I switched my ipod on and started plowing up the steeper incline climbing to 12,000 feet (from 9,200 in town) in just 4 miles. Another runner came towards me. Turns out he wasn't a Hardrocker but was on for a chat nevertheless. Despite all the people out here the little ground squirrels were still flitting across the road. Everything was so green. The big-leaved skunk cabbage plants were in flower and looked somewhat like triffids with their gangly stalks.
I turned around short of the top but with 5+miles and 2 hours up I was ready to go back. I tightened my pack and cranked up the pace a notch. When the Hilltop Hoods clicked onto my shuffle I had the perfect rhythm going and a smile from ear-to-ear.
About half-way down another runner was slogging up towards me. Marcie, my saviour at the Putnam Aid station, mile 95, last year. We had a great catch-up and then I ran into her partner, John, further down the hill, trying to catch up with her. He is in the race this year and Marcie will pace the back half. It was really cool catching up with all these familiar faces.
I ran the last part hard and my knee held together which is promising. 11 miles in 3+hrs. Trail marking starts tomorrow. Can't wait.