Archive for December, 2016

Stupider Fortnight

December 31, 2016

On the Wednesday before Christmas I ran with the dog out to More Mesa. The dog likes More Mesa. She bounds through the tall grass finding scents of I-don’t-know-what. Once she found the scent of a skunk there and, to my surprise, was really pleased by that too. She’s like an eccentric comet, traveling long distances away from me but always returning to check in.

She gets intrigued when I stop to look at a flower, she will come over and stand on top of it trying to figure out what’s interesting. If I stop too long she’ll get bored and start jumping on me to encourage me to move on. (It works)

This Wednesday there were puddles
Water Dog

While the dog bounded with joy, I plodded at a more sluggish pace, and I started to think about the runs I had done so far that week. Sunday I’d gone 24 miles, Tuesday 34 and today about 10. Friday I intended another 20 miles and then Saturday about 12.

Hunh. That added up to 100 miles in a week. I don’t often (only once before I think) get in 100 miles in a week. I was pleased.

When I got home I noticed that Monica had posted a “stupid week” challenge on Facebook, trying to get people to do 100 miles in a week.

Now I know that 100 miles a week isn’t a challenge for some people, it’s normal training for elite runners. And many of my friends have even run 100 miles in a day. But I am not an elite runner, nor have I ever finished a 100 mile race, so 100 miles in a week is challenge enough.

I mentioned this to Rusty and he was unimpressed. I’d done 100 miles in a week before. He said if I really wanted a challenge I should do two consecutive 100 mile weeks. Mmmm … OK.

First week
Date Route Mileage Tot
Sun 18 Dec Cold Spring and Gibraltar trails beyond Mercury Mine 24.5 M 24
Tue 20 Dec Camuesa Canyon Rd. to Mono (via Little Caliente) 34.3 M 58
Wed 21 Dec Home to More Mesa 10 M 68
Fri 23 Dec Romero to Blue Canyon (via Big Caliente) 32.6 M 100
Sat 24 Dec Home to More Mesa 11 M 111

On Sunday I ran out to Gibraltar Reservoir (starting on Mountain Dr. and taking Cold Spring trail out to Gibraltar Trail). Now in recent years this has meant running out to the Mercury Mine, but this year no water was visible at the mine
Dry Reservoir
and I had to run another mile and a quarter before I could see any water in the reservoir. So I went a little longer than I intended. This took about 7:15 hours.

On Tuesday I decided to take advantage of the recently reopened Rey Fire burn area. There’s a road which goes from Lower Oso to Romero. I’ve run bits of it but never the whole thing. The whole road is too long to do as an out and back (50~60 miles round trip), but I could add another section. So I started at Lower Oso and ran out to Mono (at the end of Cold Spring trail). Only I couldn’t start at Lower Oso because the ford at First Crossing is currently flooded. So I started at First Crossing and ran to Lower Oso and then ran Mono. And, of course, if you’re going to Mono you might as well detour to Little Caliente Spring, it only adds about two miles to the route…

Camuesa Valley after the Rey Fire

Camuesa Valley after the Rey Fire

I seemed to be running faster than I expected, so as I got closer to the end I ran faster and faster. I ran the last mile and a half at a 7 minute pace (which is pretty good at the end of a 34 mile run. Good for me anyway). This took 5:35 hours.

On Wednesdays I take the dog out to More Mesa. The run is anywhere from 10~12 miles depending on where I go (the dog probably goes twice as far).

On the 17th I had intended to drive out to Cachuma Saddle and run to McKinnley Peak — but I flew back from my aunt’s 100th birthday on the 16th and got stuck in Chicago for 8 hours and got in too late, so I postponed that adventure until Friday. Only on Friday it was supposed to rain more than an inch. And somehow I did not relish being on a 6000ft peak in a pouring rain (or snow) storm. So, I once again postponed that route.

Instead I decided to do the rest of Camuesa road. I started at Romero trailhead and ran up the old fire road to the top, then down the fire road to the Santa Ynez river, across the river and out to Pendola. Once I got to Pendola I decided to detour out to Big Caliente Spring (I’d never been there before, it only added 5 miles) and then ran from Pendola to where Blue Canyon trail hit the road, then up Blue Canyon trail (across the Santa Ynez) to Romero trail, up the trail and down till I hit the fireroad, and then down that. This would complete the road as I had already run the section of road from Blue Canyon to Mono.

There was water in the river where the road forded it…
The rain was supposed to start heavily around 12 and I wanted to be across the Santa Ynez (at Blue Canyon) before then — just in case. I felt a few sprinkles around 10 out at Big Caliente, so I hurried, but they stopped. When I got to Blue Canyon trail the “River” looked as dry as it ever does.
Dry Riverbed
There was no water in any of the “stream” crossings along Blue Canyon either. When I got to the top of Romero I was starting to worry that the rain was a hoax, but as I came down the trail it started raining, and then rained hard.

This route took me 6:20 hours.

Camuesa Runs

Camuesa Runs (click to see enlarged map)

On Saturdays I usually take the dog up to Inspiration, but after Friday’s rain I figured Jesusita would be too muddy. So she (the dog) got to go out to More Mesa again. I think she prefers More Mesa (though I don’t). There were even more puddles this time!

Second week
Date Route Mileage Tot
Sun 25 Dec Romero to Divide Peak 35.7 M 35
Tue 27 Dec First Crossing to Santa Cruz Station 38.3 M 73
Wed 28 Dec Home to Inspiration 12.2 M 85
Thu 29 Dec Cold Spring to Santa Ynez River 16.5 M 101
Sat 31 Dec Home to More Mesa 10 M 111
Sat 31 Dec New Year’s Eve sunset beach run 6 M 117

For many years I have done a long run on Christmas Day. It’s a great time to run, there’s no one else out. The weather tends to allow for long runs, and there aren’t many flowers to slow me down. I had intended to run out to Little Pine (by fireroad, the front of Santa Cruz trail is a mess that only Ken Hughes dares to run), and see what the back side of the trail is like — since the fire didn’t burn much on the back side I hoped that section would be passable. But when it rained a lot Friday I didn’t want to deal with muddy landslides (dry landslides might be OK). So… I decided to run out to Divide Peak instead.

I’ve never been all the way to Divide Peak (which is approximately at the Ventura/SB county line and is at the (effective) end of Camino Cielo). The furthest I’ve gone is the top of Franklin Trail.

I ran up Romero Rd again (It took me 3 minutes longer to get to the top than it had on Friday; my legs were getting tired). There was snow visible from the saddle!
Then down the backside to the intersection with Divide Peak road, and out that. Passed Island View trail, passed Franklin Trail… and then the road got really bad… another 3~4 miles took me to Divide Peak.

Divide Peak with Lake Casitas visible in the distance (right) and snow (left)

Divide Peak with Lake Casitas visible in the distance (right)

This route took 8:35 hours, I was tired, and the road was poor.

On Tuesday I finally ran down to Santa Cruz Station. Now I knew that the front side of Santa Cruz trail had been trashed by the Rey fire, but there were large stretches of it that were fine, so I hoped that the back side (where there was less fire) would be fine. I was wrong.

Last week at First Crossing it was possible to avoid getting my feet wet by taking the River trail to Oso. After the rain on Friday the channel had shifted and the River trail was either under water or mud. So I went across the ford.

There was frost on the ground. That water was cold. My feet felt frozen for the next two miles.

I took Camuesa to Buckhorn to Little Pine Rd. to Happy Hollow. Happy Hollow did not look happy.
happy hollow
Nor did the top of Little Pine
little pine summit
The Zaca fire tore through here 9 years ago, and the Rey fire came through in August. Nine years is not long enough to recover. There are poppy forbs growing in the ground, and the grass is returning, but the trees…

At Alexander Saddle there used to be a stand of white-flowered currants (most of our currants are pink, this was the only stand of the white species I knew of). Just sticks are left.
White Flowered Currants

Going down Santa Cruz trail wasn’t bad at first and I got hopeful that it would all be clear … but after a tenth of a mile I came upon the landslide. It was almost unbroken for half a mile. No sign of trail anywhere. Not as bad as the front side — I did not feel I would fall to my death, but I did slip frequently. I needed both hands and feet to clamber across.
Santa Cruz Trail, back side of Little Pine

But after that half mile things were fine. The trail emerged from the burn area and wasn’t much worse than usual (no one’s been on it for 3 months so it’s a bit more overgrown). Little Pine Spring appeared unaffected.

I filled up with water at Santa Cruz creek, and forded it. Wet feet again, but at least the day was warmer now.

I took the fire road out of the Station (I didn’t want to deal with the trail again), FS 6N14. I’ve never taken the road before. I’m not sure I ever will again. It’s four miles straight up. It’s not runable. Not by me after 20 miles anyway. It was also surprisingly hot. It took forever.

Eventually it reached Buckhorn Rd. I ran the next (last) 12 miles in under 2 hours.

I took my shoes off at first crossing, and drove home barefoot.

Total time 8:43 hours.

On Wednesday I took the dog for her run.

I conduct a small experiment before each run… I leave a carrot on my front steps. The dog likes carrots. Normally the dog is so excited by the idea of a run that she will ignore the carrot until we return. She’s not unaware of it (she usually runs over it) and she goes directly to it at the end, but running is just more important (at the start).

Today for the first time, she picked up the carrot. She didn’t eat it, but she carried it around the yard as she ran in excited circles. Finally she dropped it at the front gate and let me put her leash on. As always she went right to it when we got back.

Thursday I ran Cold Spring trail out to the Santa Ynez river. The river isn’t a river here yet. There was some frost heave underfoot, but no puddles of water visible.
Santa Ynez River

Friday Cynthia took me hiking up to see the Gaviota Wind Caves, and on beyond. Or that was the plan. Actually it started raining just as we reached the first cave, so we stopped there and waited it out. Squalls had blown in and out earlier and we assumed this one would pass quickly, but we waited almost an hour.

I quoted Pooh: “It rained, and it rained, and it rained”, and went on to describe how the Wild Woozles who lived at the East Pole took the fur off Pooh’s legs to make their nests…
Wind Cave

Eventually it let up and we proceeded. We passed another set of caves, and just beyond them found (what I believe to be) a Purissima Manzanita.
Purissima Manzanita
This has a CNPS ranking of 1.B1 which is as endangered as you can get without being presumed extinct.

But here it started to rain again, and we decided to call it a day. We’d only hiked a mile in, and it wasn’t a run, so it doesn’t really add to my mileage for the week (but it was neat).

On Saturday I took the dog out to More Mesa again. As usual the dog ignored her carrot at the start, and we took off at a gallop.

It started raining.

This did not deter the dog, it just meant she got muddy. Come to that it didn’t deter me either, though it did make the mesa muddy and that was a bit of an issue.

On the way home the dog found a bone. A rib bone. She was very interested in the bone. Eventually I persuaded her that she could run and carry the bone at the same time. It was only about 2 miles at this point. But sometimes she’d try to chew rather than carry and the bone would slip and we’d have to stop to pick it up again. We came home a bit more slowly that usual. About half a mile from home she spit out the bone and ignored it. Perhaps she was thinking of the carrot waiting for her…

Saturday evening we had our annual New Year’s Eve beach run. And that ended my fortnight.
Daniel & Stephanie