Eric, being an amazingly nice guy, would excuse himself to run ahead, and would go maybe a quarter or half a mile in front of us, and then double back to see how we were doing. He was always very encouraging, though I think both Pete and I couldn't help but be a little jealous of his fitness level!
Occasionally Pete and I would try to run for a little bit, but we would soon get short of breath and be reduced to hiking once again. Our run started at 6,000, and we would hit 8,000 once we reached the notch. As the Tahoe Rim Trail 50k that I'm doing in July takes place between 6,800 and 9,200 ft, this run was a perfect chance to see how I handled altitude. Apparently the way I handle it is slowly.
After approximately 4 miles, we reached the notch and found Jessica. It was so wonderful to have her out there and so great that she came despite being unable to run. We spent some time at the notch taking pictures, refilling water, and using the facilities, and then all headed out on the first part of the trail together.
When the trail started getting steep, Jessica opted to stay behind, to keep her foot safe from further injury, so we parted and continued on our way. As we started climbing higher, we were greeted with some truly spectacular vistas. One of my favorite points of interest were the San Bernadino Mountains in the distance.
Eric continued pressing on ahead and then doubling back to tell us about any points of interest ahead (or how far the 'runnable' section was :) ). I was really thankful that Pete was more my pace, so that I had some company on this tough climb. It was great, because whenever I was feeling in need of a break, Pete would invariably also feel the same, so we were able to stop for some breathers (though there wasn't exactly a lot of oxygen with which to breath) as we continued on our way.
Though the going was tough because of the elevation, the trail was fairly non-technical, until we reached the last few miles, which featured a bit of tricky footing. The last climb, especially, to the summit reminded me of Diablo, and made me nervous for the necessary decent that would be happening later. However, by this point I was starting to feel a little off from the lack of oxygen and decided not to think about that until I had to. Pete and I offered each other many refrains of the common question "Are we there yet?" until, finally, we arrived.
The summit was a happening place, with probably 30 or so other people up there resting, eating, and relaxing. The views from the top were great, despite the cloud cover down below. We could see Saddleback Mountain (Twin Peaks), which is the mountain near my hometown of Mission Viejo, as well as the desert to the east. According to Eric, a clear day grants you views of Catelina Island!
After resting and eating (and signing the logbook!) we headed back down. Despite my trepidations, the downhill wasn't nearly as difficult as I had feared. I still moved slowly in sections, but Eric was really great and never got too far in front of me, making sure that I was doing okay.
I was so glad to be with others that seemed to enjoy photo taking almost as much as me :) It makes the runs extra entertaining, and it really is so nice to have such great mementos from the experience.
On these more technical sections, I made sure to stop when I wanted to take photos, instead of trying to take them on the run, as I had been experimenting with for some of the day.