Switchbacks and Haircuts

Saturday’s trail run was interesting. My younger son, Carson, wanted to come so Gwen came along to hike a newly opened trail with him while I ran. This time I wanted to increase my distance so I looked at the nice colorized map they had posted and picked out a three mile loop with a section of trail I had not done before. “I’ll just go around this one twice,” I told her.

The new Granite Falls trail, which they would take, split off in a quarter mile from the Turnbuckle trail that I had chosen.

gwen-and-carsonIt was a beautiful morning – the birds were chirping, a breeze was blowing and my hair looked good. Off I went ahead of them.

Boy, this starts off steep, I thought as I went up along the mountainside. I looked over at the new trail noticing how nice and level it was, winding between the hills. I hustled as much as I could (and pushed too hard too early – rookie mistake) and thought, Hope I can get around the corner soon so they don’t see how slow I’m going. Gwen would later show me her phone, “Here’s a picture I took of the trail. You’re right there,” she said pointing to my red shirt. I KNEW I should have worn the camo shirt.

Around the corner the trail leveled out and I booked it. Woo hoo! Now I’m cooking with gas! A gradual but mild incline around to the back of the mountain. As I was about to turn another corner, I heard voices behind me and saw Gwen and Carson coming around the bend.

What the heck?! How did they get so close? Carson raised his arms and ran down the trail “Weeee!” We had passed the split-off for their trail, so I yelled, “You’re on the wrong trail!” They both froze and looked at me. It was then that I noticed it wasn’t them. It was another mother and her daughter and I think I scared the crap out of them.

“Is that man threatening us? Stay close, Susie!” I turned and continued around the corner, determining that anything else I said would only come across as creepy. I’ll just put some distance between us.

I came around the back of the mountain and my eyes grew as big as cueballs at the sight of what awaited: The Switchbacks from Hell.

switchbacks-from-hell“That doesn’t look so bad, Doug. What are you complaining about?” This picture doesn’t do it justice because you can’t see the angle at which I’m looking up. I actually got a crick in my neck.  They’re tiny in the picture, but if you look closely you can see used oxygen canisters along the path. Base Camp 4 is just beyond that bush on the left.

Along the way, I came across far wiser people than I who took this way down. One flushed man said, “I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon before and this is worse.” He told me about a short trail near the top that leads to a vista point.

Another lady on her way down with a dog only laughed when I asked if I was almost there. Her dog pooped on the trail to accentuate the absurdity of my question.

Huffing and puffing, I climbed the switchbacks one at a time, taking frequent rest stops disguised as photo ops. Somewhere around halfway, the lady and her daughter caught up to me and quickly passed. The mom pulled out her phone while grabbing her daughter’s hand – predialed to 9-1-1 no doubt. I had in mind to say something clever and witty but was too winded to speak.

Eventually, I made it to the top and felt immensely proud! Here is a panoramic shot.

pano-from-the-peakThe path straight ahead leads to the vista point which was tempting but it was a quarter mile further and I was way behind already.

Obviously, the downhill was faster and I ran most of it, satisfactorily passing the lady and her daughter. I got to the bottom and thought, there’s no way I’m doing that twice. So I intended to catch up to Gwen and Carson along the other trail, but she was already waiting under a tree, taking my picture.

meWhen I got home, I decided to go get my hair cut. A friend had given me a card for a free haircut with the VIP treatment at Sport Clips. Have you heard of this place? It was amazing! You go in and there’s a big screen tv in the waiting area showing football.

After exchanging the standard greeting grunts with the other guys, I sat and watched Notre Dame. Then she called me back, sat me down and cut my hair. As always, I produced a plastic baggie and asked her to save the clippings. “Someday, scientists will find a way to reattach them and I want to be prepared.”

After that, she said, “This way,” and walked into a dimly lit back room. I was a little worried. “If this is about the hair, you can keep it,” I told her. “Bald is beautiful.”

There in the little room were a couple of chairs and sinks. Oh, she just wants to rinse my hair, I thought. She had me sit down and lean back with my head in the sink. Then she pulled up a footrest and turned on the chair. Yes, she “turned on” the chair. It was a massaging recliner! How cool is that? Actually, it was more like one of those vibrating tabletop electric football games that shakes the little players up and down the field. But it was nice and I was pretty sure the whole rig  would have me vibrating across the floor and bumping into a wall. Then she massaged my scalp and put a hot towel on my face (not sure what that was about). After a few minutes of that, she dried my head and brought me back out front where she turned on a neck massager and did my neck and shoulders.

“This is heaven on a lollipop stick!” I said, glancing to the guys in the bleachers whose mouths were hanging open. Seriously, after it was over I wanted a cigarette. I didn’t care what my hair looked like. Hair? What hair? Don’t tell Gwen, but on the way out I grabbed about five more of those cards.

That night, I ran another three miles around the hood and slept soundly, dreaming about electric football games and being tased on the trail by protective mothers.

Cool runnings to you, my friends!


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