Day Creek Runaround

I made the mistake of lying down on my bed. In front of two fans. After my shower.

I’m starving. But I can’t get to food.

And this little man wants to go for a walk.

But I can’t make my legs work.

It’s all Skratch’s fault.

He’d been talking about Broad Mountain Run since he and Master Mountain Junkie started work on the trail.

And it felt like a dare.

So I said I was gonna go.

Which made Beautiful Beastie’s momma instincts kick in.

“Don’t go alone, Sunshine. We’ll take you Saturday.”

But then she and Tiny Brazilian made the mistake of running the route Wednesday.

And called it North Fucking Mountain’s cousin.

And that was really all I needed to hear.

So BB suggested Day Creek.

Psht. 13 miles? I’m in.

“We’ll do the 20 mile route.”

Oh.

Ok.

But I get to sleep in, right?

Cool.

And so six of us met up. And set out on the trail.

Rogue and Tiny Brazilian and I had done this trail a few times before.

But it wasn’t until we were about a mile in that one of us pointed out that we were not on the right trail.

Yeah, we’re definitely supposed to be climbing up some bullshit fire road. In the full sun. For 2 1/2 miles. What we’re on right now is almost…pleasant.

This is definitely not right.

We could turn around and go back to the right trail.

I don’t wanna go back to that trail.

I mean, this has to take us up to the Parkway eventually, right?

So, Everyone’s Favorite Husband consulted a map. On his phone. And we decided to continue on.

He consulted his tiny phone map a few more times, before pointing out that he didn’t have his glasses with him.

Well…cool.

But we were committed to seeing this through.

Obviously Rogue was and I were fine. Rogue didn’t even have to say “let’s see where this goes.” We were all just seeing where this goes automatically.

We were getting unknown adventure without even having to be irresponsible about it.

And thank goodness we did.

Because it went someplace magical.

This trail. It was beautiful. I’m not sure any of us thought to take any photos. Because people insisted on running it. But it was gorgeous.

There’s a spot where you can see to the other side of the Parkway.

Which maybe caused a moment of panic. Because we were trying to get onto the Parkway. But BB assured me that was not the part of the Parkway we were trying to get to.

Ok. Cool. I’m fine.

It was really quite enjoyable.

And then the climb started.

Holy hell.

That climb…was relentless.

And we kept trying to compare it to other bullshit climbs we’ve done.

I think Elevator Shaft was where we landed.

And the heat was starting to kick on.

And I was going through my water at a decent clip.

And we were only a few miles in.

And this shit just kept climbing. Forever.

But finally. About 82 miles, or maybe only 4 miles, but if felt like 82 miles up. We found the Parkway.

And sweet mother I’ve never been so happy to see road.

It was probably the most beautiful stretch of road I’ve ever run on.

You can see right into Downtown Roanoke and all the way over to Lynchburg at the same time…

Ok. Obviously I’m not the one who discovered this. But I did recognize Roanoke. After BB pointed it out. A few times.

Around 5 miles in, we came up on the bullshit fire road that we were supposed to have climbed up. At the start.

Huh. Look at that.

And here’s where people started doing math.

Because Rogue had to leave early to do adulting shit. And EFH had to leave early to do other adulting shit. And I was just praying we wouldn’t stick to the 20 mile route. Because I clearly didn’t have enough water for 20 miles in this heat. Let alone 22.5.

But we decided to continue onto the next trail for a bit. And see what happened.

And it was also beautiful.

Surrounded by rhododendrons or mountain laurel or some kind of beautiful flower. BB said the names a few times. But I was just trying to keep myself moving. I didn’t have space in my brain to retain floral information.

We hit a few of the overlooks.

(This one actually came earlier, but it’s the only one I photographed)

And at the 6 or 7 mile point we sat down to regroup.

I pulled out one of my snacks.

Some lettuce wraps. That looked…like maybe they had been eaten once. Or twice. Before. So I threw those away.

K-Rob-D pointed out that I didn’t have to try so hard. With the healthy eating thing. “It’s ok to just eat shit sometimes.”

And as BB was still holding on to the idea of the full 20 mile route. I was focused on heading back.

And Finn’s Dad said something about knowing limits. That later I would wish I had paid more attention to.

And BB was still throwing out names and numbers and shit.

I definitely don’t have enough water for 20 miles. And since I just threw one of my snacks away, I also don’t have enough food for 20 miles.

And so BB threw out another potential route. That she thought might be around 15 miles. In the shade. That Master Mountain Junkie had talked about.

And here.

Here’s where it happens.

Here’s where I would be the most lackadaisical runner in the world. If I wasn’t surrounded by these badasses.

Because BB gave K-Rob and I about 1.6 seconds to decide if we were turning back. Or continuing on.

And as my brain was processing whether or not my body could manage a 15 mile run in this heat, she decided for us.

“You’re going. Come on.”

And so we went.

Apparently I’m not the only compliant one.

And it was definitely not shaded.

We were definitely running along the open face of some mountain.

Where the snakes absolutely live.

And my body was slowly dying.

But then we got to this wall.

Which was absolutely the coolest spot in Virginia yesterday. And I wanted to stay there. And just press my body against the wall. Forever.

But then I remembered my lack of food and water. And trudged on.

K-Rob tried to make me go in front of her a few times.

I don’t want to. This isn’t a race. You can’t make me. I should be sweeping. This is where I belong.

And then we hit more of those flowers.

And it was beautiful again.

Until it wasn’t.

And I was shoveling cashews and dried mango slices into my face. Just trying to maintain some level of energy.

And I kept looking at my Strava. And moving numbers around in my head. And it was becoming increasingly clear that this was not going to be a 15 mile run. And we were gonna end up with damn near 20 miles anyway.

And we were desperately looking for water sources.

Because I’d run through my 2 liters of water miles ago.

And we found one. And K-Rob pulled out her filter. And I pulled out my bladder. And as I was about to just stick my bladder right under the flowing water, BB stopped me.

“Smart choices, Sunshine. If there’s a water filter available, there’s no reason to chance it. There could be a dead deer up stream.”

I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? But ok.

And I made K-Rob filter water for me at least two more times.

At one point, we were standing in the middle of a small creek. Blanketed in bugs. As she tried to filter enough water for both of us. And decided that dehydration was better than malaria.

And all of those cashews and mangos had formed a solid pocket of gas right in my stomach. Or wherever. So I looked a good 3-4 months pregnant. But it was also refusing to come on out. In any form.

But the hiccups were kicking in.

So, I was starving and dehydrating and hiccuping and trying to keep the pools of sweat from burning my eyes while carrying a 4-month old gas fetus as I continued to try to make myself run.

Just pure misery.

Around the 17 mile mark. When this fucking trail would not stop climbing. And the fucking heat would not stop increasing. And I was certain that we’d never see our cars again. I started messaging with Finn’s Dad.

Because I needed to know that it was possible. To make it out of there.

And he sent me inspiring photos. Of what was waiting back at the cars.

And that both inspired and angered me.

WHY am I still out here????

And around 17 miles in, we came up on some folks on horseback.

And one of the dudes said we were only about a mile from the parking lot. And it was all downhill after we round that bend.

And he was a fucking liar.

Because we kept going up.

And finally Finn’s Dad messages. Saying he can hear TIny Brazilian. And thank fuck.

That. That was awful.

And as we sat there.

Enjoying our post-run rewards.

We decided.

That we absolutely have to do that again.

And this is why I love these people.

Also, I took the ole man for his walk. So he could see his girlfriend.

In case you were worried I wasn’t treating him well.

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