I guess it's official. I'm in the off-season. I made the decision to skip XTERRA Nationals (too much money, too much training) and just enjoy the fall here in Arizona exploring new places. This past weekend taught me that the off-season might just be hazardous to my health.
While hiking with friends on Granite Mountain in Prescott, AZ I came face to face with decisions and situations that are best left to Survivor Man and Bear Grylls. Almost to the summit of Granite Mountain the four of us (plus our brave pooch) experienced a sudden change in the weather. Dark clouds became pitch black, it rained, hailed, and lightning started crashing down around us. As we were several miles above the tree line we started a fear inspired run down the mountain. One particularly large lightning strike forced us under the partial cover of a large boulder where we crouched on our boots and and tried to formulate a plan. Forced to leave shelter by the fear of hypothermia, as a result of sitting cold and wet, we entered back into the melee on the mountain and continued running. The switchbacks down the mountain were quickly flooded and we should have expected that the dry canyon we hiked up would now be flooded, but we did not.
Once under the cover of the tree line we rejoiced in our safe descent and set out on a safer and more comfortable pace for the car. Not a 1/4 mile down the trail was the first of many torrents of water that impeded our way. Raging waist deep water in some parts and increasing volumes coming off the mountain and from the sky made our decisions to cross parts of the trail questionable, but again, fears of hypothermia and an ignorant focus on the proximity of a warm car drove us to cross ever deepening bodies of water.
Thankfully we all made it out without injury, although plenty cold and definitely shaken. Next time I see dark clouds on the horizon I will be thinking twice, and I plan to buy a bigger camelbak with a little more room for some extra preparation - just in case.