Where the Pink Glove Saves the Day
I get out of Camp Roo, with my jacket on, still fussing with items, trying to eat a great grilled cheese sandwich and juggle bottles. I can see Ernesto’s light above, so he is still close. I’m walking uphill and still fussing with pockets. A short ways up the hill, I go to don my gloves and realize I have dropped one. I don’t go back. I have a pair of socks in my pocket; they can also go over my hands.
I pop out, on the top of the ridge, to see the twinkling lights of the town below…”oo, twinkles”. I also have an urgent call of nature all of a sudden, and I cross the road. I don’t remember where the trail is at this juncture. As I turn around, as to not shine my white butt at my fellow runners, I am startled to see a light coming through the woods. This must be the two Bills, coming up right behind me. I get stage fright and pull up my pants. Now the lights stop and they seem to be looking at a sign. I of course do not go over to talk to them, I just wait. But since I still have to go, I decide to start looking for the trail. It seemed I remembered we went around a curve..
Oh no, I guess not. Here are orange blazes. I start down the trail….(which is actually the trail I just ascended). In my gut, I feel something it not quite right..But I am on orange blazes, and that is the only rule of the Ring STAY ON ORANGE.
Then I see my pink glove, on the trail. I am dumbfounded. What did I do? How did this happen? Did I go in a circle? I am massively confused and panicky. The only thing clear is I now need to reverse direction and climb again. There is, at least, some part of my logical mind still functioning. I’m still freaking out inside. So where is the rest of the trail then? I resolve to call and/or text Bur and Quatro when I get to the road to see if they can talk me through this.
I again pop out on the road, see the twinkling lights of the town. Ok Kimba, this is correct. Now, where is the trail? I go to my right, where I thought I had seen the alleged Bills emerge…ah, orange blazes. Ok.
Shortly down the trail, I climb over some rocks, and start down a hill. The trail is leaf covered, but it looks like runners kicked up the leaves. But now the trail is getting sketchy, and not well defined.
STOP! Look for an orange blaze. Nothing. I turn around. No blazes behind me. I get a little scared, because my trail isn’t looking all that well defined either in the darkness. Ok, follow your tracks as well as you can. Go back up the hill. Look for an orange blaze.
I climb a little, and see a blaze. It turns out the little wall of rocks I climbed over was to block people from doing just that; there is a sharp turn in the trail here for a switchback.
At this moment, I am not feeling good. I am rattled. I’ve gotten off trail, a clearly marked trail, twice in a half hour. Who knows how much time I have lost. I’m sinking very low fast.
SO I stop. I drink about half my malto bottle. I take a caffeine tablet and one ibuprofen. I put fresh batteries in my headlight. I start saying “everything is going to be alright” from the Bob Marley song. I just keep repeating that over and over, and concentrate on the orange blazes.
Before long, the calories and caffeine kick in. I am physically feeling better, and both emotionally and mentally have settled down. Ernesto’s light appears ahead. By the time I reach him, I feel fine. Talk about a 100% improvement from my bonk.
I am very glad to see Ernesto. We cover some miles together, just talking about gear, races, what we are eating. Companionship during the long nighttime hours is a good thing.
I am finding my climbing abilities are getting really poor. Ernesto is pulling ahead on the climbs, but I catch up when he slows down plowing through the leaves-there’s lot of rocks hidden in the leaves.
Ernesto stops. I can’t hear what he says, to either mix more Perpeteum or stretch his knee that he hurt earlier. I go on ahead, figuring he will catch me on the next climb, since I am so slow on them. On top of next climb, no Ernesto. I keep checking, expecting to see his light, but nothing.
I come to the sign for the Indian Grave Trail, and know Ernesto will be happy to see this. In my pocket, I have the turn sheet, which lists the mileage that I am at, with all the trail intersections. I don’t pull it out, because the only important landmark is the tent rigged up at Veach Gap, which tells us we have eight miles left to go.