Wild Canyon Games 2014

I participated in the Wild Canyon Games – Lost Canyon earlier this year. It took me a while to get around to uploading the photos. I’d like to claim a technical difficulty or something like that, but truthfully, I just got lazy. I was part of a corporate team selected by my company because we had foolishly emailed a willingness to do it. Never volunteer, kids.

This is what it looked like when we arrived:

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 059

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 060

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 062

Nice, right? I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. We arrived at around noon the day before to get acclimated to the elevation. I did a three mile run up and down some hills. It was a simpler time. A happy time.

This is what we woke up to:

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 076

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 077

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 078

That is snow. It snowed. It was snowing. And it kept on snowing. This is Arizona. We don’t do snow. I don’t do snow, anyway.

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 079

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 080

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 081

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 082

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 083

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 084

Julian Birthday and Grand Canyon 085

My 9 mile trail run was essentially being done in a blizzard. A blizzard I was woefully, hilariously unprepared for.

My glasses fogged over until I couldn’t see. I actually took them off and luckily another runner was willing to play my seeing eye dog. Thanks, Tyler! I stumbled and bumbled my way through over six miles when a race director appeared.

She told us the race was cancelled. For safety reasons. It was 28 degrees outside. 15 with the wind chill. It had been that way since before the race started. For over an hour. Now suddenly it was deemed dangerous. It had dumped over four inches of snow since the race began. I had frostbite. I had been taking turns alternately sweating with my jacket on, or freezing with it off. My hair was icicle dreadlocks. I couldn’t feel the left side of my face where the wind was blowing from. It was finally over.

She told us to take the shortcut back. We were three miles from the finish. I was eager for the shortcut. Excited, even.

I naively asked how long the shortcut was.

2.5 miles she replied. Oh, and for safety reasons we could no longer run.

Thus began a 2.5 mile freezing walk through the woods. Every part of me that had been sweating froze. Every part that was already frozen froze worse. By the time I got back to camp, I was mobbed by the race volunteers. I’d like to tell you it was because they wanted my autograph, but far more likely it was because I looked like death. I assume if I had looked like one of the white walkers from A Song of Ice and Fire (A Game of Thrones for TV fans) they would have run the other way. They wrapped me in towels. They gave me hot chocolate. They performed my last rights when they thought I wasn’t paying attention.

I heard everything.

Mercifully, it was over. Or so I thought.

They decided to continue on with the games. So we did all the challenges. We got wet. We got cold. We went to bed.

The next day was the relay race. I would like to claim we put on a good showing, but… Nike brought in two pro teams. Adidas brought in two pro teams. The Christian organization that owed the camp brought in their college track and field team. We were a group of weekend warriors and desk jockeys against people who did this for a living.

We got destroyed. Not even destroyed. We were annihilated. They scribed our names in the firmament so future generations would know how badly we had been beaten. It was not a loss. It was a SHAMING.

That said, I would do it again. Just, you know, hope for better weather. Or bring appropriate gear.

Grand Canyon Double Crossing

Recently I had the (mis?)fortune of getting to do a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. For those who are not completely insane, let me explain. It involves starting on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking across and going “Hey, I’d like to be over there!” So you go down through the bottom of the canyon, come out the North Rim, look around, and go “I’d like to be back in the other place where I started from.”  You can rest, if you can call it rest, then repeat everything in the opposite direction. You can optionally go North to South and back, but the North rim is sort of… look, there is nothing of real notable interest there. I mean, there is a lodge, but it is only open part of the year and I can’t tell you the food is great, so South to North it is. I mean, the views at the North rim lodge are great, but after spending hours crossing the damn thing, the last thing I wanted to do was look at the canyon some more. At that point the canyon can go back to hell, from whence it came.

Hey, lets cross this. Twice.
Hey, lets cross this. Twice. Lol.

It is 21-24 miles each way depending on the trails you take, and 4000+ feet down and then back up twice. It is, quite simply, a completely asinine thing to do to yourself. I did this for fun, because at some point I lost my goddamn mind and this is just what I do now. It is too late for me. Save yourself.

It also tends to be hot. Bright Angel, which I take on the way back because it has more water stops than Kaibab, has nothing for shade. There is some at Indian Garden, but everything before and after that takes places in a blighted hellscape of rocks and switchbacks and sun. So much sun. Sun until you wish for an endless, interminable night to fall. Bring on the vampires. You know who was a Bright Angel? Lucifer, the Morningstar. I can’t say the the trail is misnamed.

Seriously, this is bullshit. What the hell am I doing here?
Seriously, this is bullshit. What the hell am I doing here?

I managed to cross South to North in 7 hours 37 minutes. North to South took 8 hours 28 minutes. North to South is easier, as far more of it is downhill and you lose 1000 ft of climbing, but it is also 3 miles longer and I cached my legs on the first crossing, so running the middle was done at a lower speed than desired.

Oh thank God I am done! I am so happy... wait, what do you mean I have to go back the other way?
Oh thank God I am done! I am so happy… wait, what do you mean I have to go back the other way?

All told, it was interesting adventure. I got stopped by mule trains, lectured by rangers, and yelled at by angry hikers because they were angry. I got nausea from my electrolyte drink at the bottom of the canyon that never really went away. I could barely walk the next day. I currently have an eczema flare up on my inner joints. I have cuts and bruises I can’t explain. It was dirty. It was grueling. I had a hard time breathing on the North rim climb. I ruined my trail shoes and will have to shell out another $120 for a new pair. My brand new hydration pack is crusted with salt and dried nutrition gels.  My running gear smells like it was worn by one of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings.

I am currently considering doing it again next year. Because, as I said, I have apparently lost my damn mind. However, I am still not an ultra runner. I refuse that designation. Those guys are crazy.

Relaxing on the bridge before the hellacious climb out on Bright Angel. This is the last time I truly knew happiness.
Relaxing on the bridge before the hellacious climb out on Bright Angel. This is the last time I truly knew happiness.

Anniversary Email 10

Congratulations on your recent anniversary here at <COMPANY>. As you may know, we are an <IDENTIFYING INFORMATION> and world leader in <IDENTIFYING INFORMATION>. Your contributions have been a key component to our success. But did you know <COMPANY> is simply part of a larger Umbrella Corporation? Yes, it is true. We are invested in a variety of ventures.

For instance, deep within our secret base on the outskirts of Raccoon City, we have been experimenting with biological military applications for something we are calling the Tyrant Program. You will be happy to know we have approved a transfer for you to this new, state of the art facility.

You may have heard some rumors about numerous maulings by unidentified creatures in that area. Please do not be alarmed. We have deployed our Special Tactics And Rescue Service to the scene to identify the issue. You can rest assured that your safety is our top priority. Our agents will have the issue well in hand by the time of your arrival.

Your first assignment will be assisting in the ongoing overhaul of the security software. During this time it has been necessary to disable the existing security system and all building safeguards, but we anticipate no problems arising during this outage. There may be no one to greet you on arrival at the building, but please let yourself in. Also, do not be alarmed if the lights appear to be non operational. This is an energy saving measure we sometimes employ.

Feel free to pick up any loose items you see lying about. In particular, weapons and ammunition. This is so you can return them to security, not a result of any anticipation that you might need them to defend yourself from an onrushing horde of biologically mutated undead horrors. If you hear any shuffling accompanied by groaning, that is just the night watchman, Old Zeke. Probably best if you move along before he catches you and chews your ear off… with one of his stories. Really, don’t even look at him. Just exit the area quickly and calmly. If you hear growling or barking, run. Just run. Don’t ask why.

We assure you, everything is perfectly normal. And safe. Very, very safe. There is absolutely no reason to believe the Tyrant Virus has leaked into the water supply of the facility and turned all of the staff into a ravening horde of infected mutants that endlessly hunger for the flesh of the living. We look forward to your arrival at outbreak site T-001. Or… rather… the Arklay Mountains facility.

Oh, if you happen come across anything marked T-Vaccine, please secure these samples for us. That would be just lovely.

Congratulations again.

Anniversary Email 9


Congratulations on three years at <COMPANY>. By now I’m sure you have become acclimated to the mind worm that we placed inside of your ear during what you thought was one of our routine health screens. Perhaps your mind rebels at the very idea that your thoughts have been co-opted, nay, hijacked by the <COMPANY> corporate offices. Try to rebel. Go right ahead. You cannot. You see, here at <COMPANY> we decided long ago that loyalty was not enough. We need iron clad subservience. Hence the mind worm.

Its origins are among our most guarded secrets. In our lair, deep beneath the ice of the arctic, deranged scientists who found their work banned by more… conventional academia found a place for their wildest ideas to flourish. It took seven iterations of losing everyone in the facility to blood spattered nightmare beasts before something of value was produced. The mind worm. The scientist that created it used it to bend the others to his will, preventing another massacre at the facility from an experiment gone wrong. The value of the creature was immediately apparent. For his efforts, the inventor was shunted into the frozen waters, lest he turn his creation on his benefactors.

Of course, there are drawbacks. The mind worm must feed. Being that it dwells within the brain, well… over time you will lose certain… capacity. This is an acceptable trade off for the company. I’m certain you agree. And even if you do not, the mind worm will see to it that you do.

Congratulations again.

Anniversary Email 8

Greetings, <NAME>,

Happy 6TH anniversary, <NAME>. This is certainly an auspicious occasion. Not only your anniversary, but the imminent arrival of the thousand young of the black goat of the woods, Shub-Niggurath. While you raise a pint or two in celebration of your years of valued service, reminiscing with coworkers over your impressive body of work and the sometimes hectic nature of life at <COMPANY>, The Lord of the Wood extrudes oily black tentacles in all directions from her home in the outer darkness, seeking offerings to her vile malevolence. As you think back over your accomplishments, she thinks only of supplication, and should our meager gifts be deemed wanting, teeming hordes of her monstrous children, as black as pitch, covered in slime oozing maws that endlessly hunger, shall pour forth onto our world and rend us asunder. So please, relax and enjoy your anniversary! You have achieved many great things! And by no means should you worry even slightly about the doom that awaits us all, slavering in another dimension, unconstrained by human thought or the frailty of flesh. A doom that is writ large across the stars, and has felled countless civilizations before us.

Every end is a beginning.

Scorpion Chronicles 8

Scorpions. I have made my lands a sepulcher for you. My house is ringed is crystals that abrade your tiny shells, weakening your bodies as my words weaken your spirit. You are nothing more to me now than a common pest. No different than any other insect. Once you had my hatred, now you have my contempt. I spit on you. Perhaps if you had any courage I might still accord you the respect due an enemy. Is this what you hoped to show me? Is this all you are capable of? Your cowardice sickens me nearly as much as the sight of your monstrous, mandibled faces. What a pity that even with all those eyes you could not see what you were unleashing.

Scorpion Chronicles 7

Tonight’s kill count: 0. I have got to level with you, scorpions. When we started this thing, you really brought your A game. I mean, stinging the middle of the bottom of my foot? Exquisite agony. And the neurotoxin side effects were really something to behold. And for a few nights you provided some pretty good sport. You brazenly crawled around my yard, heedless of the destruction I might bring. But lately your heart is just not in it. You can’t even be bothered to show up. I mean, if you want to continue your place as my nemesis you have to give me something. Scuttle at my approach. Cower if you must, but at least put in some effort. This is really just sad. I mean, real grade school level hijinks, scorpions. You better show me something else. This is just getting sad.