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!