Sunday, May 12, 2013

Douglas Springs Trail to (not quite) Mica Mountain

This post is long overdue!
But I have been super busy and I'm sad to say that I had to put my blog on the back burner. :(

After my last post, I got a job as a lifeguard.
Yes! I finally chose to be a lifeguard! After all the deliberating between camp and lifeguarding...I went with the latter. I have worked as a camp counselor for 8 years. It was time to move on.
While I am still in love with camp, I am trying something new for awhile.
But you never know, since I am a teacher I will have my summers off every year. I may get back into it...maaaybe. ;)

I am also taking three online classes for my certification. My college let me know that next summer they will cancel all classes (WHAT?!?) so I have to add some more this year to make up for it. So, I am lifeguarding (pretty much everyday), teaching swim lessons (part of lifeguarding), taking 3 online classes, and planning curriculum for next year. UGH. I washoping for a relaxing summer....maybe next year. ;)

Time for the Douglas Springs Trail recap!

Kathryn and I decided to run this trail together in May. We were planning on going to the top but when I woke up that morning, I was feeling like crap and I had a feeling I may not make it. 
But I wanted to try because I had never run in the Rincon Mountains before. I haven't even been over there, even though I've lived here my whole life! 

We started out around 7am, hoping to beat the heat. 
In Southern AZ, you have to be careful about the heat; especially if you are from out of town. A few summers ago, two hikers died from heat stoke and they didn't even have enough water on them for a normal hike. They were from Europe.  Just be careful!
So, I am always nervous about running anywhere lower than Mt. Lemmon during the summer in Tucson.

We started along a fairly even dirt trail. I was keeping a good pace, the last long run I ran (up Mt. Wrightson) helped with that. ;)
I could feel my lungs burning and I had to pull out my inhaler at least once. Sometimes I think it's more mental than physical, especially when I'm running with someone. I feel as if I need to match their pace and if they are faster, then I really start to push it. However, my lungs don't necessarily agree with that logic. 

Then, we started to climb into the Rincon mountains. 

Kathryn leading the way.
Going higher into the Rincons. 
I love trail running, but sometimes it is so painful when you are out of shape!! 
But I guess that's part of the fun, right? :)

The views were, of course, amazing. 
The trail was great! The temperature was perfect in the morning...not too hot and not at all cold. 
There were not very many people on the trail which was nice.
The trail itself was easy enough in the first mile or so, but then it rose up with small inclines. There were some switchbacks later on but nothing like the ones in the Santa Rita mountains....much more manageable.
The views were great too. I love trying out new trails!!
A view of Tucson, looking southwest. 
I told Kathryn that I wasn't feeling too great, so she said we should run up the trail to a campground.
I heard 9 miles roundtrip so I figured it would only be a few more miles up the trail (since it was only 4.5 miles one way). I said sure let's go!
I remember that I kept checking my watch to make sure we wouldn't miss 4.5 miles. When we did pass it, I stopped and wondered where the campground was. She corrected me and told me 9 miles total. 9 miles  normally would not have bothered me, but I really wasn't in the correct mindset that day. I think my mouth dropped. :)
Me and Kathryn
So, we snapped a picture together, and I headed off down the mountain. I felt pretty defeated.
I knew I could have gone farther than 9 miles total that day, but I know not to push myself when I am feeling sick (or injured). This is probably why I am never been injured from running. 
 The next weekend, I planned to run up the Catalina's and I wanted to be injury free. 

Looking towards the Catalinas. 
I ran back down the trail alone.
I felt like I was slowing Kathryn down (she is so fast!) so I was glad she could pick up some speed and get to the top. It was getting hot and I was worried she would run out of water.
But she texted me later and told me she made it back down in one piece!
However, she said she couldn't find Mica Mountain (our destination) so we have a reason to go back in the fall and look for it. :)
I will be ready next time!

Some parts of the trail were flat thank goodness!
On my way back to my car...I had to take a break. 
On my way back, I took a break on a rock. I was so incredibly tired all of a sudden.
I was not sure what was going on with me. I sat and looked at the view for awhile. It was hard just to stand up! Perhaps the run last weekend wore me out...

After finally convincing myself that I had to get back to my car, I stood up and ran down the trail. Running down is, of course, so much easier. :)
As I sped up, I started to wake up. Running fast was nice. 

I came to a sign that said Bridal Wreath Falls was really close!
I had to check it out. I heard the falls are really nice and there is a fairly large waterfall.
I was hoping there would at least be some water. 

Checking out Bridal Wreath Falls on my way back. 
The trail to the falls were shaded and flat. But the falls were completely dried up. No waterfall. No water. 
Not even a drop. Typical. 
It looked as if it would be a nice place to be when it was flowing. I made a promise to myself that I would come back here when it rained. 

Watch out: Mountain Lions!
Not sure if you pick this up from my other posts, but I am freaked out when I run alone. 
I am always stopping, making sure that sound behind me was not a mountain lion. 
I have lived here my entire life and I have never seen one...but I am still terrified of them! 
I have heard stories, and I think that's what fueled my fear.
They are out there, I know, so I wasn't surprised when I saw the sign above. 

A few weeks ago, a trail in Sabino Canyon was shut down for a few days because of a mountain lion that was acting weird. It wasn't afraid of humans and it was hanging around in one place. Not typical of them. They are said to move....when they aren't stalking something...which is what I think they are doing to me every time I run alone.

I will have to get over my fear one day...right? lol

Douglas Springs was great! Glad I had a running buddy to go with.
I wish I had run farther, but I just wasn't feeling it.
Next time I try this trail, I hope my body agrees that day! *crossing my fingers*

Sunday, May 5, 2013

To the Top of Mt. Wrightson!

Last Sunday, I got the chance to finally explore the Santa Rita Mountains. 

TTR hosted a run called Mt. Wrightson Massacre. The goal is to do more than one ascent and descent. My goal was to make it to the top and back down without twisting an ankle or getting lost (which I almost did). 

I drove to the base of the Santa Rita's for a 7AM start. I was amazed at how different it looked from the rest of Southern Arizona! It was so shaded and forested. There were a few cute cabins and B&B's along the road. It made me think of what Oregon would look like (it was also pretty cloudy in the morning). 

I got out of the car and it was freezing! Okay, maybe not freezing but darn chilly because of the wind! I definitely wasn't prepared for it. Thankfully I had a jacket in my car! Way to be prepared. ;)

There were only 2 others starting with me. I signed in and got a map of the route. (This is why I love running with TTR. You have to sign in just in case you never return to the finish line and they usually provide you with a map so you hopefully don't get lost.) Another runner, Ken, started with me and showed me the way. He told me he ran Mt. Wrightson 6 times in one day! That's about 60 miles; And a whole lot of elevation!

We chatted and power-hiked for a while until I needed to stop and use my inhaler. Then we went at our own speeds (mine being a whole lot slower). Although, sometimes it's nice to run alone. It gives me time to think. :)
The beginning of the trail with Mt. Wrightson in the background. 

Starting out!

A beautiful trail, but the inclines are rough. 
I climbed for about an hour and then came upon a bunch of people camping. They were scattered everywhere and I tried to find the trail. I headed in what I thought was the right direction. At this point, I was looking for Josephine Saddle. I found a sign pointing down and north but it didn't have Josephine's Saddle on it; it just said Josephine's road or something like that. So I took it for about half a mile. It went down and down and down and it turned into a footpath. I got really worried when it split and there was no sign. Both trails went farther down. But Mt. Wrightson should still be going up, I thought. What also started to worry me was the amount of stashed water bottles in the bushes. With labels in Spanish. 
That's when I realized I must be on a trail that illegal immigrants use. The Santa Ritas are smack dab between the Mexican border and Tucson. A perfect crossing location. It's only about 30 minutes to the border from where I was. I asked about it later and some of the TTR members had actually run into some people who were crossing. 

I finally realized that I was definitely on the wrong path so I trekked back up the footpath and tried to find someone to ask. At that point, all the campers had left. Thankfully, there was one woman who was reading one of the signs. I asked her for the way to Josephine Saddle. She told me I was standing on it. Oh.

She pointed me in the right direction. The campers had been camping so close to the trail (basically on it) and I didn't bother to go in that direction. Hmph. 

I learned Josephine's Saddle has some sad history. In 1958, 3 boy scouts went camping and ended up setting up camp here. There was a freak snowstorm and unfortunately they did not survive the night. Another troop put up a plaque for them and some people seem to add small trinkets as they pass by. 

Josephine's Saddle - in remembrance of the 3 boy scouts that died. 

Super Trail is another way to get down the mountain.
I will have to try that one next time. 
 I continued on. The vegetation changed from scrub oak to more woodland. It got colder as I sweated more and the wind continued to blow. A few runners ran past me, down the mountain. I wondered if they were with TTR too. Some people started at 5AM. And some even earlier, like midnight. 

I started to climb out of the trees and I got some nice views of Mt. Hopkins. 

...and some great views of the valley as well.
Getting close to the switchbacks...
Finally, I got to Bellows Spring (which was another checkpoint on my map). I wasn't expecting much. And of course, there wasn't anything exciting. I don't even know if someone would actually drink out of this spring. Unless I was dying, then I definitely wouldn't. 

A sad, sad little spring. 

It got a little rocky after that...
this is about where the pain in the a$$ switchbacks started. 
 The switchbacks started to climb up and twist and turn. My legs hurt. I was tired of climbing. I got a little delirious. I usually talk to myself when this happens. 

And then I finally got to the top of the switchbacks!

Looking up towards the top...almost there. :)

At the next saddle, at the top of the first set of switchbacks. 

Almost there!!!
Finally! I made it to the top! In under 3 hours! 
Looking north, towards Tucson.
The dust/smog was unfortunately bad that day, but it's still a fantastic view.

Looking south, towards Mexico. Only about a half hour away...

There is a box at the top with notebooks to register in.
They kept them from a few years back!
It was pretty cool looking at the old entries. 

I made it to the top after a tough "run". I power-hiked a good part of it. ;) 
I sat down for about 10 minutes and ate an energy bar.. It was super windy at the top and I had to hold onto my hat pretty tightly. It was also really cold because of the wind and my dried sweat. I kept my hands stuffed in my pockets because they were hurting pretty bad. They swelled (maybe from lack of electrolytes or the elevation). And the wind sure wasn't helping. 

They don't look too swollen, but I could definitely feel the difference. 

I decided to head back down the mountain.
I was so fast running down that I came around a few corners sometimes and almost fell over!
I used trees to stop me if I felt like I was running too fast. I didn't want to trip and land on my face.


My final time.
Pretty good time coming down since it took me about 3 hours to get to the top. 
I was definitely limping by the time I got back to the car. Another wonderful thing about TTR is that there is a run director who brings delicious food for every run. :) Raoul was the RD this time, and he brought pizza and Eegees! I was a happy runner (despite the leg cramps, of course).
I always forget to take photos of people afterwards, so I'll have to remember to do that for the next run! 

The climb was pretty intense and I could feel it in my legs.
I looked at the elevation profile when I got home and was amazed at how high I went!

 I can't wait until the next Mt. Wrightson run. Hopefully, I'll be able to beat my time!
What a great run!

“Try not to fight the trail. Instead, try to feel the natural rhythm, the flow… and rather than attempting to conquer it, practice becoming one with it. Begin each run with Shoshin – A Beginners Mind.             --- (Zen Running)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Yoga Oasis

I have been going to this ah-mazing yoga class for the past 4 weeks. 

I have always liked yoga. But I was never overly excited to go to a yoga class. It used to seem so boring, doing the same yoga poses over and over again. 

But recently, something clicked. I tried out another class at Yoga Oasis in the smaller room with a different teacher and I absolutely fell in love with it! Melissa has become one of my favorite yoga instructors. She is friendly, sweet, helpful and non-judgmental. I am excited to go to class every week. 

And there's definitely something to say about practicing yoga in a smaller room. It is more intimate, and it feels less like a class. Instead it feels like an experience.

The room isn't full just yet.
I like to get there early so that I can grab a place near the front. 

I love this yoga studio! They have a great deal called Yoga Hour where they only charge $5 for a class. Since it's so near to the university, students love this deal and the classes are always full. The studio has a few rooms but the small one is by far my favorite. 

Yoga Oasis has some great quotes along their walls outside.
love Yoga Oasis and I'm excited I have found another hobby to pass the time. :)
Don't expect me to get yoga obsessed, but I will definitely continue to have fun with it. 

Do you  your yoga studio?


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