Day 9, Sunday, September 27th
Gateview to Blue Mesa Reservoir
Katie Raines, Naples, FL
Sophia Martinez, Danville, CA
Gabby Martinez, Danville, CA
Ashley Griffiths, Lymington, UK
Last night, we all gathered around the map after Tory and Pam had made a run into Gunnison (the direction I was heading in the morning). They came back fairly concerned with the road safety of the next day as the shoulder was almost obsolete and who knows what the traffic would be like. After some discussion we saw a possible route of CR-26, which would bypass the highway for most of the mileage. Vaughn and Tory then took off to find the mileage/condition of that road and Vaughn’s last words were, “We’ll see ya in about an hour”…. 2.5 hours later and pitch black, Pam and I were sitting around the campfire contemplating whether or not we should jump in the truck to go rescue them. Did their car break down? Did they run out of gas? No service… so who knows. Minutes before Pam had a complete anxiety attack, we saw headlights. Good news..they were safe! Bad news… the road wasn’t accessible.
So, on the shoulder-less highway of 149 we took off just after dawn to avoid as much traffic as we could. I started the morning with a good 3 mile climb, then descended 2.5 miles into a one-horse town, then immediately climbed for another 3 miles….then it was slightly downhill the remainder of the 16.1 miles to Blue Mesa Reservoir. I obeyed the law and ran into traffic when the road ahead was visible… if not then I ran on the right side of the road, with Vaughn behind me in “Big Blue” (our nickname for the RV) protecting me from the crazies on the road. Every time a car would come up on us, he would give me a gentle “honk honk” to make me aware to be prepared to dive into the sage brush on the side of the road.
The day was fairly uneventful. There were basically no trees, so I was subject to the sun again. But luckily it didn’t get too hot until about 12 miles left. However, the combo of the heat on the black asphalt and the downhill grade, my feet were beginning to hurt pretty bad. There’s no way to prevent your toes from being jammed in the front of your shoes when repetitively pounding the pavement downhill. I stopped with 9 miles to go to grab a snack and check on my feet. Let’s just say they weren’t good. Blisters on blisters. Tory and I did some doctoring, put on dry socks, then slid on my shoes to start at it again.
The first few steps are always the most painful, then they start to go numb. By about 1 mile in, they were numb enough to run with a semi-normal gait and charge to Blue Mesa Reservoir. One foot in front of the other… on step at a time… just “Keep moving forward”. I thought of dear Katie Raines today when the steps were so hard (as I have several days so far on this journey). Katie’s mother, Lenora Raines, contacted me when I announced Move Mountains. She told me of her daughter Katie and that she lost Katie to SUDEP. Lenora gave me words of wisdom that I have carried with me when those steps get heavy and hard. As Katie fought epilepsy, she used the words “Keep moving forward” to give her courage and strength. Thank you Katie and Lenora… you are with me sweet Katie, every step you’re in my heart and when things get hard you’re in my mind.
Suddenly, around a bend, Blue Mesa Reservoir came into sight… I was almost there. I rounded the bend and saw a bridge way up in the distance. I looked at Vaughn and desperately asked, “Is that my bridge?”… “Yes!”, he said. I was almost done for the day. It looked like it was 4 miles ahead, but my watch said only 1.5 miles until the end of my projected mileage for the day. Keep Moving Forward!!! I tried to focus on anything but the pain in my feet and the doubt in my mind for the distance to go. The smell of fish from the lake, the smell of sage as my feet stomped through on the side of the road, the sound of Marcus’ drone as he captured the last minutes of the run that day. Then I saw a straight shot to the bridge… I made it. 24.6 miles and I walked across HWY 50 to where Tory and Marcus were waiting for me.
We jumped in the cars, headed to Mesa Campground where we would call home for the night. Tory worked on my legs for about 2 hours that day… She said, “I work until your muscles give up”. They were definitely starting to feel the mileage at this point. As I was getting worked on, Dave from True Nature Kitchen showed up with a fresh set of meals and the new addition to our road warrior team for the next couple of days. We filled our bellies and then Tory offered to join me for a little head start on the day tomorrow. Marcus took us to where I ended a few hours earlier. We walked (me in flip flops for some toe relief) on the side of HWY 50 as cars buzzed past us. Tory got a taste of the trip from my vantage point. A bit scarier I think… but we made it 1.5 miles more than I would have if she wasn’t by my side. Thank you Tory for being so wonderful.
We went to bed with the Super Blood Moon protecting us, filling our dreams and prepping us for the next day. Once again, we finish a day with a positive mind set and ready for the next days’ adventures.
1- There are no better words for what I am doing than from the special words of Miss Katie Raines… “Keep Moving Forward”. Take that with you in life and no obstacle will knock you down!