Return to Craft’s Peak

 A year ago, I watched as my good friend Johnny ran up a steep mountain side. His girlfriend Alicia, one of my very best friends, and I were hiking on the journey to Craft’s Peak, way behind him.

    I cannot believe your boyfriend is running that; he’s crazy!”

    I told Alicia, shaking my head.

   It’s now the following October and today I ran Craft’s Peak for the first time.

   Yes, I ran up that same steep, rock strewn hill that a year ago flabbergasted me that my good friend, who is fifteen years older than me, ran so easily.

    I am so proud of myself and all I have accomplished in the last year.

   2012 brought some major changes to my life. I was almost divorced.  I bought a house. I ran my first 10 K. I ran most of the way up Southern California’s Mt Baldy, before getting extreme pukeage altitude sickness.  My ex destroyed my car. I bought a brand new car. Besides the destroyed car, the ex I wish to forget and the puking on Mt Baldy this year has been just fantastic.

      When I hiked Craft’s Peak last year I had just started running and it was very hard for me to keep up with Alicia and barely eke out four miles a day on our steep mountain roads. I have made so much progress in the last year. It is just an incredible transformation

     A year ago I watched Johnny run up a mountain and thought to myself. I will never ever be able to do that.
     This morning I ran up that same mountain.
     It’s nine a.m. and I just summited Craft’s Peak for the second time in my life.
     This time I ran ninety percent of the way up the mountain.
     It was hard; I’m not going to lie.

    My run began in Green Valley Lake on a dusty dirt road, 2N13. I parked my Subaru at the junction of this road and Snow Slide Road and started running up hill. I kept running up hill for three miles and with over nine hundred feet in altitude gain.

     When I did this run a year ago, we approached Craft’s Peak from the South side. The trail had burned in one of the recent fires and we got way lost on the trek up. I think this hike took us over something like nine miles. It was an intense hike, up mountains down mountains, oh shit that was the wrong mountain back down and then up again.

   Today was much better. The road that goes through Green Valley Lake is a direct route. It’s much shorter and much steeper. Some parts of the trail feel like I am climbing almost straight up, holding onto roots, slowing my gait as I pull myself up the dirt trails on this autumn afternoon in a slightly over cast forest.
    When I reach the saddle of the mountain, I am so happy, until I realized I still have another mile and a half of running to go to the summit which I can see in the distance.

   This should break me, but I’m over eight thousand feet high at this altitude and for some reason the alpine forest over eight thousand feet is just stunning. Lodge Pole Pines grow only at these very high elevations. They crave the cold and the wind and they are a magnificent and beautiful part of the conifer family. The views of the high desert and Lake Arrowhead to the North are brilliant on this early morning. To the East of me I can see the sun shining off the cold waters of Big Bear Lake. It is mostly over cast and cool and such a gorgeous fall day for this very hard uphill run. I am so thankful to be here. There is nowhere else I would rather be on an October morning than running through a silent national forest.
     Tomorrow is my first half marathon and I know for a fact it is going to be great. This run today will be about seven mile prep. I got in a few hundred feet of altitude training today so I feel very prepared.
    I’m currently sitting on a granite stone at the top of Craft’s Peak, amazed I have cell phone coverage up here and Internet; yea smart phone! It is time to hit the trail again and run out of this gorgeous fall forest and back home to my cabin.