This was NEO TC annual Fat Ass, the Covered Bridge Fat Ass. We staged out of Linn Run State Park, in PA, like we did for Slim Pickins.
It took just one email, for me to change plans for the weekend. "If you want you can head out down the trail and meet up with us on the LHHT. park at the camp or 5 miles up the road at the TH right at the Laurel Trail. Should be a great big full moon."
So I went from the mind set of just getting to the cabin at midnight, to starting my run after I arrive, to meet Bob and Rich out there on the trail...much more inviting and exciting!
Nothing like working a 10 hour shift, then driving 3 hours, and then running trails all night!
I got to the cabin at 1148, right on time. I had already changed to trail clothes. Nobody was stirring at the cabin, so I didn't knock on the door. It was warm out. I discarded my Bunn, and my air-breathing mask, and some jelly beans...it seemed like I had too much gear.
And it was warm! So warm, like 60 degrees, at midnight, on Friday! I still kept the fluorescent yellow Asics jacket on, knowing the temperature would drop through the night.
I took the road option up to where the Laurel Highland Trail would intersect. The plan was, Bob and Rich had started at mile marker 70, and head south. I was starting at mile marker 39 and would head north. When we intersected, I would turn around, and run with them back to the cabin.
It was five miles to the Laurel Highland Trail. I turned it into six, by missing the trail head and running down a different trail. So it was 130 am when I got on the LHHT.
LHHT (Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail) is marked very well with yellow blazes. But it still a little difficult, at night. I would find myself blundering off trail, stopping, and looking for a blaze. (Note: late winter is difficult on the trail. It's not well travelled, and lots of the wood looks the same.) I would find myself getting frustrated with blundering off trail, stopping and finding the yellow blazes again.
In fact, when I got to the mileage at the "Beam Rocks" I ended up circling the rocks, and heading SOUTH (the way I had came). I noticed the water crossing I was getting ready to cross, and thought, I just did this. Luckily, I turned, noticed a few different blazes and headed north again.
I run alone, most of the time. It doesn't bother me. And with this run, I didn't really feel at it like I was running alone. I was going to meet up with my friends, somewhere along the trail, and then we would all be together.
There is still snow in Pa. As I put my foot down on some white stuff, I started the thought that it might be slick, and then whomp! I was down, on my back, on my side. I didn't even get up. My fingers got bent back "the other way" but I could tell they weren't broken.
I didn't even get up. I rolled to my side, got my hydration vest off, took some ibuprofen and a caffeine tablet. Body parts hurt, I bent my left fingers back the wrong way, but nothing was broken. My shoulder was very sore-it's good I am not a swimmer, as I could see that being limited.
It wasn't till after this, when I had my first "alone" minute. All I was doing, was heading north, for my friends. The thought came out of the air. "You are all by yourself, the only human, in this big forest". It's 3am, I'm a solitary female, in a thin jacket in the cold, hiking in the middle of the night. It gave me a scary moment-but just for a moment. For some reason, I thought about my waterproof matches that I carry. I could always build a fire. I would have warmth, and t hat would be good. For some reason, that comforted me. (Just a note, anymore, I carry my emergency whistle and fireproof watches, and my inhaler, all the time in my pack. They don't weight much.)
Anyways, I keep trekking north. WHERE are my friends? I am getting so lonely. I just want to be with my friends. I'm tired of being alone. Our starting times were just estimations-I was off my starting time on the trail by 1/2 hour, maybe they were too?
I start to re-evaluate my calories. I didn't really drill down on how long I would be out there-do I have enough calories for this run? I have one of those high-caloric pecan pies in my pack-how many calories are in those?
I stop at mile 47 to eat and inventory my remaining calories. The pecan pie is an AWESOME 480 calories-I eat half immediately. (Isn't it interesting, in a female that watches her calories so carefully, is so happy to have some fuel with so many calories in it? That's ultra trail running!) I still have some PayDay bars and some hard candies. I've been out on the trails for five hours, it will be at least 5 hours back again.
I resolve, if I haven't run into the guys at mile 50, to turn and go back to the cabin.
About fifteen minutes later, I am astounded to see lights up the hill in front of me. After hours of hearing voices, and seeing rogue lights, my community, my peeps, my friends are here!! I am SO HAPPY to see my guys. The energy level goes up immediately.
Rich asks, is this Kimba? Well,who else would it be??
The mile markers I have struggled over going north are so much easier now, with three headlamps, and conversation continiuing. It also helps that the sunrise is imminent. It becomes much easier to run with the lights off.
All of a sudden, there is this quick guy in shorts running toward us-CAM!! Another NEO TC member, he's been running crazy miles on Friday and into Saturday morning. He joins us and I run ahead of the guys-they seem to be doing some macho beating of their chests-but I also overhear some nice compliments being given of my running status-so that was very much appreciated.
Cam peels off at the trail head, to his truck, to rack up yet more miles on another trail. Rich, Bob and I continue down the road for four more miles to the cabin. It's all downhill, and Rich tells me we have to run it all-so we do. Glad Rich was there, because I am sure I would have slowed to a walk-and we run the last 4 back to the cabin.
Being it is now 930 am, lunch of nacho casserole and some Dogfish IPA is a fine breakfast after a 50K night run!