Monday, July 27, 2009

Mission Trails Hero, Part 2

So, my goal on Sunday, after two days of partying with my favorite pseudo super heroes and manga loving perverted old men was to crank out 3 laps of my course. Unfortunately, with guests in town, I didn't get out there until 1:40 PM. By that time, the temps were in the mid-90's. Gulp. So I loaded up my pack with 4 bottles and off I went. I was at the saddle in 35 minutes, which is my first goal, but things started to go downhill from there. With the heat from the clay soil baking my face like a piece of tandoori chickent, my legs got heavy and my bottles got emptier. I believe I had the early symptoms of heat sickness, getting lighthead and nauseous. My pace slowed to a crawl as I forced myself over South Fortuna and down the backside through Oak Canyon to the car. Ah, sweet AC. I had gone through 100 oz of liquid in 2 hours and 20 min.

With 60 oz . of water left, having spent 20 min bringing my temps down in the AC, I headed out again, with the temperature having dropped to a chilly 89 degrees. The second lap actually went better than the first. I made it around again in the same time, 2 hours 20 min., which tells me that a lot of that first lap was problems with the heat, not my legs, so that was good.

My adventure this time was on the second lap. As I came through Oak Creek Canyon, I ran into a lady and her dog. The woman was obviously upset and kept shifting from one foot to another. "There's a snake up there," she said, "and it won't move."
"What kind?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said. Since she didn't say rattlesnake, I figured it was probably a king snake or gopher snake coming out. Wrong. On the thinnest section of trail in the whole park sat a 2 foot ornery rattler, easily the orneriest one I've ever come across. The woman said she had thrown some rocks at it. Well, again, rattlers move when disturbed, so she must have hysterically chucked some gravel at it and missed.

I'll take care of this, I figured, picking up a baseball sized rock. An underhanded lob and PLOP it landed right on his midsection. The snake did not budge. I couldn't believe it. I picked up another and threw it with some velocity, nailing it again. Again, it held its position, rattle going full speed. There was no way around this guy either. The trail was probably 18 inches wide, and he was smack in the middle of it. We could have gone back over a hill, but I thought I could take care of it.

Looking around, I found a dead tree branch, about 4 foot long with some branched at the end. I picked it up and used it as a snake handling stick, entangling the snake in the twigs at the end and then lifting him off the trail. As I did so, he struck 4 TIMES at the branch, the whole thing shaking each time with the violence of his bite. Finally, I used the stick to trap the snake and urged the lady to come through while I still had control.

Unfortunately, the lady had freaked out by this point and froze right behind me.
"How sure are you that you have it?" she asked.
"Well, ninety-five percent sure." Wrong answer. She wouldn't budge. Finally, I picked the snake up again and forced it another two feet up the hill, but I could see him squirming.
"Lady," I said, "this is it. Now or never." She finally went behind me as I used the stick and my body to shield her and her dog. Then I left that crabby snake to himself and picked up my run home with some extra pep in my step.

Never a dull moment at Mission Trails. Tomorrow will be a double ascent of Monserate, which is 1200 feet of gain over a little less than 2 miles, then a run down the ridge, a few hundred more feet of up just for a kick in the pants, then all the way down to start one more time. Think it will be a good one. A lot like Fred's, and it will be hot, but I've done it before, and its not too bad, just steady. Again, good practice for Fred's and the rest of the race. Wednesday will be speed work, probably in the canyon, while Thursday will be an easy day. Loose plan is to get up to the mountains on Sunday for a San Gorgonio climb. We'll see how that goes.

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