Today was our first mountain run. Sure, we've run our local peaks and steep neighborhood trails, but we've never run at high elevation. I stepped out of the car, breathing in the fresh air. I knew it would warm up soon, so reveled in the dim morning light.
I followed the creek's rhythm to relax into an even stride.
My lungs relaxed, but my legs struggled on the scree trails. Kona kept me moving as she tugged on my line. I let her hunt chipmunks to her heart's desire. The stalking breaks gave me time to rest.
As we ran higher, the sun dipped into the canyon.
Just as I began to curse my malfunctioning legs, the trail became steeper and my stride became stronger. I thought I had gained a second wind, but then noticed the trail. The loose scree and rocks turned to hardpack. What a difference the trail made!
While nothing slows Kona down, she was willing to stop at our saddle. We had reached our destination! Kona looked down the canyon and I smiled in satisfaction.
The sun was bright, but the saddle funneled wind between canyons. I put on my vest as I ate my Cliff Bar and handed Kona treats (in between her sight-seeing).
Kona did amazing during our break. She drank water, took treats and didn't whine. She deserved a reward. . .A game of Find the Lizard before we headed home.
Our descent started well, but as we got closer to the parking lot, the trail became busier. A stone's throw away from the trailhead, we ran into a trail crew (6 burly men, carrying shovels and pushing a wheelbarrow) and Kona gave me her first "Oh hell no!" reaction in a long time. Unfortunately, the sides of the trail were too steep for me to navigate and give Kona more space around the scary crew. She was finally able to balance her own way across the steep slope while I stayed on the trail.
I never like to finish a run on a stressful note, but I think we had enough good moments to make up for it. There's got to be some behavior modification rule that goes something like that. . .