A midsummer day’s run

Five weeks to White River.

Like many barbarians, the people of Santa Barbara celebrate the summer solstice. There is dancing in the streets, etc.

OBERON: But we are spirits of another sort.

And, like a forester, the groves we tread

Romero trailhead, all set about with sycamore trees

Romero trailhead, all set about with sycamore trees

I, on the other hand, was headed for a trail run. I was hoping for overcast skies, while most Barbarians wanted sun for their celebration. As it turned out, the weather cooperated: Overcast up in the mountains. Sun down below for the parade.

Mike had me out on Romero, going up the trail at a fairly easy pace (HR: 75-78%), then down the road hard, then up the trail again, hard (HR 85-88%), then down the trail easy. I didn’t like having the hard bit in the middle. That worried me. I like to get the hard work done when I’m fresh. Coaches, sadly, like to put the hard work later to see how I do when I’m tired. Makes sense when training for a long run. But just because it makes sense doesn’t mean it will be pleasant.

White sage

White sage

I’m going easily, so out comes the camera.

The white sage is starting to bloom. Hmm. Is it really a sage? I grew up believing that all members of the mint family had square stems, whereas white sage has a round stem. Its flower clusters, also, don’t look like other sage species, in white sage flowers just pop out along a flower spike while the other local sages have several spherical flower clusters spaced along a flower spike. I conclude that “white sage” isn’t really a sage.

Sigh. Wikipedia tells me I’m wrong. White sage is Salvia apiana — a sage. Oh, and not all members of the mint family have square stems.

On a steep hillside like this, I don’t have to think about a 75% heart rate, it just happens.

Banana slug As I run toward a stream crossing, I see a banana slug slowly (sluggishly) moving up the trail. Banana slugs are relatively rare in Santa Barbara (as opposed to Santa Cruz, for example, where I’m told they are common).

The trail and fire road do a little dance. The trail goes (relatively) straight up the mountain, while the road makes great loops — first it goes a long way to the east, then returns, crosses the trail and goes a long way to the west before they meet again at the top.

The trail goes ever up and upAfter the road, the trail has left the canyon with its little stream and heads up into chaparal. It goes through a tunnel of vegitation as it heads up and up.

Up to now I’ve been underneath the overcast, but I begin to move into fog as I climb further. It’s not a static layer, the fog is being blown up the mountain, and then inland.

Fog blown up the mountain side

Fog blown up the mountain side

Blue sky at saddleI reach the saddle, the wind is behind me, blowing the fog up and over the mountain, in front is — blue sky! but off to the left, in the direction I’m headed, there’s a mountain peak completely hidden in fog.

Up here, on the summit ridge line, I run into some friends. They appear to be doing the same thing I am, but in reverse (and probably not twice). They’ve come up the road and are heading down the trail. We stop and chat. They

Some random sage, that's all over the summit, but not anywhere else

Some random sage, that's all over the summit, but not anywhere else

will be doing Western States 100 next week, and are kind enough to complement me on running a 60K last week. Then Amy changes the subject and warns me that there is a large rattler in the middle of the road about halfway down to the trail. Gleep! But, continues Amy, it was in the process of eating a mouse and had no interest in anything else.

I reach the end of the ridge line trail and it’s time to stop dawdling, put away the camera and — watch out for the snake!

I head down. Pushing things. Mike didn’t give me a target, just said “hard”. When my alarm starts beeping (at 80% HR) I turn it off — that should do. The road is very foggy. Foggier than the trail was. It is also covered with sticks that look sort of snake-like when seen through fog. It’s a bit frightening, in fact. Here I am, hurtling down the mountain-side, knowing there’s a snake in front of me, unable to distinguish between an innocuous stick and a venomous snake.

THESEUS: And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination

Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

I’m halfway to the trail now, and have seen no snake. I begin to wonder if it has moved off, or if I’ve passed it without noticing. I see two mountain bikers with a dog, they say nothing of a snake as they head up. My hopes of seeing a predation event dim. Two minutes later I meet two runners, and they immediately let me know they’ve just passed a snake. Shortly after that…


snakeSadly, the snake seems to have finished its meal. I just catch it as it moves off out of the road.

Shortly after that I cross the trail again. I still seem to be in fog. It lasts for a long time on the road.

Mountains in mist. Montecito below, Santa Barbara lost in the distant haze.

Mountains in mist. Montecito below, Santa Barbara lost in the distant haze.

I’m charging down the mountain now. Occasionally I see others. At the stream crossing there is actually a traffic jam. A party of two coming up is looking at a party of two going down. There’s a dog involved too. I resolve I’ll simply run through the stream and get wet feet, but the two groups wait for me to zoom past.

Finally, I’m at the bottom. First half is over. I move some GU to a more convenient pocket, and head back up. The group whom I passed at the stream crossing passes me again, and say, in perplexity: “But you’ve already been up?”, I explain I have to do it twice, “That’s ambitious.”, it’s my coach’s fault you see.

PUCK: Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down.
I am feared in field and town.
Goblin lead them up and down.

Not really Mike’s fault, of course, I asked him to make me do this 🙂

This is the part I’m worried about. All the way up again at >85%.

It seems to go well though. I’m tired, which makes it easier to get the heart rate up. And the slope just asks for it. I get to the top faster than I did the first time. Good.

Less fogAnd now the camera can come out again.

Once again there is less fog on the ridge. I can look down on the valley below (away from SB) and see sunny spots…

No friends on the ridge this time. Then I plunge back down the road. Plunge back into the fog. After seeing blue sky at the top, it seems denser than ever.

FogI find the fog fascinating. It’s just streaming up the mountain sides. A still photograph doesn’t do it justice. Would video? I don’t have patience at the moment to stand here and take a video…

I keep hearing “PUCK: Night and shadows”. Well fog and shadows. Actually not much in the way of shadows. Why was Puck talking about shadows at night — unless there were a moon. “BOTTOM: A calendar, a calendar! Look in the almanac. Find out moonshine, find out moonshine. QUINCE: Yes, it doth shine that night.” I guess Shakespeare knew what he was doing.

Three YuccaMost of the time the fog has been blowing up from the ocean, and then down into the Santa Ynez valley. But here, this mountain on the left, seems to have fog blowing up on both sides of it. Perhaps it pokes out of the cloud cover and there’s a significant updraft there which sucks the fog up from all over?

Break in the cloudsA little further on, there’s another break in the clouds, and I can see down into the (partially) sunlit valley below.

Fog is neat

Fog is neat

Final stream crossing

Final stream crossing

The stream at the ford

The stream at the ford

The road at the bottom

The road at the bottom



PUCK: If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended–
That you have but slumb’red here,
While these visions did appear.


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