"So my friend is doing a 100 mile race and he wants me to come run through the night with him as a pacer and I think I want to do it."
This is the sentence that led to Jon's craziest stunt of the year.
Unfortunately for him and our schedule this spring, his training time for his 25+ run/hike was not sufficient. So a few days before the race, he expressed his concern at being able to run all night long and then get in a car that morning and drive back safely (Scarlet's dance recital was that afternoon).
"Why don't we just go with you? I will sleep while you run and drive us back."
And that was my sentence of doom.
We literally decided the night before to make this happen. The plan was to take off for Bryce Canyon as early as possible, after getting important stuff done like, you know, packing. Then, we would hike around with the kids, set up our sleeping area, get a fire going, eat some food and then send Jon on his merry way while we got some sleep.
It was a fine plan and we headed out the door only 30 minutes later than we scheduled, laden with bedding and some food, with plans to pick up more on the way. And then things started to go badly. There was the snail traffic trying to get through the canyon to St. George, there was the extremely long lunch break in St. George (but kinda necessary due to how long we had already been in the car). And then there was the time Asher threw up. All of these little mishaps led up to a car trip to Cedar City, usually made under 3 hours made in over 5 hours. And, we hadn't gone to the grocery store yet. By the time we made the final 2 hour drive up the mountain (we also hadn't calculated how long that would take) we were going to just barely make it in time for Jon to meet his friend and start the race.
So, we found our way to the meeting spot, Jon got all of his warmest running duds on (sun was going down by now and it was getting chilly really quickly) and the kids and I wandered around the forested mountain area and watched the runners come into the checkpoint.
We had only been there about 45 minutes when Garrett came running up the path. He took a short nourishment break and then they took off up the mountain.
And it was not until that moment that I realized it was now just me and my three children. On a mountain. For the night.
Garrett's girlfriend, Amy, was going to be camping in the area with us and it was nice having another adult around, but since it was someone I barely knew, it wasn't exactly like having a second set of hands. We hopped in the truck and found our way back to the camping ground.
I then got to make a fire by myself (my first since my girls camp days) and help my children cook their dinner while also keeping Asher from jumping into the fire pit.
Luckily, Jon had packed some headlamps so we threw them on and made our way to the bathroom. The kids then jumped around the front of the truck while I haphazardly tried to put together a bed in the back of the truck with just the light of my little headlamp. Maybe the cold was slowing down my brain processing, but it took me until this moment to realize that I was about to attempt to sleep outside on a night that was getting colder and colder by myself with my three crazy, not good at sharing sleeping space, frequently have to pee in the middle of the night children. Not to mention my ever growing belly and constant need to pee myself.
But what was there to do but pile all four of us back there and get as cozy as possible? We snuggled all in a row, Scarlet on the far end followed by Rhode, Asher and then myself. We marveled at the amazing amount of stars overhead and tried our hardest to find a shooting star. We found a few satellites floating by and saw a couple of airplanes. The cold had one benefit, there was no way any of my children were going to leave the comfort of their blanket/sleeping bag layers for anything.
But it was getting late and they were all still giggly and wide awake and I saw the disaster that was going to be that night looming in the air...
And that is when the camping miracle happened.
Within about 30 seconds of each other, all of my children fell asleep. Rhode and Scarlet pulled their heads under the blankets to keep their faces warm and I did not hear one peep from them until morning. Asher also quickly drifted off to sleep but continued to readjust through the night. He kicked me out of my spot a few times during the night but he did not once wake up. I definitely didn't sleep as well as they did, but I was always grateful for how much worse it could have been.
Jon arrived at the car at about 4:30 a.m. and he was cold to the bone. We pulled him into our little truck bed of warmth and layers and it still took about 15 minutes of violent shivering before he was able to warm up enough to sleep. He told me later that was one of the hardest things he has ever done. In total, they hiked 30 miles through the night up and down the mountains of Bryce Canyon. His friend was in such distress, he couldn't actually talk the whole time so Jon kept them going by talking non stop for the entire hike, seeing only what their headlamps could show them of the path ahead.
About an hour later, the sun came up and it was time to hit the road again. We packed everyone up and were able to make it back to Las Vegas incident free in less than 5 hours total.
For all of the potential disaster, it turned out to be a pretty amazing experience for both of us. One we will not soon forget... nor tempt again any time soon!