Waking up 4 hours after falling asleep can be quite a challenge when you’re a hibernating bear like me. Once in a while I am reminded how wonderful it can be to just suck it up and hit the trails when it’s still dark. Most of my earlier morning pictures came out very blurry and dim(go figure) so I only posted the keepers. This morning was full of wildlife and bizarre noises coming from every other bush, too much marine layer to see an actual sunrise but man it was well worth it. Enjoy the pics! (Side note: I am posting from phone so I hope quality of pictures isn’t that crappy)
I’ll be completely honest I bushwhacked the first 1/4 mile from the river gully because there was a big chain across the entrance with a sign that read: “Trail Closed- Trespassers will be CITED blah blah blah”. This is pretty much how it all started, a slow walk pace for about 20 minutes through thick brush, a few creek crossings, some orienteering by yours truly and…Bingo, the sandy Borrego Canyon Trail popped out of the bushes and trees. Continuing on, trying to pick up my pace and get a faster foot turn over was a bit hard since this is one of those sections where you barely notice the continuous but slight elevation gain. This first part of the run you are running up a wash inside the canyons. The last time I was here was last summer, hiking with my friends Ursula(Travel Mango) & Kiyomi. The heat was brutal and bounced off the canyon walls to create a nice little geothermal oven. The latest rains have washed tons of sand down the trails and left new water patterns and grooves all over, luckily everything was mostly dry in this area. Once you come up to the first trail intersection, hook a right; Mustard rd which is just that, a fire road full of mustard…just kidding but its a decent climb all the way to the Four Corners. Shortly after going on to Mustard trail you can see (before mile 2) I took a left, this is Billy Goat trail. Its just as hard as it looks from the road unless your name is Tony K. and you run the Flatirons every day haha. With a steep elevation gain that brings you to roughly 1,100 ft within your first 2 miles, its a hoot and well worth it. As with most rapidly inclining trails, you end up clear of the trees and can see straight down Borrego canyon and down the other valleys on the other side. Billy Goat trail is single track at its purest, with one point narrowing down to ridge line running, super fun. After continuing uphill for a bit more you come down steeply via switchback, I promise it looks way worse than it actually is. If you were to do the reverse of what I did, that switchback wouldn’t be nearly as hard as coming up the ridge(this is mostly directed towards “Kiyomi6peaks”). You run right past the water tower and end up at the Four Corners, which from here you decide wether you want to come back the way you came from, take Mustard rd, or three other trails. I wanted to see something new and gain a bit more elevation so I kept going on Water tank rd, and cut a sharp left up Dreaded Hill trail. Alright so up here is a bench in memory of a mountain biker, Mark Reynolds, trust me this link reference will pop up very shortly. The view from up here is amazing, you can see Santiago Peak looming in the near distance and look out to all of Orange County in the other direction. Dreaded Hill, would be totally dreaded if ran up the opposite way I was coming from. This was a fairly long and medium grade downhill slope, not really my type of terrain as it was just a really really big grassy hill(almost looked groomed). I really picked up pace here, and finally got down to the last 2 miles. As I flew by this last trail intersection, I jumped and paused for a split second. A super loud very low toned meow/growl came out from my left, I saw a yellowish blonde spot of fur not too far, leap away and take off. It took me about .0003645 seconds to realize it was most likely a mountain lion since this is prime cat territory and there is always sightings here with signs posted on the trail heads. Of course I did the worse thing you could do with these furry predators and took off at a full blown sprint uphill.
Prior to writing this post I researched mountain lion attacks, frequency, prevention and such, almost all websites of course say to stay put as the cats may think you are prey running away….oh….ok. I’m feeling pretty lucky since A. I actually encountered wildlife other than deer and rabbits in all my miles and hours spent in the wilderness, but B. most importantly I didn’t get pounced on. This event definitely prompted me to study these bad boys a little more, lucky for Californians there’s only been 14 attacks of which 6 were deadly in 123 years. Other wise read as; you’re more likely to get attacked by a shark, struck by lightning(twice), crash in an airline flight, or die in a car crash….sorry guys didn’t mean to kill the mood.
OK all kidding aside, here’s what you SHOULD do:
Alright so after this little encounter, I finished up my run exiting on to Portola and running a little road…yes road because the park is shaped like a big ol’ upside down U so I couldn’t loop it all. This is a great run if you want to get major hillwork in, don’t want to do too much distance, in essence: more bang for your miles! I’ll be heading to Whiting Ranch a bit more now since my race has a ton of elevation gain within the first few miles and this is the perfect place to do it. Don’t be deterred by the mountain lion sighting, this is very very rare. Just be aware of your surrounding, pay attention on narrow paths below rock formations and don’t run trails with music so loud you can’t hear other people or big cats growling at you (mountain lions haaaaaate being ignored! So rude.)
So my second thought after reading Timothy Olson‘s blog was my short trail running music mix I always update or change. Here’s a little peek into what’s currently on it and a little reason why I have songs on there. I know a lot of you are going to be like “what the? this stuff is soft man!” but I switched over from putting punk or even some old-school hardcore for more mellow stuff. I found out that it helped 100x more with getting into a consistent breathing rhythm. For lifting? yeah sure I need something that gets me psyched, but for running especially in races for 10+ hours, I need to zone out and chill. I know Randy(the most metalhead trail grampa ever) is gonna laugh at this playlist:
“Fancy Claps” and “Shine A Light” by Wolf Parade: think the only reason its on there is nostalgic, and the song always comes on when i’m suffering uphill climbs…imagine that
“Ulvetid” by Kvelertak: ok just kidding this song is hard, like very hard, as in don’t Youtube this at work if your computer has speakers (Randy, you’ll like these guys). Thanks to good friend Emily for giving me this cd on my road trip across America, this Norwegian viking-metal band will knock your socks off and wake up the neighbors…I needed at LEAST one song that got me through really shi**y times. When feeling masochistic and going “death miles per hour”, I throw in the whole album.
“Lonely Boy” and “Run Right Back” by The Black Keys: black keys will forever be on this play list, I just keep rotating old and new songs, think there’s more than two or three constantly on here and yes I do dig the older albums but have over played them.
“Blue Orchid” and “Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine” by The White Stripes: kind of like how I have black keys on rotation, I own all of their albums so I pick a few to rotate in to this mix. Great beats, and love how raw they sound some times.
“Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: this songs gotten me out of some pretty dark holes during Bel Monte 50miler and just has an upbeat feel to it, helps me see the brighter side of things when I’m on the trail.
“Helena Beat”, “Miss You” and “Life On The Nickel” by Foster The People: no I didn’t just discover them, I just really dig the beats and saw them before they played sold out stadiums, I know…I’m so underground hahaha. Brings back good memories and times of my life.
“I Feel It All” by Feist: I have this crush on Leslie F. and maybe one day she’ll read this blog and be like “omg I love that ginger!” and realize we were meant for each other…haha ok no but her voice is dead sexy.
“Intraspettro” by Les Hommes: I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I GOT THIS, but the album is called Pink Panther’s Penthouse Party. I don’t know WHERE this party is, but I def need to meet this pink panther and chill at his penthouse. The song always comes at a great time when I’m cruising down a trail at a great pace, just overall good vibes. Thanks Panther dude!
“I Love U So” by Cassius: I think my brother originally had this on a house mix but I didn’t think it fit well and instead threw it in this rotation, now it feels more at home. The song is melodic, a bit dramatic, almost dream like and this is about 90% of what my brain feels like on the trails. I’m not all there when running trails, hence the glazed-over-1000 mile stare in my eyes if you ever cross paths with me on a backcountry trail.
alright I think that’s all of for now, I’d love some feedback of what you listen to while running, maybe even what scares you the most about trails etc, any wild life encounters? Cheers guys and gals!
Definition of cunning
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 11 years to get that many views.
Take no prisoners, this is my year.
Tired of just “thinking” about doing epic things, I woke up on Dec 31st, hesitated for about 40 minutes…and off I went. Like many of my trail runs, unplanned, unknown mileage, and last minute decisions of trail choice was the motto. Driving to Blackstar canyon, I looked over at Santiago Peak looming in the near distance, “well…” I thought, “I’m here, so might as well end the year with a bang.”
Fully knowing a summit attempt this late would probably find me running down the mountain in pitch black, I set off anyway around 1pm with one 20oz bottle of water, 4 gels and a kids clif bar. I knew it had rained hard for the last couple days so I parked my truck at the road entrance for fear of swollen river crossings and muddy roads. I figured the 2-3 miles of dirt road to the trailhead would be a great warm-up. After sucking wind for about 45 minutes I looked down at my GPS: 4.7 miles. Great I thought; just smoked myself before running 8 miles straight up with roughly 4,000 feet of elevation gain. My brother had told me he saw some snow up on the top but with no recollection of seeing anything; off I went (super under dressed). Passed a few weekend hikers going to Holy Jim falls and so far so good, weather was a little chilly but sunny, and trails for the most part were dry. This first section is mildly technical with stream crossings and some rock hopping until you get to the switch backs, which were fully exposed to sun and not too steep of a gradient. This is where I would make up most of my time, as these are considered “runnable”.
Sidenote: I didn’t really understand why I was sucking wind until I looked at the data for the road section:
Snow started appearing 3 miles up the trail, this was a bit alarming. Slowly but surely, with each mile came more unmelted patches of snow until I found myself running through 3-10 inches of fresh powder. With no prior experience of trail running in snow, my pace slowed down to the top until forced to just power hike the last half mile, carefully digging in each foot to make sure I had good footing. The weather was still sunny but temperatures had dropped to about 35 degres Fahrenheit, I tried quickening my pace but the soft snow kept slowing me down. The last 2 mile section was in the shade the whole time and with me not being able to run, my body temp dropped super fast. At times like these your mind loves to start playing games; you start to think of the lightweight fleece you left in the vehicle, the nice thicker wool socks back at home, or how in colder weather you burn more calories…and you only have 200 calories of nutrition left. Needless to say this was my toughest point of the trip, and being all too familiar with these lows, I went into ultra mode: shut the mind off for a minute, deep breath and one foot in front of the other-”Relentless forward progress”. Hands and face numb, I finally reached the USGS summit mark in exactly 2:30.06. The scene on the summit was super eery. Fresh snow and wind striations indicated it had been a super windy night up here. Dead silence except for the occasional ice cracking off the radio towers. Clouds were rolling in quick so I snapped a few pictures before the beautiful panoramas would be covered.
After these few shots, I could barely feel my fingers and had trouble putting on my jacket which I luckily had packed. The rest of my nutrition went down the hatch which included a kids Clif Zbar and one final gel I would hang on too. After packing some snow in my bottle, I set off down the mountain. This is why I truly love mountain running, all of that hard work and pain to get to the top, finally rewarded by being able to blaze down at a suicide pace. The time was now 4pm and if I wanted to be on time to work for NYE, I HAD to haul ass. I passed a couple hikers would were hoping to reach the top before sunset, which I’m not sure they did since the sun was already behind the mountain. It’s funny how quick you can forget about pain and discontent once you’re flying down a mountain, hoot and haulering like a little kid. My main concern was getting off the trail before pitch black, because…yep of course my headlamp was in the truck. I slipped a few times and stubbed my toe on one too many rocks, but black toe nails eventually fall off and grow back….right? On the way down I ran into a couple hiking out who would later give me a ride back to my truck. This turned out to be a blessing from the mountain gods because after contemplating running that road back out, the thought of running 5 more miles with no light, no food/water and working all night? no thanks! The descent took me 1:15:00 on the dot, bringing the round trip from Holy Jim Trailhead to Summit in 3:45:06, but adding the extra 4.7 brought my total run time to 4:30:42. This was the only way for me to feel like 2012 was finally over. With my first 50 miler, 70 miler and another trip to Leadville in the bag, running a winter summit was the cherry on top. My next goal, was to start the year off with 13 miles….
(to be continued)
…what the f am i doing here…
for the past 26 years 16 expeditions have tried and failed to climb one of pakistan’s 8,000 meter peaks in winter.
on february 2, 2011, simone moro, denis urubko and cory richards became the first. cory is now the only american to summit any 8,000 meter peak in winter.
the journey nearly killed them. cory carried a small camera and filmed the ordeal constantly.
this is their story, as seen from the raw, honest perspective of cory’s lens.
cinematography: cory richards
directed and edited: anson fogel
written: kelly cordes
produced: julie kennedy, david burden, forge motion pictures
in association with: the north face, the access fund, petzl
movie can be bought & downloaded here: Sender films
Rekindling with old friends and catching up, as opened me to think more about what it is I’m really trying to do. I sat there at dinner and looked at Gillian dumb founded, I mean…yeah I’ve got a plan, right? What’s this life all about…
The fact that I’m not completely obsessed with just one thing bugged me for a while. Today, I’m starting to think that’s not such a bad thing after all. Yeah, I may never be the fastest trail runner, hit the biggest wave, have the best time on a crossfit workout…but I live. Going back to a previous post, I think that’s what Defining Life is for me. A recent chat with great friend Jen had me quote that we had OED: Obsessive Endurance Disorder. With a constant drive to push the human body, I’m hooked on everything and anything. Climb mountains, bodysurf wedge, run ultra-marathons, globe trot…I want it all and there’s nothing that says we can’t do just that. If you’re incredibly gifted and are really good at what you do, then by no means let anyone tell you not to pursue that. For the rest of us, be content with being able to try everything, at least once and you’ll have amazing stories to tell your grand kids. At least…that’s the only reason I’m doing it for right? The stories, the
vivid blurry memory of running 70 miles in the woods, being held down by some gnarly wave and having your lungs screaming at you, feeling like you can’t breathe because of the thin air at 14,000 feet(Andrew & Jen, that’s for you guys haha). I look forward, and sometimes I get scared…not because I’m unsure of what I really want to do. Mainly, because I have no idea what crazy ass place or adventure I’m going to find myself in.
Sit down, and ask yourself: what’s this life all about? What’s holding you back? The answer is nothing. You build walls and obstacles, it’s natural, we’re only humans.
Have a great turkey day everyone!
I’m french so we don’t celebrate but I might steal some turkey from some friends. Don’t mind the bearded French dude, he’s just hungry
It’s what sets you apart from the crowd, do you get in the water? or do you call in sick?
That question doesn’t just have to relate to diving. It relates to all of us and our lives. Sure, we can all get sick, tired, sore, unmotivated but what sets us apart from peers is that tiny voice inside that has you push through the comfort zone, put on your wetsuit, and dive in. The outcome of today for me, meant inspecting 5 huge tug boats, each with propellers the size of a jeep…one word: unreal. The enormousness of these machines was breathtaking* (no pun intended coming from a diver). At the end of the day, with San Pedro in my rearview mirror and the sight of container ships being unloaded, I could only smile and thank my voice inside for convincing me to dive in.
I dislike talking about work regardless of how much I love my job and can’t stand people who sit there drinking with you and begin to talk about theirs.
Despite that, here it goes….
Sometimes I pull in to a harbor and get to work early in the morning. The fog still hasn’t burnt off so it makes the scene even gloomier. Boats just sit there, old and new, dirty or clean. For the majority, there’s a lot of neglected ones and sometimes I wonder why the owners still hire us. Like a doctor delivering a bad diagnosis to a patient, we kindly tell them their boat is on it’s last leg and should get hauled out. The owner never does, and so we keep working on their relics. A lot of boats sit there, looking like abandoned toys. As if the owner grew up and forgot it was there. A symbol of fun times of the past, now just rest areas for local seals and seagulls.
I have a lot of time to think underwater(see: maybe too much) and sometimes I think the salt water is getting to my brain. Anyway, I wrote a monologue from a boat in Wilmington harbor to its owner/captain:
“Hey……it’s been awhile. How are you? The kids are all grown up? Man I miss them. Remember when we all use to go to Catalina for the weekend, hang out, the kids use to jump off me? Good times…. So listen, I never really ask for anything but I’m getting old. The sun has done its damage on my once beautiful teak decks. My underside gets so barnacled up nowadays I don’t feel the divers working on me. I thought we’d have a long lasting relationship together…until you got married and 2 kids later. I know it’s been hard the past few years but I’m not feeling my youthful self anymore. The seagulls shit on me all the time. Other captains walk by and sneer, as if I’m an eye sore in the marina. Sometimes I hear the diver say “man..not this boat again…”.
It would be nice if you cleaned me up and maybe ….maybe… it’s time to part ways and sell me. I know selling me would hurt, but I think it’s what’s best for the both of us. Someone that can spend weekends fixing me up, making me look kind of young again. I could sail off into the sunset one last time …have a happy ending…. How about it captain?”