Someone said there were 480 stairs here, but I didn’t count them. We started heading up them around mile 8 of the “Stairway to Heaven” 1/2 marathon trail run, so I wasn’t in a counting mood. Instead, I was in a mood to use the excuse of documenting to stop climbing, and the photos I got throughout the race are all similar in that way and thus highlight the more painful moments of today’s experience.
The course took us around a sizable portion of Mission Trails park, including to the top of South Fortuna, which was the 5th peak I needed to conquer to complete the “5 Peak Challenge,” that the park offers. The others I climbed on previous visits. I can pick up a certificate at the Visitor center sometime.
The one thing going for us today was that it was cloudy for the first couple hours. This race was the third of a four race series of trail runs, and the one I was most reluctant to do because of heat this time of year. I don’t think the weather has been this forgiving in years past, and I doubt it will be again, so I’m okay with calling today’s race an “x in the block.”
Before the stairs, at around mile 3 we climbed this fun hill, called “the widow maker.” It took us up to a saddle between North and South Fortuna peaks. Fortunately, what goes up must come down, and on the backside we followed a rolling loop of a trail that was the most scenic part of the run, prior to the stairway. Because it was pleasant and fast, and I was feeling good, I didn’t stop for pictures.
The last couple miles were relatively flat through an area called the Grasslands. That was a bit of a relief, but since the clouds had cleared the heat compensated for the elevation to continue the torture. Therefore: photo time.
The only photo taken when I wasn’t in agony was this “before” race pic.
Because “after” we were considerably dirtier, smellier, and less inclined to an upright position, we didn’t manage a picture. But since there is nothing like pain to make you appreciate its absence, we were still smiling.