Up and Over Sierra Pelona Ridge

PCT on Sierra Pelona Ridge

Because of an unexpected change in the Powerhouse Fire closure area, the 2014 Leona Divide 50M and 50K courses have been rerouted just a couple of  weeks before the event. With these changes all but about 5 miles of the 50M and 50K are now on single track trail.

The new section of the 50 mile course is an out and back on the PCT from Bouquet Canyon to Aqua Dulce. It begins at about mile 8.6 of the course, then climbs up and over Sierra Pelona Ridge and descends to a turnaround point at mile 17.6 near Aqua Dulce. When runners return to Bouquet Canyon, they will have done about 26.6 miles.

Like my run on the LD course a few weeks ago, it had been many years since I’d run the Bouquet Canyon – Aqua Dulce section of the PCT and I was curious to see what it would add to the course.

However you look at it the Sierra Pelona segment is an exciting addition. Pick your superlative, the segment includes the:

  • highest point on the course – about 4550′ on Sierra Pelona Ridge.
  • most technical sections of trail.
  • steepest section of trail.
  • most scenic segment of trail with great views and an assortment of wildflowers.
  • longest climb – about 6 miles from Aqua Dulce to Sierra Pelona Ridge.
  • biggest elevation gain – about 2100′ from Aqua Dulce to Sierra Pelona Ridge.

On my way back down to Bouquet Canyon from Sierra Pelona Ridge I ran into Dave making his way back to Aqua Dulce. We’d crossed paths earlier on the other side of the ridge, and for the briefest moment he was dazzled by my Jorge-like speed. “You didn’t…,” he asked. No way, I explained, “I turned around only a couple of miles down from the ridge.”

Here are a few photos taken along the way.