The Ascent Back to Mount ‘Alava
So as I turn around, I immediately realize that now I am going to have to exert myself because I am now having to climb back up the mountain.
As I initially make my way up I suddenly compare this climb to the marathon. I’m making my way strenuously up the hill and think to myself, this is how a marathon feels, but at the marathon, I know there will be, at least, water ahead. Here I don’t have that luxury.
But then I go into Marathon Survival mode and I begin to look for solutions. First, where can I get something to drink. I remember the small tree area that had water coming out of it from some mountain stream. But was it safe? Would I get sick? I don’t have any filtering or iodine to clean it. But I think about it… I’ll make a decision when I get there.
Where else can I get something to drink. Hey, there’s a coconut tree. Coconuts have liquid in them. But they I think “But their so high up, I don’t have the energy”. The Smarter Marathoner conscious replies, “Dude, Gravity… check the ground”
Score! two coconuts, in there protective cocoon. So I grab then and continue to climb to get out of the sun. I stop to catch my breath. I can tell, again from what I learned running, that my pulse was pretty high. I was definitely in my anaerobic stage and guess that I was 70-80 of my max heart rate. Since I had plenty of climbing and walking to do, I stopped.
So, I started to fiddle with the coconut. I do have a presentation of my coconut Mac-Gvyering, but before I go there, let me tell you that I do not like coconut. The only time I will eat coconut on a voluntary basis is on Hostess Sno-Balls. Don’t like Coconut Rum, Mounds, Almond Joy (even though they have coconut). When I bite into a Whitmans chocolate that is unknowingly coconut, I immediate cease biting the chocolate and with my mouth open as to not taste anymore of the candy, I proceed to eject the unwanted candy into the trashcan. BLEH!
As a runner, you tend to eat things that you would not normally if you were in a different situation. The bruised brown banana, after a long race, that’s the best bruised brown banana you have ever tasted in your life! Oatmeal Raisin cookies (something I avoid… I have a thing with raisin), these are the best Oatmeal Raisin cookies that you have ever had. And so on and so on.
So, coconut milk (I could here it sloshing), here I come. When you buy a coconut from the store or have seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, those are just the inside shell. there is a whole protective sheathe that surrounds the coconut for it’s 20 foot drop onto the earth. The outer shell it incredibly fibrous and dense. I am now going to post the shell game and update more then.
The well protected coconut
Trying to break into the outer shell
Finally, the inner shell is exposed
A quick hit and the inner shell is cracked
Success! Wha… only 2ounces of milk for all that work… sheesh
So I decided that I would keep the second coconut with me and if I need it, I will use it. But I am also keeping half the shell that is open in case I want to eat the raw coconut OR I need it as a cup. I am still hoping for an afternoon shower at which time I will take one of the big leaves and use it as a funnel into the shell.
The ascent back up was very strenuos. There were several times where I just had to sit down and rest for a minute or two. I amused myself by saying that this was the Galloway Walk-Sit method for climbing a mountain. Runners might get it.
I did stop at the tree water thing and decided to get a little water. I figured that if I could get some that was dripping that it would be better than dipping in the pool. The water was coming off some moss type plant and I thought to myself, maybe that hallucinogenic… cool. But it wasn’t, I don’t think…
I only drank enough to wet my mouth and not have it dry and parched. I figured that if it was coming off the mountain, though it wouldn’t be sanitary or pure, it probably wouldn’t kill me… so far, so good.
By now, I am just stinking up the place. I had a coolmax shirt on and it was just soaked to the bone. But I had a method to the madness of getting back to top, thank you marathons. I was even entertaining myself on how I would blog all this. Of course, I was much more creative while it was happening, but it passed the time and kept me mentally in the race.
When I got to the ladder/rope thingies, I knew that I would really need some extra strength to get up them. I thought to myself, that I might have been a little foolish to go as far as I did but I quickly dismissed that since I was in no danger of dying, unless I fell… I did have a phone but where I was it said “No Service”. I’d just have to wait until a Search and Rescue team came and found me.
So with that fantasy out of my head, I started up the ladders. And again, I was utilizing marathon techniques to get me up to the top. I would look at where I wanted to climb and then visualize myself at the top. I use this technique in the later stages of the marathon or when I have hit the Proverbial “Wall” (there is no wall, it’s all mental). You look ahead and you run to that point, you reward yourself by walking a short distance or you find another point and keep going.
So that’s what I did… up the ladder and on to the next one. A couple times, I had to just sit down again and wait until i felt better. I could tell that I was getting low on energy as a crap developed in my right shoulder. I really wanted to get to that Fale and take a nap!
Right when I thought I was close to the summit, I see a WHOLE other section that I needed to climb. Grrr. Oh well, March on soldier. I also come the conclusion that whatever half-marathon/marathon distance that I was going to run was not going to happen.
I would have to be stoopid, and yes, with TWO “O”s. If I thought that I could do this soon to be 5+hr hike along with running in the morning. I convince the running committee that I would be better off running 4-6miles tomorrow and then longer the next Saturday/Sunday.
After more climbing, sitting, climbing, I finally make it back to the Fale. I proceed to take off my hipbag, and my hat and I lay down on the concrete floor of the Fale.
I still have that second coconut and figure that hey, I could use it now. But as I am opening it up, or trying to, the phone rings. It’s Richard telling me that he has a new rental car as well as a new phone. Cool. I tell them that I should be done in about 45min-1 hour and then the drive home. They were extremely bored and needed to do something (how about a death march up and down and back up and down a mountain?)?
I realize that for me to get into the freaking coconut that I would waste so much energy for 2-4ounces of coconut milk. Conservation of Energy, it’s universal!
So, I reach in my pocket and grab 2 starburst and get going. I grab my other empty gatorade bottle and get ready to head for the car.
Total Elapsed Time 4hrs 23min (I was 23 minutes slower on the ascent than the descent, but I stopped a lot more times)
The Decent to the car
I was a man on a mission… GET-TO-THE-CAR! Don’t take pictures, don’t look at the scenery, don’t stop walking.
Actually, I got about 10 feet away from the building at the top of the mountain and my photography conscious kicks in.
“Hey, you wanted a picture of that dilapidated box over there, I was told we would stop and take the pictures.”
“Man, I am tired, I just want to get to the car”
“okay, it’s your call, you’ll regret it later. You left AV-1 at home. What’s the word?”
“Fine, let’s take the picture,” I thought as there were many other instances on picture opportunities missed and I didn’t have a plan to return anytime soon, or ever, “Boom, there it is, let’s go”!
“Hey, Terry, what about the tram system”
“okay, good call, got it, let’s go!”
So I start moving. And moving I do. I found a pace that worked and with the fact that I was going to the car, I didn’t stop. I walked at something near a 15 minute mile.
Since I was moving fast (for safety sake) on such a changing terrain, I only looked at the 4 feet in front of me to avoid obstacles. I was finding that I could keep this pace regardless of the terrain: 6″ grass or Rocks or mud. I even hit some mud and slipped a little and compensated to keep the pace going.
Finally toward the end I knew that I was getting close. I knew it! But every turn it seemed to be more trees and more trees. Where’s the freakin car?!
Sure enough, the last corner came and there was the car… thank goodness that it was still there. First thing was to get to the water in the trunk and then turn on the AC to get the car.
Total Elapsed Time 5hr 25min