunday came fast and I was like a drill sergent with the group. We had to drop Trisha and Darin's car off at Smith Rocks before we started because they were ending their run there. By the time we arrived at our starting point we were 5 minutes late! The weather was less than nice but warm. The sky's were covered with clouds which meant we would have zero views and no real heat....darn. We left with full packs including 60 oz of water each. This was heavy and it took about 3 miles for my body to adapt to the additional weight. Since I generally like to run lite I felt the heavy pack but I was surprised at how fast my body adapted and I just simply forgot about it. We felt we needed at least 60oz to get us from Skull Hollow camp ground to Smith Rocks where we could re-fuel. In hindsight with the cooler weather I only needed 40 oz but if it had been hot I would have been running dry for sure on 60 oz. We forget how much water we have here in our Gorge. It is never an issue and with a filter you can easily run with one water bottle most all year long......not here! There is NO water except the springs and cow troughs which we were told to stay far away from even with a filter. Our first summit was Grey Butte again but up the other side which was much steeper. We were socked in at the top with heavy mist and couldn't even see the towers until we were right on top of them. The trail was a rocky 2 track all the way to the summit. After the summit it was downhill all the way to Coles trail where we took that through Cougar Canyon (as Jeff calls it....there is a dead cow from cougar kill). Here we encountered amazing mud for about 1/2 mile. It was so caked on our feet we could barely move and the mud would not come off. We were all laughing our heads off at the platform running shoes and hoped it would end soon. Steve continue to lead us perfectly through this wilderness and maze of trails/roads/cow paths. With no landmarks in view because of the low lying clouds it was amazing how he knew exactly where to go. After Cougar Canyon we caught a gravel road up to Burma Saddle. All of us should have run this road but it was tough and I had a hard time turning my legs fast enough so it made sense to just run/walk/power hike my way to to the top. At the saddle we were on the outskirts of Smith Rocks and could see the parking area but we had to go all the way back down to the river on the back side and climb out way up to Monkey Face. We took a steep trail down hill and when I say steep I mean steep! We slid and scooted our way down until we got on a more reasonable grade which wound us down to the river. After that descent it was back up but now we were in Smith Rocks climbing our way up and over Monkey Face...the well know wall rock climbers like to tackle. This trail switchbacked up the hill and the rock formations were amazing. It was like we were suddenly transported into the Grand Canyon. Once at the top it was a series of stair steps most of the way down into the parking lot. Tons of tourists were heading up the trail as we were coming down. We re-fueled at Trisha and Darin's car and were off for the last section home but were wondering how long it would be before we felt the heat of Jeff and Krissy. We took the river trail around the park to another dirt road that climbed back to Burma Saddle but on the other side. It was neat to feel a sense of confidence as to where we were. Knowing the general direction we were heading and where we had been was a cool feeling. After we arrived at Burma again we took a side trail up hill leading us to The Scar. The Scar is a very steep but short climb to the top of Eagles Roost. This climb is talked about among the Central Oregon runners because on two people have ever been able to run it. It's rocky and very steep! Of course we not going skip it and we actually did a good job climbing it. I felt super strong on it but I think it might have something to do with my low center of gravity. :) We hoofed up it and headed over to summit for the view but it was socked in and cold up there. We took a picture and headed off in hurry knowing Krissy and Jeff had to be getting close. With our route finding, pictures, making arrows and not really busting pace it was just a matter of time before they got us. As we descended we came to an intersection that was not outlined on our description and we took a wrong turn. Steve quickly stopped, thought for about a minute and said, "We are going the wrong way". He got no arguments from Micheal and I since we had no idea where we were. We got ourselves corrected and were on way back to Grey Butte via a ridge trail. This was some awesome running with a very slight downhill grade we boogied to the base of our last climb. Jeff told us this route had two options. 1. The Big Balls option. OR 2. No balls option. The Big Balls option meant we needed to summit Grey Butte one more time and the No Balls option was to just go straight back to the car. Of course we were NOT going to do the small balls option so we ditched our packs, took one water bottle and headed up. We climbed this well and kept a good pace knowing we were coming to end of the run and there was no sign of Jeff and Krissy. We got the summit and coming up the other side was Curt and Barb Ringstad. Wow, what a coincidence! We chatted for a minute then we all headed down hill. After about 1 minute we see Jeff and Krissy coming up! They were moving and before we knew it they summited and were busting past us but Steve gave them a chase. It only lasted for about a minute then they were gone. We finished the last 2 miles and came into Skull Hollow campground feeling very satisfied. It was truly an awesome run with tons of good climbing and running on varied terrain. The landscape was really neat and I am sure the views are awesome on a clear day. We will be back for more!
Back at camp it was never dull as the kids ran around, biked, swam and collected enough tumbleweeds to fill a dump truck. Alex leashed a big tumbleweed to his bike and drug it around the campground....why????.....I have no idea. Bill and Steve played golf but really were interested in the beer delivery but kept getting disappointed when the lady passed them by. On Monday Darin hooked up with Jeff and Krissy for another run while Bill and Steve did a short run in Smith Rocks. The kids took all their tumbleweeds and threw them off the ridge into the crooked river. When the kids got tired of carrying their tumbleweeds all they way to the look out they leashed them up to the dogs and had them drag them over to the dump sight. Very ingenious little people they are.
That was the end of a Build week and I feel pretty strong. I wasn't too beat up from the weekend so there are no excuses to bail on any of this weeks workouts. This is a Build II week and this weekend will be another back to back fest and I can't wait!