We survived the first half of our runcation!
Our original plan was to leave first thing Sunday morning, but my partner in crime was summoned to work (remotely), so we got a later start. A much later start. My dear friend (and host home in Reno) Vanessa dropped us off at the base of Ralston Peak. It was nearing dark, but the suspense of starting the journey was worse than the night before a marathon, so we decided to get a few miles in before dark. After running 2.25 miles, it was completely dark, so we found the best option possible to set up camp. The best option was an area clean of brush. On a hill. While packing our packs we had decided to share one sleeping bag (didn't have room in the packs for more than one), so all Sunday night we took turns hanging onto the other as we were constantly sliding down the hill. Oh yeah, and silly us, we didn't put on the rain fly (too much work in the dark), so we were cold and had the almost full moon blinding us all night. Wah wah.
As the sun came up, we packed up camp, collected our bear sack full of food and started our climb. We went all of the way to the top of Mount Ralston: 9430 feet. The view: spectacular.
Our mission continued down the mountain through streams and very rocky terrain. More rugged than I expected, but gorgeous nonetheless. We stopped for lunch at Lake Aloha. I set up our MSR Windburner and made ramen while we just basked in the glory of the moment. Before we continued we filtered some lake water for our packs (the Squeeze Water Filtration system is my new favorite gadget. Works like a dream and is so easy to pack!) and continued on.
After a handful more rocky miles, we decided to attack one more big climb before setting up camp for the evening. As usual, Adam lead the way and I trailed behind. All of a sudden Adam starts yelling my name. I couldn't figure out why he was yelling at me, ummm hello?!?! Then he pointed at the bear. Yes, the bear. We tried doing what all of the books say and made a lot of noise, but us yelling and clapping (who hikes with pots and pans?!) just made it sound like we were cheering for the bear. Either way, he didn't like it and started hissing (Adam called it a growl, but I swear it was a hiss) and sat right next to the trail staring us down. So…..back down we went and set up camp by Lake Gilmore. Our day ended with a total of 12 miles under our feet.
As soon as we started setting up camp it started to rain, then a little bit of hail. That meant we set up the tent and jumped inside for nap time. Once the little weather moment passed, we made dinner, hung up our bear sack away from the camp and went to bed.
In the middle of the night we heard some happy bears. I was hoping I was just dreaming, but when I awoke Tuesday morning my fears were realized. Bears (or as I now refer to them, the Thugs of the Forrest) took our entire bear sack full of food and sunscreen and ripped apart our neighboring campsite's bear sack as well. It was Tuesday morning and we had zero nutrition and zero sunscreen (and we were pretty burnt from Monday's hike/run) to get us through Thursday, our original ending date. We searched for our bear sack for about an hour and then realized we had no other option but to abort mission. I'll admit, I cried. I'm not a quitter and this damned bear forced me to surrender. Our phones had no service 90% of the time and very spotty service the rest, so I texted my friend Vanessa about a thousand times, hoping at least one text would get through, and asked her to meet us at the nearest road (about 4.5 miles from our campsite). Then we started hiking/running. Running after not having eaten anything for 14 hours is not the most enjoyable experience, but we made it. Somehow, Vanessa got our text and rescued us with food in tow.
We resigned ourselves to Plan B after that. Our original runcation plans were a complete wash, everything we planned was out the window. We would consider Vanessa's home in Reno our home base and do day runs on the mountains each day and then relax in a real bed. More on that later….