September 2008 Archives

Elephant Head


Due to weather threats and a general lack of funds, my friend Mo and I decide to forgo Flagstaff and Humphreys. Instead, we choose to stick closer to home:

Elephant Head in the afternoon
Elephant Head.

So I don't have a topo map for the area, nor have I ever been there. I don't have a hiking book for it, and all I can find are two brief descriptions online that tell me how to access it. Mo and I go for it anyway.

Nutrition at the start

We grab our morning fortification from Xoom Juice, then head out. The directions to the trailhead seem pretty detailed: travel south to Green Valley, get off the highway and go to Elephant Head road, then go 3.6 miles on this road, 1.7 on the next (slightly rougher) dirt road, 2.2 on the (slightly more rougher) dirt road, .4 down the next (even more rougher dirt road) and then 1.2 (almost impassible) dirt road to the trail head.

Elephant Head in the morning

We can't make the last 1.2, even in Mo's high-clearance four-wheel-drive truck, Betty. Betty does her best, but she just can't make it. Okay, so we add 2.4 miles to the (roughly) 8-mile round-trip, for a total of 10ish miles. Hmm, can I do that on my barely rehabbed knee?

Let's find out.

I realize as we start the hike in that we are two females all alone hiking back into a remote area of national forest that has been seeing increased levels of human smuggling from Mexico and no one knows exactly where we are or when we are due back. This worries me.

I also see large animal prints along the dirt road that I can't identify. This worries me.

I spot small humid clouds starting to form over the mountains already, and I know there are thunderstorm forecasts for the day. This worries me.

Farther along, I start to see spent shell casings littering the dirt road. This really worries me.

Within two miles, we come to a fork in the road that the brief trail description does not identify. We don't know which way to go. We see vehicle and bike tracks on the right fork disappear into a wash that seems to lead away from Elephant Head and then taper out. So we take the left fork. This dead-ends at a creek within a quarter-mile. I play with my Garmin, pressing random buttons to try and figure out where we are and where we need to go.

Elephant Head

Okay, back we go. We make marks in the dirt to tell us we already went way and it sucked, then point an arrow down the right fork and off we go into the wash and seemingly tapering off dirt road. But it doesn't taper off and we continue moving farther away from Elephant Head.

While the online description gave detailed instructions on finding the trailhead, it gives precious little insight for the trail itself. The first landmarks it gives are a mill site and a hill with radio towers, neither of which we can find and we continue moving farther away from our destination.

Part of the valley we hiked up

Three-ish miles in, we find the mill site. Whew. We are on the right track. Shortly thereafter, we find the radio towers. A trail branches to the right, up the hill with two big cairns, but I don't think this is where we are supposed to go. I mess with my Garmin again as Mo finds her compass. The printed directions tell us to go easterly, which is away from the trail. So we continue easterly.

We hiked up the slope in the foreground

This is finally bringing us around towards Elephant Head. But the dirt road is becoming smaller and smaller and the bushes are encroaching. First, it's flowery bushes leaving yellow residue on my legs. Then the acacia cat-claw starts reaching out and tearing at my lower legs. I knew I should have worn pants. I suspected this would be the case. Dang it!

Thar she blows!

Finally we top out and see Elephant Head....across a major drainage. By major, I mean major. Deep. I can hear the water but I can't see it. And the directions we have tell us to fling ourselves off the road and down the gravelly slope some who-knows-how-many vertical feet down to cross the drainage, and then back up the higher side. And that will only get us to the ridge to get us to the base of the summit!

Elephant Head from near our turnaround

We head down part way before I realize we've already gone over 5 miles. And if I keep up the hiking on this steep stuff, I could definitely re-injure my knee. And the clouds are getting darker, although we haven't heard any thunder yet. A tough decision needs to be made.

Shortly before we stopped

We choose to be prudent and turn around to head back, when we hear the shots. Someone down-canyon is shooting a shotgun. Crap. I sure hope they are gone by the time we reach them. I really don't feel like stumbling upon a) a group of illegal immigrants spending the day shooting shotguns until it's nighttime and they can go on the move again or b) JimBob and his friends shooting up a sign, cans or random women who have the stupidity to walk into their firing range.

Danger!! Mine!!

We head down the road again, through the thorns and flowers. This really hurts - it's re-scratching the scratches I already have! We play alphabet games and talk about things we've never done that we want to. We keep up a good pace and it gets hot. My Garmin starts beeping at me to tell me that a turn is approaching each time we approach a turn. I'm puzzled. How does it know? It's never done this to me before.

We traversed the slope in the foreground

I realize I must have pushed a "mark route" button or something when I fooled around with the buttons early on. This is fun - it is telling me we are on track, and tells me how many miles to go and how much time that will take.

I am hot and fried and glad that we haven't run into JimBob or anyone else. Finally, we make it to the car, 4.5 hours after we started. Whew!

Angie & Elephant Head at the end

I decide that even though it was tough, scary, scratchy and maybe planned out in too much of a haphazard way, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the hike. We manage to get ourselves lost on our drive out, but quickly get back on track and back to Tucson.

Our legs after the adventure

Bonus: I am reassured that I still have my cardiovascular base level from earlier this year. Even though my knee twinged a bit, I didn't have a problem with this hike. Yay!

Update: 10.2 miles and 3000 ft of climbing. My knee is sore but not hurting today. My glutes are the most sore, and my arm from a wipeout I had coming down (landed on my right hip/arm).

Caffeine junkie


I don't think I can give up caffeine like I've been trying to for the last few weeks. I tried to stop because I didn't like the jitters I was getting, and the way I drank my coffee - with Torani Peppermint Syrup and half-and-half - wasn't exactly good for my waist. I had already stopped drinking a diet soda at lunch back in August (you know - taking baby steps). I decided to quit the morning coffee when my wisdom teeth were pulled.

Um, let's just say that wasn't exactly the best idea.

I think I need to halt the all-or-nothing approach, and just modify my caffeine intake instead. I tried having just a small cup this morning (one-third of a mug) with some no-calorie sweetener and no creamer. It was surprisingly good - and it gave me the right amount of caffeine to boost my system, help my head become more clear and take away the headache - all without the calories.


Can't wait for this weekend

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Looking forward to Flagstaff and hiking Mt Humphreys with my friend Mo. Woo hoo!!!

check it out!

Not that I'm doing any trail running this week or last, nooo! But at least the swelling has gone down. I'm left with a few bruises and residual pain. Man, that surgery really knocked me on my ass.

I think I'll try heading out for a hike or two this upcoming weekend; I've got Humphreys at the end of the month that I need to be prepared for! Then it's the Run'n'Roll 8k that I've done for the last four years. And this year, I'd really like to run the corn maze 5k I keep hearing about. We'll see how my training goes as far as Pemberton...I haven't registered yet, because I want to wait and see how my knee does with higher mileage. I got a few weeks of double-digit miles, and then nothing (due to the surgery). I want to see how things go this month (and maybe next) before I register.

So I may have mentioned in the past that I'd like to go back to school (for Geology). Well, due to the rather unconventional life I've led, I never attended college. At all. So I sort of have to start at the beginning. At 30! Yikes! But I figure better to start now than when I'm 40 or 50 or 60. I've held this 12-year dream to attend college for too long; it's time to make it a reality. The local community college has a fast-track two-year degree program, where I attend one class a week, year-round, allowing me to still work full-time and get a two-year degree in, you guessed it, two years! That's great. If I tried to still work full-time and attend school part-time, it would take a lot longer than that traditional classes. So I'm working on getting that started this week. But I have to do assessments before I can register for anything. I'm wondering how well I'll do.... After I get the two-year degree, I can transfer to the University of Arizona and obtain my four-year degree in Geosciences at that point. Also at that point, I can determine if I want to continue as a Graduate student, or enter the workforce (I want to be a park ranger), or well, whatever! But first - I need to tackle the first two years.

Wisdom Teeth Begone


High on Percoset, with chipmunk cheeks swollen to high heaven, I'm at home on a weekday, craving a burrito but stuck drinking a smoothie. At least Tucson is home to the Best. Smoothie. Shop. Ever. XOOM JUICE!

I tried going into work this morning. It didn't pan out so well. Oh, the pain! But I didn't want to take a Percoset at work (uh, high at work? no, thanks.), so I hit up Xoom Juice & the library with a pounding head before making it home to pop some pain meds and feel better.

And feel better I do. But man, these swollen cheeks are driving me batty. And no running sucks. And apparently, my bloody mouth leaked all over the place on Tuesday (I found blood droplets on the balcony outside my door, not to mention my sheets, towels & comforter!). The laundry is piled up to the ceiling. I'm down to my last set of PJs (although I think I still have a few clean pair of underwear). I have no desire to drag my sorry ass to the laundromat to clean things. I can barely lift the laptop up to my lap to type this post (speaking of which, is this all TMI? Will I regret this when my brain's on straight?!). But I did manage to shower this morning. And put some dishes in the dishwasher. And I think I emptied the cat litter last night.

I've been told that although I was knocked out for the surgery, I cried the entire time. Chris was in the waiting room and could hear me. They had to give me more meds but that didn't stop the crying. Is that normal??? All I remember is falling asleep, hearing the doc say, "She needs more," then getting rolled out to the car, then climbing the damn stairs to my house (which I apparently flipped off), then vomiting. And vomiting some more. Yeah, that was fun.

At least the teeth are gone, though, so hopefully once I'm healed, it'll all be worth it. I just want the swelling to go down by Saturday, when I have to:
1. Register Ash for soccer (in person - what an impression!)
2. Meet a few single parents in person (for the first time ever, again - what an impression!)
3. Take Ash to a birthday party.

Will I have enough energy? Will I look okay? Geez louise, I sure hope so.


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The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They make the best of everything.

I lost this much...

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

One Year: How I went from a Non-runner to a Recreational Runner to an Ultrarunner

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2008 is the previous archive.

October 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Race Reports:

Angie approaches 17

April 26, 2008: Zane Grey 50k, Payson, AZ - 30 miles for my 30th Birthday - Report and Photos

Mama and Angie round the curve to the finish

April 6, 2008, A Lark in the Park 5k, Phoenix Zoo, AZ, Report and Photos

Angie in the orange shirt

Nov. 22, 2007: Thanksgiving Cross-Country Classic, Tucson, AZ, Report Run'n'Roll07 004

Oct. 7, 2007: Jim Click Run'n'Roll 8k, Tucson, AZ, Report

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

June 2, 2007: Meet Me Downtown 5k, Tucson, AZ, Recap

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

May 6, 2007: Cinco de Mayo 10k, Tucson, AZ, with Paki (my first 10k ever!) Recap

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

March 30-31, 2007: Ragnar Relay Del Sol, Wickenburg to Scottsdale, AZ, as part of the Performance Footwear Team, Recap and Photos


November 23, 2006, Tucson, AZ: Thanksgiving Day Cross-Country Classic with Team Run Like a Girl - Setting a PR! Recap


October 1, 2006, Tucson, AZ: Jim Click Run & Roll with Recap

Angie at the finish of Sugar & Spice 50k

June 10, 2006, Cave Run Lake, KY: Sugar & Spice 32 Mile Ultramarathon with Results... plus Recap Part 1 and Recap Part 2, also Pictures! and more Pictures!

Ash and Mama run to the finish line

April 22, Tucson, AZ: Spring Cross Country Classic 5k: Recap and Pictures


April 15, 2006, Sabino Canyon, Tucson, AZ Sabino Canyon Sunset Run: Recap and Pictures

Coming into the mid aid station at Pemberton

February 4, 2006, Pheonix, AZ Pemberton 50k, my first ultra: Recap Parts One and Two, also Pictures

Iron Girl Mother/Daughter 5k

December 2005, Tempe, AZ Iron Girl Mother/Daughter 5k:Recap and Pictures

Angie at the Cactus Cha-Cha 7 miler

October 2005, Phoenix, AZ Cactus Cha-Cha 7-mile: Pictures

Angie and Paki at their first race together

September 2005, Tucson, AZ Jim Click's Run&Roll 8k: Pictures

Angie at the finish line of her first race

August 2005, Flagstaff, AZ Soldier Trail 5k, my first race: Pictures

Crew Reports:

p>March 1, 2008: Crewing for Olga, at the Old Pueblo 50 mile. Report (photo link at the end of the report)

Oct. 26-28, 2007: Pacing for Kirk at Javelina Jundred, Reports: Part I and Part II

April 28, 2007: Olga's Crew Pinky Report on Zane Grey 50 Mile Race

March 4, 2007: Volunteer report from Old Pueblo 50 Mile Endurance Run

February 4, 2007: Volunteer Report from Twin Peaks 50/50

April 27 (?), 2006: Volunteer Report from Zane Grey 50 Mile Race