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November 19, 2007

why ruin it with foreshadowing?

we had planned to head to church w/ my parents on sunday morning, so i bumped my long run to this morning.  after extensive researching on the local trails and mountains, i opted to do a 16 mile loop through white tank regional park; starting clockwise on the goat camp trail and connecting with the ford canyon trail.   a look at the elevation said it'd be a tough couple miles at the start, but then a great cruise for the middle miles and some fun downhill for the finish.  perfect.

i popped out of bed at 5am, ate, grabbed my gear and headed to the trail head.  the sky was just getting light as i pulled up.  i had a two mile jog from where i'd parked (at the ford canyon trailhead) along the park road to the goat canyon trailhead before i hit any dirt.  i opted to do the road running at the front end of the run so that i wouldn't have to suffer the asphalt if i was tuckered out at the end.

sunrise01 the sun crested the horizon as i approached the goat canyon trail head.  it was a huge orange ball, backlighting the saguaro cactus and painting a picturesque desert sunrise.  i hit the trail and started up the canyon on the dirt.  the first mile of trail was a real easy grade and i cruised along, feeling fantastic.  the trail wound through lots of desert scrub and cactus of all shapes and sizes.

by mile 4 (2 miles into the trail), the trail began to change and climb steeply up the canyon.  the smooth trail was replaced by lots of rock and very technical sections.  by the time i hit mile 3, it was getting difficult to keep running so i power walked/hiked/climbed up the trail.  finally, i hit a saddle that marked a change in the trail grade.  i stopped for some gu and a void break.  as i emptied my bladder, i thought to myself, "take that, you nasty mountain!".

running again, the trail took a much less steep route, but continued to climb.  i spooked a small herd of mule dear and watched as they bounded across the rocks and brush.  the trail crossed the wash it had been paralleling and then climbed steeply up the canyon wall.  again, it was technical and too steep to run.  once i hit the saddle, i was greeted with a welcome sight.  the trail followed the contour of the mountain's arms, keeping about the same elevation.  i could see it stretching off for miles.  it was time to cruise.

for the next several miles, i was in heaven.  smooth singletrack, minimal elevation gain or loss and fantastic vistas as the trail wound over and around the ridgelines and saddles.  eventually, it dropped back down into another wash, climbed up the other side of the canyon and then spit me out into the wash of ford canyon.  here, the trail disappeared and for the next couple miles, the trail WAS the wash.  nasty sandy running made for a real lame portion of the trail.  i was still feeling good and having a grand old time, but this was the low point of the route.

eventually, the trail resumed and stuck to the canyon wall as the wash continued to wind it's way below.  more of the very technical type of trail returned and as i descended back down to the canyon floor, i ended up going as slow downhill as i had uphill.  it was just too technical to truly run.  i hopped and shuffled my way down, trying to move quickly, but still trying to be safe.

safe.  right.

at about mile 12, my right foot caught one of the numerous rocks on the trail and i went flying forward.  in that split second that i was off balance and headed toward the ground, i was able to get my arms out in front of me.  the thought went through my head, "ah ha!  good thing i got my hands out to break my fall!"  and then...


i landed chin first onto a huge quartzite boulder in the middle of the trail, hands on either side, useless.  i rolled to the side, sat up and felt my chin.  my hand came away wet and i looked down to see a surprising amount of blood covering my hand.  i took quick stock.  my head felt okay.  i wasn't dizzy.  i moved my jaw.  holy ouch.  my jaw ACHED at the joints, but i had movement.  that had to be a good thing.

chin01 i stood back up.  still no dizziness.  my head must be okay.  i brushed my chin again with my arm and again, it came away covered with fresh blood.  i looked down at my shirt and it was already covered, too.  haha...at least it was a dark colour!   looked down at my legs and the were bloody, too.  a pretty large hematoma was forming on my right shin and my left knee was looking pretty messy too.

i started walking.  everything seemed to be functioning.  i picked up my pace and started power walking down the trail.  i was paying close attention to how the jaw felt.  the pain in the joints wasn't acute, but more of a dull pain.  the pressure of swallowing was pretty intense and when i clamped my jaw closed, i couldn't stand the pain.  but, i could move my jaw side to side, open my mouth and talk, so i figured that i'd live.

after about a quarter mile, i looked at my watch and realized that if i kept walking, i'd finish the run quite late and i knew that my mom would completely freak out and call in search and rescue.  i tentatively started running again and everything felt okay...as long as i didn't move my mouth, that is. 

finally, the trail dropped out of the canyon and back onto the desert floor.  no more technical sections!  i picked up the pace and started crusing along through the saguaro and other cactus.  i passed a couple hikers heading up the trail and got some interesting looks.  i guess i was a mess.  covered in blood...like a serial killer.  or a grave robber.

after four miles, i finally made it back to the car, hopped in and called smsmh to let her know i was okay, but headed to the hospital to get my jaw checked out.  they were worried, of course, but i fortunately talked them out of meeting me there.  i tried to eat a matisse & jack's bar on the way to the hospital, but man did chewing hurt.  i had to let it just sit in my mouth and dissolve. 

i'll pass on the boring hospital details, but they determined that i most likely didn't break my jaw.  fortunately i landed straight on and didn't have any lateral force, which would have most likely broke it.  the chin, though, was nasty.  i ended up with seven stitches.  woohoo.  now i've got some trail running cred.  haha.

stitches01 i'm a tad sore, it hurts to chew and i've got rock rash all over my legs, but i'm alive, a little bit smarter and now i have  an excuse to take it easy at the xterra race this saturday.   tomorrow, though, i know i'm going to be stiff.  good thing we're doing nothing but driving back to california. 

next time, i won't be so rude to the mountain.  respect nature?  absolutely.

Posted by jeff at November 19, 2007 8:25 PM

Ouch, ouch and OUCH! I'm glad that you didn't pass out and that you're ok, even if the jaw might hurt for a while.

Posted by: Karin at November 20, 2007 12:26 AM

I've seen that photo before somewhere....

Posted by: Patrick at November 20, 2007 2:04 AM

OUCH! I bet you missed church too. Stay safe.

Posted by: Juls at November 20, 2007 6:37 AM

Serves you right pissing off a mountain! ;)

Posted by: Laurie at November 20, 2007 7:52 AM

Ouch! Glad you're OK aside from the gashes.

By the way, you're supposed to leave no trace in the wilderness. So can I assume you'll be going back to clean up all the blood you spilled in that dirt?

Posted by: Donald at November 20, 2007 11:53 AM

oh man, that sounded so sore! it doesn't look as bad as you'd expect from the description, at least not on those photos. i really hope your jaw isn't broken, and you'll recover soon.

Posted by: Thomas at November 20, 2007 1:01 PM

Nice move lather legs. Glad you're ok!

Posted by: DREW at November 20, 2007 5:05 PM

Bushwacking through the cemetary and up the hill in Pamona has nothing on this story, jeff.

Sure am glad it was nothing more serious than this and you did a good job of taking care of yourself while in a remote place.

I'm waiting to hear what you mom thought of all of this though :-)

Posted by: Joe at November 20, 2007 6:18 PM

the trail cred makes it all worth it! i need some of that.

Posted by: brent at November 20, 2007 6:44 PM

I love all that mountain talk of saddles, vistas, mountain arms, canyons, washes and ridgelines. What about arroyos? I have nothing close to that stuff in Florida. How about condos, boardwalks, sinkholes and scrub forests?

And Laurie so stole my comment.

Posted by: david at November 20, 2007 7:34 PM

Man, you're lucky you didn't knock some teeth out or jiggle some brains loose or something horrible. Take care out there, Jeff! Many times when I'm "out there" I say to myself, "I need to move slowly and deliberately because getting hurt right now would be bad."

Recover well. Eat a lot at Thanksgiving, that will help the recovery. Seriously, be safe!


Posted by: Meghan at November 20, 2007 7:55 PM

Yowch! You dodged another bullet (the first one being the time you bonked in the heat and nearly had heat stroke). I hope your jaw feels better by tomorrow so you can chow down with gusto!

ps - maybe you should only go trail running on the buddy system. Just sayin'

Posted by: 21stCenturyMom at November 21, 2007 9:33 AM

Glad you are okay, man was I freaked when I first heard the details!

Posted by: Angie at November 21, 2007 11:25 AM

That photo of your chin scab looks remarkably like Flipper's. :))
Glad you are ok!

Posted by: Annalisa at November 24, 2007 3:02 PM

hey, just saw this blog...what in the world? nice work! sorry about your fall, man! see ya soon! miss ya!

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