3:00am: It all started with stress (not new) and a need to release it (the healthy way). Because I had access to a car, I could go climb a mountain, aka, a 14er. I got up, did a little cleaning before I left and then headed up to Estes Park, Colorado.
5:15am: Arrived at Longs Peak Trailhead and took a cat nap in the car.
5:45am: Packed backpack, bathroom, changed into climbing clothes (it's always cold on the mountain!)
6:15am: Sun was just starting to rise as I set off on the trail (9400'). Nothing better than watching a sunrise on the mountain! I had ran this section of the trail in June so I was familiar with the section till the split at Chasm Trail junction (11,550'). I was making good time and was happy about this. It's about 7 miles one way with 5100 feet of climbing into thin air.
9:15am: Approached Keyhole route and began to ascend. There were some rangers who were rebuilding some campsites. This section is called Boulder Field. Lots of big boulders with plenty of hopping and picking your way across the field.
10:15am: My original goal to reach the summit in about 4 hours. This would've been doable had it not been for the Keyhole section. I didn't know just how challenging this Class 3 would be. I was climbing by myself. A few times I wondered if I should turn around and do this with at least a climbing partner. Some the drops were intense. My heart stayed in my throat for hours. (For more photos of what this section really looks like, visit this page.)
11:00am: I reached the last section of the Trough right before The Narrows section. There was this MASSIVE boulder with seemingly no way around it. I probably spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to get up the stupid thing. I finally managed to shimmy my way up it and reached The Narrows. They were equally as scary.
11:15am: A few people pass me descending as I am ascending. I ask them how in the world do you get up this thing?! Climbing like a monkey up a 14, 000 foot mountain with air beneath you is a little frightening.
11:30am: I finally reach the summit and shout for joy! I was so thrilled to reach it. I didn't spend much time on the summit as I knew the descent would be equally as challenging. After a few photos, a sip of water and a glance at the the clouds, I started the descent. There are two rules of the mountain. No.1) Summit and descend before noon. No.2) Summiting is only half of the battle, descending can be equally as challenging. As this was my 15th summit, I knew how true this was.
12:30pm: I made the descent down The Narrows and The Trough. I passed 2 groups of people and we all said how challenging it was. My heart was still in my throat. I was trying to reach the Keyhole as quickly as possible.
2:00pm: I finally reached the Boulder Field and I could see lightning and storms out in the distance. I was a few miles from tree line and I wanted to get there as quickly as I could. Being exposed on a mountain and you are the tallest thing around 2 miles up in the sky is not a good thing. The rangers were packing up and getting ready to also head down.
2:15pm: I finally reached a questionable run-able section and decided to do a little run down the mountain. The rocks were slick and as I running from rock to rock I slipped off a rock and crumbled. I got right back up and hopped on my foot and resorted to a walk. The sky was reminding me and about 30 other people that mountains share no respect for anyone.
2:30pm: The storms moved in and rain began to pound me and the trail became a cold river. I had a poncho so quickly put that on. The wind was gusty so I had to hold the thin plastic hood with my hand to keep it on my head. My right was bothering me but I wasn't focused on it. I was focused on getting to tree line ASAP. My heart was racing with lightning right above my head. Indeed scary. I glanced back and saw the rangers flying off the mountain.
3:30pm: It seemed like the end would never come. I was exhausted, hungry, thirsty. I wanted to be done NOW. I was soaked everywhere except for my torso. Descending in a river only made the trek that much more adventurous. And tiring.
3:45pm: I reached the trail head and was never so happy to be done. Safe. Not sure about soundly. 9.5 hours on the mountain is a long day. I take off my wet, dirty clothes and trade them for some warm ones. I made my plant-based recovery shake and started the drive back.
4:10pm: I'm driving along and out of no where pain hits so intensely I almost pass out and feel like throwing up. I'm dizzy and can barely drive. My right foot/ankle was in incredible pain. I had to use my left foot to drive and I think I looked like I was driving drunk. I was trying my best to stay safe.
4:45pm: I made it to the outskirts of Boulder and pulled over into the first shopping center I saw. I parked the car and cried in pain. It was horrendous. I tried to elevate it but that was impossible. I'm a pretty tough gal but this pain had me screaming for dear life. I called a friend for some advice.
5:45pm: I try to drive again and it is very clear that it is not safe. I pull over again and ask some friends to come get me. I thought I had a broken foot. The pain was VERY intense.
8:00pm: Friends picked me and took me to the ER, checked in and began the long wait. I couldn't drink water incase they had to sedate me. I was so thirsty! And sweaty, hungry, tired. And in pain. A lot of pain.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
12:15am: After 4+hours of waiting, I finally get a room. (Also, for the record, the waiting room has some very interesting people.) After a quick check I was off for X-rays. Also of note, my heart rate was 50. For just getting down a mountain, I was happy about this! Sign of quick recovery and eating a real food diet!
3:00am: The verdict is in. No break, but tore ligaments in it. They put me in a soft cast and gave me crutches. With instructions to not be on my feet for 3 (THREE!!!!) days! I nearly cried at that. Resting is not something I do well. I train for a living. Not being able to sweat and move my body made me very sad. Sitting still is not something in my vocabulary! But the charge nurse and doctor begged me to follow the instructions. And I really had no choice. The pain was not letting me put full weight on it anyway.
3:45am: Arrive home and with a Percocet in my system I fall asleep right away. No wonder people become addicted to pain meds! It was a long 24+ hours. Very long.
10:15am: I woke up and couldn't believe what time it was! I don't take any meds (not even Advil) so my body reacted to the Percocet all day long. So glad I don't have to take meds on a daily basis!
Conclusion: I'm thankful I made it up and down the mountain safely with getting struck by lightning. Also grateful for friends who came and got me. With another summit on my growing 14er summit list; I am happy. I am also itching to get back on the trail, in the weight room, on my yoga mat. Patience grasshopper, patience.
In the meantime I have a bottle of turmeric powder in my hand (fantastic inflammatory property).