Sixty-seven Miles, One Step at a Time
By Michael Stubbs
At mile sixteen, I felt as though I had officially been adopted by the thirty-eight-year-old man in a blue shirt and black running shorts just a few steps ahead of me. Kyle Fulmer was running strong. I was running strong too, but I was running faster than usual to keep up with Kyle. I felt like he could take off at any moment and leave me behind. He insisted we stay together and I was happy to have good company, but as an average runner, I am always self-conscious. We trotted down a thickly wooded four-wheeler trail to Bayhorse, an abandoned mining town that is now part of The Land of the Yankee Fork State Park. Pine to the left of us, aspen to the right, rough rocks rolling underfoot. We followed a small stream down the canyon where the brown and black water-stained pine boards of more than a hundred years ago rose at odd angles from gray gravel mine tailings. Domed brick ovens, once used in charcoal production, sat in a row alongside Bayhorse Creek, a loud, rapidly roaring waterway that easily swallowed the little stream Kyle and I followed. We crossed the blue plastic checkpoint and heard our timing chips cause a computer to beep twice in quick succession.
Kyle ran off to greet his wife and I began to dine on boiled potatoes and gummy bears. It was the second meal I’d made of this odd combination of foods that morning. I looked around to appreciate the steep mountainsides surrounding the narrow canyon. The day was still young. The sun was not yet visible, and the morning felt cool now that I was no longer running. Trees grew at different heights in stripes, indicating where miners had once stripped the land in their search for silver impossibly high on the steep mountains. Fresh wooden fences erected by the state park service kept cars and people from loose and hazardous gravel left over from the heyday of mining, dredging, sluicing, and smelting.
I drank three glasses of ginger ale while a race official lectured me on hydration. He didn’t think I was sweating enough. I nodded vigorously to get rid of him and filled my pack with gels and candy. My hydration bladder was still full of water. The race had really only just begun. When Kyle returned, we waved goodbye to cheering volunteers and retraced our steps up the canyon trail toward a fork that would lead us to Ramshorn Mountain, more than two thousand feet above us and still miles out of sight. We ran back through the pine, the aspen, the shade, crossed our little stream, and after two or three switchbacks we entered full sunlight for the first time that day. We had been running for around four hours. We would run for another twelve and then some. Behind us, Bayhorse Creek bubbled noisily alongside the road for a mile or so until it crossed under Highway 75 and joined the Salmon River that headed back to Challis. Eventually, we’d head back there, too.