I showed up at this year's race way too out of shape and under-confidant. It was to be a killing combination. The edema and a string of DNFs set me up and a bad way. I struggled badly. Not to say I had not struggled badly before, but the storms this year were epic in scale. The race started well enough, or about the same as all the others. I even took a bit more time at Sherman to eat and get ready for the beast (Handies) coming up next.
It wasn't until Handies, though til I was thoroughly hammered. An ice storm smote down on us near the summit and stayed with us for most of the trip over and down into Grouse. I presented myself to Joyce, frozen near to death. Everything was soaked, I not only had snow and ice all over me, but also in my pockets. Joyce stripped me down and put me in our truck with the heater on full tilt and me rolled in a blanket in the back seat. Once I get shaking, I tried to quit and Joyce would not let me. She insisted I continue, so I did, but I made her go with me. All in all, I was at Grouse for 75 minutes: thawing, eating, and gearing up for the next section.
Going down Bear Creek from Engineers Pass, we were ok til we got to Yellow Jacket Mine where there's a twin waterfall. The creek was bigger than ever from the recent storms, and Joyce was terrified of crossing. But, at this point, we had no choice! Going back a good many miles up and over the mountain again, or dropping down a lot less miles into Ouray. Only thing in the way was this one damn stream.
I waded into the middle and stood there, freezing my ass off, and held me hand out to Joyce. She was very tentative, wanted nothing to do with the fast moving, and very loud, stream. Being in the dark certainly didn't help matters much. I was getting colder by the second, and as lud as I was screaming for her to come in, I am not so sure she heard me over the madness of the stream. She got close enough that I reached out and grabbed her wrist, and pulled he in. Once in, it was easy to get her quickly across the freezing cold snow melt. You might suppose what I did, standing in that stream as invigorating, but I can tell you it was not. It was simply damned cold. The tingling of freaked out nerve cells were running up my legs, direct into my brain. It was madness, and I was insane just long enough to get her across. I don't know what I would have done otherwise.
By the time we made the rest of the trip down into Ouray, I was fried, and Joyce no longer had the energy to argue with me. The Yellow Jacket stream crossing had done her in, and she was docile as a lamb for the duration. I walked into the Ouray aid station and told them I was done. Margaret Heaphy was there crewing, and talking me up to try and spur me on, but I knew I had nothing left. She and I had many adventures together over the years here at Hardrock, but I knew and couldn't explain to her that I was done. I could talk out all the different reasons, but they're all just excuses, and I hate excuses. I feel worse about quitting than I do about my body hurting, and thats where I should leave this.
Cunningham 9.3mi 8:45am 2:45
Maggie 15.4mi 11:45am 5:45 3min
Pole Creek 19.7mi 1:08pm 7:08 5min
Sherman 28.8mi 3:48pm 9:48 23min
Grouse 42.2mi 11:14pm 17:14 74min
Engineer 48.7mi 3:47am 21:47 8min
Ouray 56.6mi 6:59am 24:59