T-storms and Trail Work

Old Boney Trail in the Boney Mountain Wilderness

When I woke to the rumble of thunder, rain pounding the roof, and wind roaring in the trees, I wondered if a planned run of the Boney Mountain Half Marathon course with John Dale was going to turn into an epic. Radar and satellite imagery showed subtropical moisture streaming in from the southwest, producing bands of showers and thunderstorms. Things don’t always look as bad at the trailhead as they do on weather radar, so I grabbed my gear and headed for Wendy Drive.

The weather looked promising driving through Agoura, but the further west I drove, the more ominous the skies became. Somewhere around Lynn Road KNX announced that the NWS had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Santa Clarita area, with cloud to ground lightning, heavy rain, possible damaging winds and dime-sized hail. It was with that thought in mind, and a shower pelting the car, that I pulled into the parking area on Potrero Rd.

If anything, weather is fickle, and sometimes that quirkiness can work for you. There was an area of heavy rain to the west, but the activity appeared to be skirting the area, so we opted to start the run.

Thunderstorm marching northeast from the Santa Barbara Channel across the Oxnard Plain.
There were a few sprinkles as we jogged down the blacktop into Big Sycamore Canyon, and a few more as we did the first easy mile of the Hidden Pond Trail. Down in the canyon it was hard to tell what the weather was doing, but after gaining some elevation we reached a better vantage point. Just a few miles away thunderstorms were being swept northeast from the Santa Barbara Channel, across the Oxnard Plain, and into the Ventura Mountains.

Skies darkened and the shower intensity increased as we ran down Ranch Center Fire Road. The wind was blowing in the fitful gusts that precede a thunderstorm, and it felt as if the sky might fall at any moment. With a slight shift in the track of the thunderstorms we might be running in a deluge, dodging lightning strikes.

But it didn’t shift. Following the shower, the sun broke through the clouds just long enough to add glints to the raindrops dripping from the leaves of sycamores and oaks in Blue Canyon. Under overcast skies, we climbed up the Old Boney Trail and into the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

We had not seen a hiker, runner, or rider since turning onto the Hidden Pond Trail early in the run. So it was a bit of a surprise when we rounded a corner and ran into Ed Reid and several other volunteers with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council doing trail maintenance on a section of the Old Boney Trail.

Just about any weekend of the year, dedicated members of the SMMTC will be somewhere in the Santa Monica Mountains, working on a trail. To get a better idea of the amount of work done and the number of trails involved, take a look at this list of recently maintained trails! How many of these have you hiked, run or ridden?

There are several ways to help support SMMTC:

  • Volunteer to do trail maintenance.
  • Join the SMMTC.
  • Make your REI purchases using the REI link on the SMMTC web site. REI will donate a percentage of the purchase to SMMTC.

See the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council web site for more info.

Some related posts: Boney Mountain Half Marathon, Return to Hidden Pond