National Caliber Junior Cross Country Mountain Bike Racers
Favorite Packs: Verve 4, Raptor 6, Ace 48
Things don’t always go as planned (or as you would like), and in unexpected ways, disappointment is always lurking over your shoulder!
Last year was quite the year for us! Over the last 5 years we have been pretty focused on our mountain bike racing success. In 2012 we produced our most successful year: 2 USA Cycling XC National Championships, 2 New Mexico State Championships, 1 Colorado State Championship, 2 New Mexico Off Road Regional Point Series Championships, 1 Mountain States Cup Regional Point Series Championship, 2nd Place Team Mountain State Cup Regional Points Series Championship and 54 Podiums for our season. Sounds like a pretty full slate. However, in 2013 we really step up our diversity! We are determined not to be limited with only one skill set-our cycling abilities on our mountain bikes. Backpacking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, road cycling, running, swimming, basketball, racquetball, hiking and camping are some of the activities we enjoyed in 2012. Many of these activities were new skills for 2012!
Over the last few years, we have taken several multi-day backpacking trips to Cedar Mesa in Utah (Grand Gulch, Fish, Canyon, Owl Canyon) and the Weminuche wilderness in Colorado. In spite of a rigorous 32 race schedule, Nye, Jake and I were able to squeeze in a backpacking trip to Salt Canyon, Utah. Salt Canyon is in the Canyonlands National Park. It is famous for its archeological history/Anasazi sites. Jake and Nye have enjoyed backpacking for several years now. They feel like they pretty much know how to prepare for and execute a great trip! With our Osprey backpacks in tow and Park backpacking permits in hand, we set a pretty ambitious plan to cover 36 miles in 4 days, fitting in visits to many of the canyon’s historic sites.
We camped out the night before outside of the Park boundaries so we could be ready to start our trip early the next morning. We had 10 miles to knock out to get to our planned/assigned campsite. Spirits were high as we enjoyed our hike up the wet canyon, wash bottom. The morning light made the stone structures of the red sandstone canyon most beautiful. A few miles in Nye asked to stop for a few minutes to adjust and re-tie his boots. We quickly ate an energy bar to keep our bodies charged for the long day ahead. Pressing on, we reached Peekaboo Camp, a cool tunnel through the sandstone gooseneck and a ruin site. We eagerly checked out the petroglyphs panels, chatted with a few backpackers and a Park Ranger who were finishing up their trip and heading out of the canyon. Seeing a rare sight like this kept everyone pumped up for the next 6 miles which was going to be devoid of Anasazi sites as the Canyon became deep and narrow.
The lack of ruin sites was no issue, the canyon was still beautiful in its own right and its lush vegetation was quite unusual for a Southeastern Utah desert canyon. No more than a mile after stopping at the ruin site we noticed Nye was dragging and moving far slower than he had been previously. Unwittingly, we directed Nye to keep the pace so that we could reach our campsite early enough to enjoy some recreation time before dark. Nye’s slow pace continued! We then started noticing an unusual hitch in his stride. It was near the lunch hour so we thought a break and some food would recharge him for the last 3 miles. We picked out some slab rocks situated in the middle of Salt Creek and dropped our packs and pulled our lunch. Noticing that Nye was still walking oddly, I asked if he was alright. He said “yes”. Not buying his exclamation, I asked him to show me his feet because I had a suspicion. What was seen could only be described as DISAPPOINTMENT! A burst, blister on his heel, larger than half dollar coin. Deep down inside I knew immediately our trip was over. Maybe the boys did too, but no one wanted to acknowledge it! There was no way that Nye could backpack/hike 29 more miles let alone the 7 miles back to our vehicle! I broke out the first aid kit and addressed the blister. At that moment, knowing whether to go on or retreat was a mind numbing issue. After a few minutes of going forward reality sunk in and we made the commitment to abandon the backpacking trip that no one wanted to give up. Nye struggled to walk and was in great pain, forcing us to stop. I attempted to redress the wound. Finding comfort for him seemed impossible. Nothing was going to stop the rubbing of the boot against his heal. Alas, a revelation hit! I proceeded to cut a large hole out of the back of his boot where his blistered heel could protrude. We continued at a snail’s pace but at least this go around he could bear the pain. We made it back to Camp Peekaboo and had to commit to camp there for the night, because we lacked the daylight hours, energy (and Nye lacked the ability) to get the rest of the way out. The rest would only help for tomorrow’s task! We made the best of the couple of daylight hours we had and vowed to enjoy ourselves the best we could for what was left in our trip. The next day Nye sucked it up and made the last 4 miles back to the trailhead.
The backpacking trip we had all been so excited for, ended in utter DISAPPOINTMENT. No doubt many lessons were delivered. Time will tell how those lessons were absorbed!
The Lesson: achieving SUCCESS would be impossible without the experience of DISAPPOINTMENT! Fortunately, our DISAPPOINTMENTS are very, very rare! In their quest for success, the struggle to be the best they can be, Jake and Nye know each activity they undertake has disappointment lurking, yet they persevere! Champions do!
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