Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mount Teneriffe and Mount Si

Golden, red, and brown. These are the colors of my trail.

The leaves fell hard, splashing the moist rocky trail with each impact. Each leaf linking with another leaf to form a colorful jigsaw puzzle at my feet. The rain, a cold reminder of the months to come, fell confusingly parallel to the rate of my perspiration. "Am I sweating? Or is that rain?" One breath in, one breath out. The clouds, thick with moisture, sit teasingly high above me at 6,000 ft. Just enough space to expose the summits of today's route.

The first ascent is just shy of 5 miles, with 4,000+ ft. of vertical and isn't a route that can be run fluidly. Run. Hike. Breath. Repeat. At times, the effort feels like a 400m sprint. Miles inch by at a snails pace. The Tortoise, of Aesop's Fables, has become the Hare, and I am forced into patience. The wind slashes through the trees as it becomes impeded by the sudden uprising of the mountain. The first mile after the waterfall humbles you with 1,300 ft. of vertical gain, and then the mountain breaks you. The final .88 mi., casts an intimidating shadow with 1,900 ft. of vertical gain. I have an angry, simple thought, "Mountains should change their names to Masochist." Finally, I summit. My hat is nearly blown off my head as I take in my surroundings. The wind is gusting at 30 mph, and the temperature is much lower than the 50°F at the Mount Si Trailhead. Snapping a quick photograph, I look west toward a rock face jutting about the tree swept mountainside. Destination number two, Mount Si.

I meander around the summit of Mount Teneriffe for a few minutes looking for the "trail" that connects the two mountains. My mind is shivering, my body is cooling. Finally, a red marker catches my eye. On the map, my planned route looks easy to follow. The bold green trails drawn on a sandstone background provide pre-run confidence. Navigating this mountain isn't that green-and-beige, however. The steep ascent now becomes a slippery descent. I slide on my ass, accidentally.  The "not really a trail" evolves slowly from no trail to deer trail to human trail. A sigh of relief, and the legs keep moving. The trail comes to an end, for now, as it transforms into an old logging road. I head down the rock studded, muddy road just as a drenching rain settles in above me. The connector trail is a little over a mile away, I think. Otherwise, it's a seven mile descent on an unused road. I don't self-inflict pain for monotony, so that route is abandoned before I even begin the run. A large marker, maybe 3 feet in length, hangs soaking wet ten feet above the trail that intersects the road. "How did someone get that up there?" More simple thoughts. I take the trail, and after a cold mile, arrive at the "distant rock summit" that I had seen on top of Mount Teneriffe. The vegetation not wanting to retreat from the trail hangs itself out for full-body hugs for anyone passing their rooted position. I snap a view photographs, and head toward home. The descent is easy: nothing technical and the trail is tacky. Arriving back in the parking lot, the skies open up. After a natural wander, a natural shower.