Yeah, really. At this point I have very few photos to prove that it happened. Just some cruddy camera phone pix. I'll put them up on this post.
One of my marching partners, Nick, took real quality photos and I'll post them as they arrive, later on. (UPDATE: May be able to post these today...)
Jesse, Nick, and I drank the night before. Probably not recommended. We loaded up on dried fruit at an Albertsons. Here's a pic of Jesse giving up on the automatic check out machine.
After about 3 hours of broken sleep we woke up at THREE THIRTY. Probably not recommended. Got to the base at 4:30am. The march didn't begin until 7:15. I don't remember much about the time in between. Except maybe the sunrise on the Organ Mountains that surrounded us.
We started our walk at 7:17am. There were over 5000 marchers. 90-95% of them were military. That should have been a hint. The first 1/2 was uphill. Some of the ground was paved, most wasn't. We took breaks for snacks and leaks. I swapped shoes and socks out at mile 10. And again at mile 19. It seemed as if a lot of people were not finishing, most of them being military. I am not tougher than them, I just wore more comfortable shoes. They had to march in their boots.
The toughest part was the wind. Wasn't warned about that part. Hopefully, I'll have some pics of this at some point. Having dirt blow heavy into one's face for most of 11 hours does not make the travel easier, nor make the time pass quicker. It also makes one brown from head to foot.
My $7 hat was pretty money. My worries of sunburn were unfounded as I applied sunscreen on 6 separate occasions. I held up better than I thought. Until mile 20.
Mile 20 to 22, dubbed the Sand Pit, is a cruel joke. It's not just uphill, it's UPHILL. In sand deeper than your foot. Did I mention the wind? My back gave out about then. Then my knee. Then my feet. I was on the verge of turning into a whiny child. Didn't want to do it anymore. But then I did it anyway. And then, before mile 23, the land led downward. And it was a numb mindless walk/limp to mile 25...
...when we opened up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. That was awesome. I credit Jesse with that idea. We were delirious at that point anyway. Some of the marchers shouted support. They were just thinking of that great cold beer waiting for them at the other end.
And we finished. We bought beer. It hurt to walk. We got home and collapsed on the floor. Here's one of Nick's blisters.
I got 10.5 hours of sleep. Jesse and Nick slipped in and out of consciousness over a period of 14 hours. It seems as if I got out of it with the fewest injuries and blisters -- not because I'm tougher, but because I had the lightest backpack. The balls of my feet are bruised, but recovering. It still feels like I have dirt in my lungs.
And just to be funny, I went to the gym this morning.