Monday, March 7, 2011

Quitter's Highway March 5, 2011

Me, Steve, Hiram (thanks Ed)
  "I came, I saw, It conquered."
  December 8th, I sent an email to Laz inquiring about a race and while I was at it, I asked about helping to bury the books at the Barkley course.  I had read the book, read blogs, heard the stories, and I was curious to see for myself what exactly that course was truly about.  It sounded exhilarating, but terrifying.  I didn't think anything else about it until I received an email on February 21 titled "Frozen Head State Park." 
so we are looking at the weekend of march 5-6-7 (week after next) if you are still interested...laz
Being Laz, I double checked- is that the book set out?  Yes.  Okay- let me check w/ hubster.  Before I do anything I always check with the spousal unit because if its not good with hubby, can't be good with me.  He's only said flat out no twice (boxing and women's football-not touch).  Yep- sounds fine to him.  A few more flurries of emails and some trips to the store for snacks and a sleeping bag.  I originally planned to sleep in my truck, but I accepted the offer of a couch most readily when given.
  One of my goals this year was to not worry so much about what people think and not too be so hard on myself.  I usually say the wrong thing and then worry about how people take it (like calling a coworker stout when in my eyes that was a compliment because she was a gymnast) .  So I'm trying only to worry about my immediate family and what Jesus thinks.  Also, I'm trying to not be a mouse.  I am kind of hard hearing (hub calls me wooden ear), so when I meet new people and I don't hear them the conversation dies fast, or I don't let it begin because I stink at meeting new people.  So this weekend was a good trial for me.  I only knew Laz and Steve Durbin (RD of LBL and RUTS).  Even the house I was staying at, I didn't know the couple.  All that worrying for nothing.  Karl and Cathy Henn were most warm and welcoming.  Like I said, I slept on the couch while all the gentlemen slept on the floor.  
 I left Corydon in pouring rain, ran into one wreck, but the clouds eventually gave way and I made pretty good time.  It only took a little over 4 hours to reach the Henn household.  They had a bonfire that we got to enjoy under the beautiful Tennessee evening.  I also met Stu Gleman, Frozen Ed Furtaw, and Kyle Henn. The plan was to meet Steve and Hiram at Jones grocery the next morning.  So we finally settled in at midnight.  I woke up the next morning around 5 needing to go to the bathroom, but no one else was up.  So I laid for over an hour

Strategic planning
squirming, trying to go back to sleep, before Karl came through the living room.  You know the movie where the girl baseball players time Tom Hanks when he's peeing.  That's how I started my morning.  Pretty soon everyone was up and stirring.  I was apprehensive, but nervously excited.  I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the runners and I knew Ed was reallywanting to get some training in.  We made it to Jones Grocery and went in for sandwiches.  Steve, Hiram, and Davey Henn showed up and we were about ready to head for the Park.  Frozen Head State Park- the place of Barkley Marathons.  I was about to see it.  After some more planning with vehicles, we were off.  Ed rode with me and Steve and
Steve, Hiram, Ed
Hiram rode together as we headed to the Trail Head.  Thankfully, the bath house was open so I was able to go to the bathroom before we began hiking.  That was about as much strategic planning that I did at Jones Grocery.  I was under the assumption that we were going to hike about 8 miles,  which would take about 4 hours.  So I left my sandwich and lemonade in my truck thinking we'd be back to the truck around lunchtime before heading off to another site to hide a book.  We had one book and because I had the biggest backpack, I carried it.  I felt very honored in a very silly way, but I didn't care I was gonna have some fun.  Or so I thought.  Hoped.
  We headed from the trailhead up to Big Cove Campground where
Bird Mountain Trail
the yellow gate awaits.  The start of the Barkley.  Where legends have fallen.  The campground itself is very pretty.  Actually, its beautiful and well taken care of.  I start to get excited as we started up Bird Mountain Trail.  It soon wore off as switchback after switchback occurred.  My guides did point out Quitter's road to me.  I hoped I wouldn't need that.  When we reached the top of the mountain (we have hills in Indiana, Tennessee has mountains- I'm not going out west!), Hiram wanted to go on another section of trail.  I have to say, I was already lost.  I didn't have a map, although they tried to show me, but I didn't have any idea what landmarks they were pointing out. 
 I was just along for the ride.  I have to say the ride was beautiful as we followed the ridgeline and towers of rocks stood high towards the sky.  When we had reached the ridgeline, I tried to video how loud the wind was  blowing, but it only  
lasted for 5 seconds because apparently I also have no idea how to videotape with my camera.  I just stuck with taking pics.  I have to say I had no idea where we were or where Hiram was taking us, but we did come out at a little pond, then buttslid down to another trail.  This trail was North Boundary trail and it ran along Phillips creek (I think), where we were suppose to place the book.  The whole reason we were out there.  (I have to admit, I have already forgotten the name of the book.)

One book placed.  Check.
 They built the cairn (I took pics.) and placed the book inside and we proceeded up, up, up the North Boudary Trail along Jury Ridge, Bald Knob, SOB Ditch to the Garden Spot.  I wished it was as easy as I just typed, but we had been hiking for about 4 hours and we stopped somewhere along NBTrail by a beautiful creek running down hill to eat lunch. sandwich sat in the bus.  I ate some more jerky and had a granola bar.  Pretty soon after this is when I went into my silent suffering mode.  Just plodding relentlessly forward.  I would look up the mountain, down the mountain, but we were always somewhere in the middle of the freaking mountain.  At one point,
Steve pointed out the trail that leads to Quitter's Road and I seriously
would've liked to have taken it, but I stuck it out.  Somehow.
  I remember seeing the sign for Jury Ridge and kept waiting for the other landmarks they mentioned.  We stopped a few times and Hiram pointed out some old coal trails and other interesting tidbits.  I still had no idea where we were until Steve said that Garden Spot wasn't much farther.  What?!  When did we go past Bald Knob?  Was that crack down the mountainside SOB Ditch?  Okay, I remember the landmarks, but just didn't know that's what they were at the time when we passed through.  I was sure glad to know that we were getting close to our
destination.  The rain was picking up some and we still seemed to be in the middle of the mountain.  Finally though, after passing the coal pond,
we came upon Garden Spot.  woo hoo!!!  Checked the cairn.  Yep, the others had already placed the book there.  Now to get back off of the mountain, we began to follow the jeep trail down.  The rain had picked up and I kept kidding Steve with the "Caddyshack" line, "I don't think the hard stuff's coming for quite some time."  I'm sure he was ready to throw me off the the side of the mountain.  The jeep trail was easier
trekking except that it was flowing with water.  I don't know why I kept trying to keep my shoes dry except for the fact when I did step in puddles, I could feel the icy water flow in on my chilled feet.  Plus, I think I gave comic relief to Hiram as he watched me try to keep my shoes from getting wetter.  Also though, the jeep trail was more exposed and the wind was cutting to the bone.  Thankfully, another strategic meeting took place and it was decided we were going to take North Mac Trail to get off the mountain.  It was all downhill and it led
right to the trail head and the bathroom.  I hadn't been since we left that morning, so I was kinding starting to feel like I needed too.  We reached
the trail- sign said 3.6 miles.  Music to my eyes and all downhill.  I took off leading the way with Steve behind (Hiram and Ed needed to de- water).  We were trucking along pretty good, but I wasn't sure if I was going fast enough, so I stepped aside and let all pass.  Getting so close to the bus!  Then Hiram stepped aside.  I figured he must need to de water again and kept trucking right on behind Steve and then Ed.  I noticed that Ed had his hands in his pockets.  I started thinking, good 
I'm glad I'm not the only one that is cold.  I hope everyone is cold and tired.  Then I noticed there was more rain around Ed.  Then the light bulb went off.  Ed's peeing while walking!  OMGosh...I bet he doesn't know I'm behind him.  He probably thinks Hiram is still behind.  Then it went from mirth to jealously.  Dang, I wish I could do that.  Guys have it so easy.  Then from jealously to insanity as pics of me trying to accomplish that very feat ran rampant in my over active tired imagination.  Pics no one should ever have to see- let me tell ya!
  Soon though we came around a bend and I looked to my right and I 
saw the bus sitting in the parking lot.  It was like a beacon of light calling me home.  I was so giddy to see the bus.  As soon as we hit flat ground, I broke out in a plod.  Gotta pee, gotta pee.  Look out boys gotta pee.  I grabbed some clothes out of the bus and left Ed with the heat cranked up in the bus as I ran for the bath house.  I almost peed my pants due to fingers being so cold.  Glad no one else was in the bath house when I went hopping from the potty stall to the shower stall with pants around my ankles.  Too wet, cold to worry about decency.  I quickly fumbled with shoes and undressed and took the best shower
ever.  Also, my quickest since Ed was waiting.  My hubster would have
been shocked.  I put the Nascar pit crews to shame.
  We then headed to meet up w/ Laz and the others for dinner at Riverview Grill.  They had hid 4 books.  It had taken us 8 hours to hide one book. Looking in Ed's book (Tales From Out There), adding up the trails that we were on, it comes to about 16 miles.  I have no idea how far we actually went though.

  Now, you might be wondering why the title is Quitter's Hwy.  When 
we got back to the Henn household, they began discussing the next day's hike.  Still not knowing where the heck they were talking about, I was getting intimidated.  I didn't think I could do another day like earlier.  The thought of going back out there was making me sick to my stomach.  Calves were already cramping and hips were sore.  Not too metion it was supposed to be colder and windier on Sunday.  My chest was already getting that hollow feeling.  You know how when you can feel your breath going through your airways and it feels like fine sandpaper.  I was really concerned about getting sick because this weekend will be my second attempt at a 50 miler and I have put much pressure on myself to finish that race.  Plus, I was wanting to leave by at least 4 to get home at a decent hour.   Then I got a text from my mom that my brother had to go to the hospital (he's doing better).  Then I talk to my hubster and I can tell he's missing me.  So the homesickness sets in.
  Yep, I went and told Laz of my decision.  I was leaving for home in the morning.  I was taking the Quitter's Hwy.
  We awoke to sleet, but it cleared by the time everyone was pulling out.  I felt okay about my decision, except that I hoped I hadn't disappointed Laz in bailing early.  As I pulled down the road, the way Penelope guided me back to the highway- the road was flooded.  It was a sign that I should'nt have ignored.  I turned around the way I came and headed back past the Henn's house, when in reality, I should have turned in and went with them.  Excuses be danged! 
  I didn't and I have to say that was the most miserable drive home I have ever made.  I couldn't even enjoy my tunes.  Most of the ride was spent in silence.  My heart and head were not as one.  I let myself down and missed out on what I'm sure was another great experience.  Add to the fact, when I got home and began to write this, I looked at the routes they were planning- I could've turned around anytime I felt and left on time when I needed too.  I'm sure the disappointment in myself will fade away with time, but to know I may never have the chance again for that experience.  I feel that I was let into a secret society mission and one I only chose to halfway accept.  The opportunity may not ever present itself again.  So my friends, don't let excuses get in the way of missing out on your next great adventure.

Very short (5 sec) video of wind conditions.  Would've been longer, but thought I wasn't taping when I was and was taping, when I wasn't.  : P

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