I squeezed the bag of ice wrapped in the bandanna around my neck and shivered as an ice cold bead of water snaked down my spine. The temperature reading from the shaded sensor clipped to my pack read 106°F.
That had been at 3:30 Thursday afternoon at Ahmanson Ranch. Earlier that day the “in the sun” temp recorded at the nearby Cheeseboro RAWS had topped out at a blistering 119°F!
This morning, Sunday morning, my AC100 heat training was on hold. The sun had just risen and I was running on the dew-covered sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge. The temperature sensor was reading about 54 degrees cooler than at Ahmanson — an almost chilly 52°F.
Not to worry — I would be back running in the 100 degree Ahmanson heat Tuesday.
My intent was to try and walk past without scaring them. One doe did not run, but the youngster and its companion were more skittish and didn’t quite know how to react.
In some situations a bolting deer can be a real problem. Two friends running in Topanga State Park rounded a corner and were suddenly confronted with a spooked buck running toward them. There was a steep hill on one side and a cliff on the other. In the narrow confines the buck collided with one of the runners, hitting his shoulder and knocking him to the ground. All things considered he was very lucky. The bucks head was up, so the collision only resulted in a sore shoulder and some trail rash.
Crest and clouds on the Pacific Crest Trail at 8900′ near Mt. Burnham in the San Gabriel Mountains. From Saturday’s 30 mile training run on the PCT and AC100 course.
Temps were a bit more manageable on Saturday than Sunday. Saturday the Big Pines RAWS (6964′) recorded a high of 79°F with an “in the sun” temperature of around 101°F. Sunday the Big Pines high was 89°F with a sizzling “in the sun” temperature of about 109°F.
In addition to the air temperature many Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) report the fuel temperature. The air temperature is the temperature inside a ventilated, sun-shielded enclosure approximately 6 ft. off the ground. The fuel temperature is the temperature of a pine dowel in full sun near the ground. The fuel temperature is a good indicator of the much higher temperature runners and hikers can experience in exposed areas facing the sun.
What do a hilly marathon, a pair of cygnets, and a herd of bison have in common?
Why, of course, a run in San Francisco.
Brett wanted to check out some of the hills on the San Francisco Marathon course and show me more San Francisco sights. The result was a 14 mile loop that began in the Marina District and visited Crissy Field, the Golden Gate Bridge at Fort Point, Land’s End Park, Sutro Heights Park and Golden Gate Park.
Most of the run between the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park was on the California Coastal Trail. Near Sea Cliff we left the marathon course and continued on the Coastal Trail to Land’s End Park and Sutro Heights Park, eventually entering Golden Gate Park on its northwest corner at 47th Avenue.
Larger than New York’s Central Park, Golden Gate Park’s many attractions draw millions of visitors each year. That one of those attractions is a golf course isn’t particularly surprising. And you might expect a major city park to have a botanical garden, aquarium and a museum. But would you expect a park in San Francisco to host a herd of bison? I know when I put on my running shoes this morning I wasn’t thinking, “Hope we see some buffalo!”
Bison have been present in Golden Gate Park since the 1890s. According to this Huffington Post article by Fiona Ma the herd was repopulated in 2011 and, “The City and County of San Francisco would excitedly welcome 6 more urban bison members.”
The title photo is a black and white image of Monterey pines along the Land’s End Trail.
In recent weeks it seems just about every weekend the mountains have had postcard running weather.
Today’s run was on a higher elevation section of the Pacific Crest Trail and Angeles Crest 100 course. To shorten the shuttle, but still enjoy the great views up on Blue Ridge, we parked at Inspiration Point and started the day with a six mile (round trip) out and back run to near Blue Ridge Campground.
After the out and back run and a quick stop at the car, we continued west on the northbound PCT to Vincent Gap, then up to the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell, down to Islip Saddle, up and over the shoulder of Mt. Williamson and then down to Eagles Roost.
During the run the following question came up — What is the highest elevation reached by the PCT in Southern California? It had to be either on San Jacinto Peak or Mt. Baden-Powell. I knew the high point of the PCT on Baden-Powell was around 9200′, but couldn’t recall the max elevation of the PCT on San Jacinto. We asked a through-hiker and he said about 9000′.
When I got home I checked the elevations using USGS National Map 1/3 arc second digital elevation model data. According to this data the high point of the PCT in Southern California is 9230′, at the junction of the PCT and Mt. Baden-Powell summit trail. The max elevation of the PCT on San Jacinto Peak is 9045′, near the junction of the PCT and Wellman Divide Trail.
The title photo is Mt. Baden-Powell from the PCT east of Inspiration Point.
The “Shortcut 50K” is a 31 mile loop that starts and ends at Shortcut Saddle on Hwy 2. It’s a good AC100 training run because it covers about 21 miles of the Angeles Crest 100 course, doesn’t require a shuttle, and normally has water at key points along the way.
After following the AC100 course from Shortcut Saddle to the Mt. Wilson Toll Road via Chantry Flat, the 50K follows the Mt. Wilson Trail (including a short stretch of the Toll Road) to the top of Mt. Wilson. From the parking lot on Mt. Wilson a nondescript trail is normally used to connect to the Kenyon Devore Trail, which is followed down to West Fork. From West Fork the Silver Moccasin Trail is taken back up to Shortcut Saddle.
All the trails that make up the loop can be seen in Google Maps. There is usually water available at Chantry Flat and a spigot in the Mt. Wilson parking lot. There is also water running from a pipe at West Fork, just below the last switchback, on the right side of the trail. It’s been used as a water source for years, but treat it to be sure. There are cafes at Chantry Flat and Mt. Wilson.
Last year the lower part of the Silver Moccasin Trail was a bushwhack, but thanks to Mt. Disappointment 50K/50M RD Gary Hilliard and crew, the trail has been restored.
On today’s run some sections of the connector trail between the Mt. Wilson parking lot and the Kenyon Devore Trail were difficult to follow because of work to remove debris piles created during the Station Fire. Until the work is completed, it would probably be easier to follow Mt. Wilson Road a short distance down to the top of the Kenyon Devore Trail.
Descending the Kenyon Devore Trail today I was reminded just how quickly a fun run in the mountains can become something else. I was about halfway down the trail when I rounded a corner and saw a huge tree had fallen across the trail. I was at that point in a long run where I had no desire whatsoever to clamber over a tree.
I muttered out loud, “What the heck!” then was relieved to see the big tree could be easily bypassed on the left. As I rounded the tree, there was a sudden commotion, accompanied by the sound of breaking branches and the disconcerting sight of large bear disappearing into the bushes just a few feet away.
Apparently the bear had been walking up the trail and had not heard me running down the trail. Fortunately it did hear my exclamation, and that was just enough of warning to avoid a potentially serious confrontation.
It’s been more than six and a half years since the devastating Station Fire burned 160,577 acres in Angeles National Forest.
The pine seedling above is on the Three Points – Mt. Waterman trail (10W04) in an area burned by the Station Fire. It’s 3.5 miles from Three Points and at an elevation of about 7000′. It’s about three years old.
How long will the seedling have to grow to replace the mature trees lost in the fire?
A couple more miles up the trail, near the Twin Peaks Trail junction, is a Jeffrey pine burned by the Station Fire and then cut by fire fighters. The tree is representative of the mature trees in this area of the forest. An inexact, but conservative, count of its growth rings is in the neighborhood of 325.
So the burned tree was a seedling sometime around 1690. If the seedling survives the drought, increasing temperatures, subsequent fires and droughts, and other maladies that can befall a tree, it will reach the age of the burned tree around 2340.
Here’s hoping that it does, and that the forests will be as enjoyable then as they are now…
A couple of weekends ago we had cool weather for a 28 mile Angeles Crest 100 training run from Islip Saddle to Chilao Flat. It was a bit windy and chilly at Islip Saddle, but once we were up and over the shoulder of Mt. Williamson the wind settled down and the weather for the remainder of the run was near perfect.
This was the second of four supported AC100 training runs, each covering a different section of the course. These organized runs account for just a tiny fraction of the total mileage a runner does to prepare for this event, and much of the mileage is done on the AC100 course.
Where is the AC100 course? Incorporating segments of iconic trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail, Silver Moccasin Trail and Gabrielino Trail, the AC100 starts in the mountain community of Wrightwood, California and ends in Altadena near JPL, traversing a large part of the San Gabriel Mountains.
Mountain weather — even Los Angeles County mountain weather — can be extremely varied and changeable. At about mile 18 the AC100 course reaches an elevation of more than 9,200′, near the summit of Mt. Baden-Powell. On the same day temperatures on the course can differ by 50 degrees or more. One section can be inundated by a flash flood while another is bone dry. During a Spring training run it might be 100 in the sun at Echo Mountain, while it is snowing on Baden-Powell.
The Mt. Wilson Towercam is usually pointed in the direction of the Angeles high country. When it is, it provides a great overview of about two-thirds of the AC100 course. The view extends from the top of the Acorn Trail at about mile 4 (in the distance on the far right), along the crest past Mt. Baden-Powell, Throop Peak, Twin Peaks and Waterman Mountain to Three Points at about mile 43. Chilao is hidden from view, but the Charlton Flat area and a section of Edison Road is visible on the left. Newcomb Saddle, at about mile 68, is on the lower right. Here’s an annotated Towercam image that shows the approximate location of these features.
Bill Westphal’s Altadena Weather & Webcam gives a lower elevation view of the San Gabriels, near the AC100 Finish. The view is NE toward the Sunset Ridge Trail and Mt. Lowe Road, around mile 93 or 94. The course goes from the right of the photo to the left, but is mostly hidden from view.
If you are willing to jump through some Java security hoops the Mountain Hardware Live Interactive Cam in Wrightwood is a couple blocks from the AC100 Start. It has views of downtown Wrightwood, Wright Mountain, the Heath Canyon landslide, Blue Ridge and several other locations. I temporarily enabled Java and followed the troubleshooting info linked on the web cam page. I’ve been able to get it to work on a desktop system using Firefox or Internet Explorer. Note that enabling Java and adding non-secure URLs to the Java exceptions list decreases the security of your computer.
Following are several Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) and Weather Underground Personal Weather Stations (PWS) along or near the AC100 course, in order from Start to Finish.
It is important to note that the air temperature given by RAWS stations is the temperature inside a sun-shielded, ventilated enclosure 4-8 feet off the ground. Basically it’s the temperature in light shade. The temperature in full sun can be 15°F higher. I’ve found the “Fuel Temperature” to be a better gage of how hellish it’s going to be on exposed areas of trail. (The Fuel Temperature is the temperature of a ponderosa pine dowel in direct sun.)
Big Pines BPNC1 RAWS (6964′) – Off Hwy 2 near Mountain High Ski Area. Top of Mt. Baden-Powell can be 12+ degrees cooler and much more windy. Was 64°F at 6:54 a.m. for 2015 AC100. Fuel temp at 11:54 a.m. was 92°F.
Henninger Flats HNGC1 RAWS (2800′) – Approximately 0.8 miles WSW of Idlehour Aid (~3168′). Marine layer can increase humidity on this section of the course. Was 69-70°F from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. for 2015 AC100. Fuel temp was 89°F by 11a.m.
Altadena KCAALTAD18 PWS (1214′) – Approximately 0.6 miles S of Finish. For 2015 AC100 temp ranged from 66°F at 2 a.m. to 63°F at sunrise. Temp was 79°F at 9 a.m., 82°F at 11 a.m., and 86°F at 1 p.m. Humidity was high with dew point about 70°F.
This photograph of an alpaca was taken at about 15,000′, running down from Palomani Pass (16,600 ft.) on a Circuit of Mt. Ausangate (20,905 ft.) organized by Andes Adventures. It was part of a large herd grazing on the mountainside.
We did the circuit in July, which is mid-Winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The alpaca’s thick coat protects it from the harsh, alpine conditions. Temps were relatively moderate when we were there, but still dropped to 0°F overnight.
Evidence suggests the alpaca was domesticated 6000-7000 years ago and bred for its fiber and meat. It is intriguing how much the alpaca’s coat looks like the clumps of cacti growing on the hillside. From a distance an alpaca would be difficult to distinguish from the plants, however this doesn’t appear to be an adaptation. Genetic analysis suggests the alpaca is descended from the vicuña, which has different coloration. The cactus is a species of Oreocereus, commonly called “old man of the Andes.”
Like Llamas, alpacas are camelids, though some claim they are related to Ewoks.