Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sedona Run

West Sedona Road/Trail Run
Sedona, Arizona
Mileage - 16
Time - 2:00
AEG 890ft

After exploring a few options, I revisited the Bear Mountain Trailhead to begin today's long run.  The plan was to complete a 16-mile run and spend as much time off of the pavement as possible.  Brittney rode along for a few miles on a mountain bike that I borrowed and carried my handheld bottles.  After a few miles on FR 152, the surface became too rough and she could no longer keep up with my pace so I ran solo for a while.  I reached the Palatki ruins and turned around, heading back to the car.  When I arrived I grabbed another gel and water bottle and hit the trails with a little over seven miles to go to reach the hotel. 

From the Fay Canyon Trailhead (approximately 0.5 miles from Bear Canyon), I followed a network of new trails including Cockscomb, Dawa, OK, Arizona Cypress, Snake, and Girdner to reach Dry Creek Road leading down into town.  The moderate elevation change allowed me to maintain a steady pace throughout the entire run, though I really think a 7:33/mile pace was a little faster than I should have been running. I'm not going to lie, those 16 miles felt pretty labored.  The important thing was spending more time on my feet than I have in the previous three months, and what better way to do that than a run in red rock country!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

San Gorgonio Mountain

San Gorgonio Mountain Hike
San Bernadino National Forest
San Gorgonio Wilderness
Angelus Oaks, CA
Fish Creek Trail
Mileage - 20.56
Time - 6:30
AEG - 3719ft

Mount San Gorgonio, or "Old Grey Back" as its called, dominates the Eastern skyline of Los Angeles and tops out at an impressive 11,503 feet.  This ultra-prominent peak towers above the desert floor and is Southern California's tallest mountain with 8,279 feet of prominence!  There are several  routes to the top, and most trails are ten or more miles one way.  We chose the Fish Creek route for the remoteness and ease of obtaining a permit for the one day we had available to hike; Sunday, June 9th.

Matt, Wally, Duane, and I drove into Big Bear, CA on Saturday to relax and spend the afternoon by the lake, then camp that evening at Serrano Campground before our big hike on Sunday.  Talk about nice!  Imagine a mini Lake Tahoe with endless opportunities for outdoor recreation.  I need to spend some more time up there this summer!  So on to the hike.

From the main road (CA 38), we drove exactly 7.5 miles on high clearance dirt roads to reach the Fish Creek Trailhead.  By 7:45am we were on the trail and climbing ever-so-gradually up the mountain.  It turned out to be approximately 10.3 miles and 3,500 feet of elevation gain to reach the peak.  I know that sounds like a lot on paper, but the grade is so moderate it never felt as though we were putting in that hard of an effort.  In fact, we averaged 3.1 mph in those 10+miles.  At 11:30am the summit was ours!  Well, not exactly.  There were a few other groups of hikers, all of which were as enthusiastic about taking pictures from the top as us.  High winds didn't allow for a comfortable break at the top so the only thing left to do was hike back down.

The four of us kept talking about how nice the return trip was going to be, and what an easy hike down we had in store.  Then something caught our attention.  Smoke.  A faint white patch of smoke rising up from a lower ridge-line to the South seemed to be gaining momentum with each passing minute.  We were literally witnessing the start of what would become the Hathaway Fire.  As we wrapped around the Northeastern side of San Gorgonio the smell of smoke was in the air.  Then it became visible.  I took off the long sleeve shirt I was wearing and tied it around my face, leaving only my eyes exposed to the hazy air.  Our pace increased to a trot, running at times in search of lower elevation and fresh air.  Unfortunately, we didn't find that until 10 miles later when we reached the car at 8,088ft.  It wasn't until we drove down the mountain and headed for home on Interstate 10 when we saw the wildfire that is being described as having "extreme fire behavior." 


Left - View of San Jacinto Peak to the South during our ascent at 11:00am.  Below/Right - Same View, looking slightly West on the descent at 12:10pm when the fire began.

Hathaway Fire - Banning, CA (As seen from I-10 near Palm Springs at 4:00pm)

More pictures posted soon!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Houston Trail - Arizona

Houston Loop Run
Payson, Arizona
Mileage - 11.79
Time - 1:34
AEG - 733ft

What better way to celebrate National Trails Day than to do a 12-mile trail run in the high desert surrounding Payson, Arizona! Danny and I drove up North on Saturday morning to escape the nasty air quality in the valley. A mulch fire broke out West of Phoenix dirtying up the sky earlier this week. The haze was so bad you could almost taste it (you know, that slept too close to a campfire feeling). Needless to say I didn't want to breathe that in during my long run this weekend, so the Houston Trail sounded like a great option. Upon arriving, we were a little confused at first as we thought the trail started from the Houston Mesa Campground, but soon discovered less than a mile up the road was the actual trailhead.

Danny and I dropped into the trees and ran along the rocky, undulating trail for a few miles until reaching a road that would lead us out to Highway 260. The map on my Garmin would be our guide back to the car, this would help us piece together a route on both paved and gravel roads to make a giant loop around town. The highlight of the day was definitely my first rattlesnake encounter of the year, and a unique one at that. Just before departing the Houston Loop trail for pavement, I noticed something moving on the yellow colored dirt, it was a Mojave!

Running the Houston Trail - Payson, AZ