I’m preparing for my first 50 miler this month (a little adventure I like to call the 7 Summits), and like all of us I am trying to balance training, work, play and family. Since the month of August is a slow month for us (with the exception of two fat ass events and the Jackass hill climb); Kelly and I had decided to take the family camping this last weekend at Priest Lake. I wanted to show them the natural rock waterslides at Lionhead. I also needed to get a long run in and possibly scope out a route for a state park series race. After I got our campsite set up at Luby Bay, I drove to the Northeast side of the lake to Lionhead State Park. My plan was to run a 14 to 16 mile route that I had mapped out. The route included running up a logging road and ATV trail to the Lookout Mountain Towers, and then run on some sweet singletrack back to the truck. I expected this to be difficult with about 5,000’ of elevation gain and loss. I was carrying 60 oz of water, two gels, a bar, and one of the Cliff baby food packets (my new favorite). I started running at around 9:00 am and it was already getting hot! The first section was just an easy up on the logging road and I did take an extra side trip to the trail head of Lion Creek water slides. When I made it back to the actual old road to the summit I was pretty overheated, and at this point I had 6 miles of steep climbing (3,500’) left. The majority of the route from here is exposed with some small creek crossings. After about an hour of climbing I stopped to pee and I noticed that even though I was feeling fine, my pee was actually very dark (like amber ale dark). I realized that I needed to increase my fluid intake but I had already finished the water I had, so I stopped at the next stream and refilled. I still had a bit more climbing but I was soon at the top.
The tower at Lookout Mountain is amazing! I decide I needed a little picnic up here, so I ate my bar and baby food (beet ginger flavor). By now I only had 20 oz of water left (I figured that would be enough for the 5-6 mile trip back). I was taking in the view and noticed a person in the lookout tower, so I asked if I could come up and check it out. She invited me up and this is when I met Pam (didn’t ask her last name). Pam works for the Forest Service and has been stationed at this lookout tower for over 25 years! She gave me some history about the area and fed me some water and Gatorade (looking back this probably saved me). We chatted for about 30 to 40 minutes and while I was up here I also got a call from Kelly. I told her that she would make it to camp before I would but I was having a great run. I did tell Pam which way I was planning to take (just to be safe). She informed me that the route I planned would be difficult because of some logging a few years back which made it difficult to find the trail when you crossed the FS road. I was feeling great and confident in my route so I continued on.
I fell apart around mile 12. I was sick to my stomach and started throwing up, I got chills and leg cramps, and my thoughts were fuzzy. This is when I was so happy I had spent the $$ for the Wilderness First Responder course I took this spring. I was sure that I had heat exhaustion and dehydration. I was running short on time, but I knew that if I found some shade and could keep down some water down (I had about 60 oz at this point) I would rally and could finish my run. I did stop for a few minutes, but then I would start to cramp up so bad that I felt it was better to walk, so I kept walking.
Eventually I came to the road that Pam drove up. At this point I found out the hard way that Pam was right, I could not find the trail due to the logging. After numerous wrong trails I decided that even though it would be longer I should stay on the road, finally after 7 hours I reached my truck. My GPS said 25 miles and 5600’ of elevation gain. Let me tell you the drive back to the campsite sucked! I was drinking water and holding it down, but it was so warm and the cramping was intense. After about 30 min of driving I got into cell service and contacted Kelly so she could stop worrying.
Check out my Strava link: Wow way under prepared
Moral of the story: Always be prepared!
· Tell someone where you are going and your plan. Also what to do if you don’t return. I spend so much time on the trails and I feel like I can handle anything, that’s just stupid! Anyone can get lost or have something go wrong. So tell someone, maybe a text message with a pin drop to show your starting location. Maybe use a buddy beacon (like in the my view ranger app).
· Take a map or an app you can use on your phone (like the myviewranger app) and download the map for your phone. Upgrade to the better maps (could save your life someday) and use your phone on airplane mode (saves battery).
· Proper equipment! Water and filter (or purification drops), and extra food, plan on about 400 – 600 calories per hour. I only had 600 calories for +7 hours (not even close to enough). Also bring some electrolyte tablets or capsules.
· I like to pack a little zip lock bag with: a black garbage bag, rubber gloves, Band-Aids, 5 paper towel, Benadryl, emergency wind proof lighter, whistle and a multi-tool (just in case I need to chop off my arm LOL).
*** Should you have more? I don’t know that is up to you. I have some survival training and I know I can survive in a trash bag over night and start a fire with what I have.
· Ultimate Direction AK vest ( the most versatile running vest I have ever used)
· Pearl Izumi Trail M2
· Mountain Hardware tank top
· Pearl Izumi P.R.O shorts
· Smartwool run socks.
· Head sweats Trail Maniacs hat
· Custom gators from Gunhild.