Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lost In the Desert (Aka When Smart People Do Stupid Things)

Today is our last day in Palm Springs, before we have to head home and face things like parenting and being on call. So as a last hurrah, I decided I would run the entire legth of the Hop Along Cassidy Trail (12 miles) through the foothills skirting the edge of town. Mac is religiously following the Smart Coach program for the Eugene Marathon which called for 7 miles with 5 at tempo, so he agreed to drop me off at one end, do his run, and pick me up at the other end.

So I gathered my water bottle, a map, a cell phone, and an extra shirt to insure against the evening chill (the highs in Palm Springs have been a disappointing 68 degrees). I didn't have any food but I had an energy bar right before we left, so I wasn't worried. Mac dropped me off at 4:42 and I felt totally prepared for a two hour run.

Only one teensy little problem: Sunset was at 5:50. And when the sun goes down in the desert it gets dark fast! oops!

I am not sure what we were thinking; we have been here 4 days, so maybe we should have noticed that sunset is 25 minutes earlier than in Oregon. Also, I admit I was a bit clueless about planetary motion and daylight. I mean, I know Oregon has long summer daylight and short winter days, so I kind of assumed at the mid way point (ie. right now!) Oregon and California would be similar. And it didn't help that I was averaging 11 minute miles, not 10's.

An hour in, I was only at the 5 mile point, so I started leaving a series of messages on Mac's phone:

"Mac, I don't think I can make it to the end before sunset, so I am turning around."

"Mac, I am losing daylight fast. I may have to cut down to the city early."

"Mac, It is really dark. I am heading down. I can see the road, but I don't know how to get there."

The trail down was fairly easy to pick out, but then I had to run parallel to a wash for half mile before finding a bridge across in to the neighborhood. A nice couple pointed me to the main road, where Mac picked me up under a pitch black sky.

No harm, no foul, right?

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