Smoke from Powerhouse Fire, seen from Mt. Baden Powell
June 1 2013. I was sitting at Little Jimmy Springs, resting and filling up my water bottles, midway through an out-and-back run from Vincent Gap, up to Baden Powell, and across. I had spotted a couple resting at Windy Gap when I passed. They joined me at Little Jimmy.
The lady was apprehensive about the water at Little Jimmy. “Is it filtered?” she asked. That seemed like an odd question. Of course not, lady. You are at 7,500 feet, on the PCT and have just come off a ridge in the mountains.
Despite this odd question, they seemed to be avid hikers. They had just moved to Wrightwood and were looking for hikes around the area. I told them about Acorn Trail up to the PCT, which they already knew, and about the trip from there across to Mt. Baldy via Pine Mountain, which she’d read was in poor shape. They’d come up from Islip Saddle, gone up to Islip Peak, down to Crystal Lake via the Islip Ridge Trail, and up from Crystal lake via Windy Gap Trail, which meant they’d had a pretty good hike that day.
I was completely stunned with each took out a pack of cigarettes and lit up. On one hand I was impressed – being able to pull of all these hikes while smoking is an accomplishment. On the other hand, aside from Little Jimmy Spring, which is wet, these mountains are like tinder. It’s been a dry year. From the ridge you can see the giant clouds of smoke from the Powerhouse Fire over near Lake Hughes. If not for your sake than for the sake of the mountains – please – no smoking on the trails. Leave that stuff in the city.
I left them there and headed back out, passing Mari Lemus, who was just coming down the hill into Windy Gap, on her way to Eagle’s Roost, where in a few hours she and Jorge would encounter a bear.
I seem to run into Mari and Jorge pretty much every time I head out to run, whether it’s in Griffith Park or up in the mountains. That my training apparently mimics theirs is happy news.
Sunday’s 20 miles on Baden Powell was a reward for Saturday’s drudgery. My least favorite segment of the AC100 course is the slog on fireroad between Shortcut and Newcombs Pass, 9.5 miles of dusty drudgery. This is the segment where the wheels went flat last year, and it’s one I need to run, the last giveaway stretch of the race. I decided to tackle it Saturday, just to get used to it and not hate it quite as much.
Saturday also brought heat. It was already toasty when I started at Mt. Wilson. I came down the Rim Trail, which is a favorite, but has become choked with Poodle Dog Bush since last I ran it just a month or so ago. I knew my out-and-back plan needed to change because I did not want to come back up through the Poodle Dog and poison oak.
I’d also misfired my ac100 splits, and had it in my head that the Shortcut to Newcombs section was 6.5 miles. In fact, it’s 3 miles longer at 9.5. My route back was going to need to change. I had water stashed at Shortcut, and I was going to need it, so any route that added more than a mile or two to my already extended plan was not going to work. That ruled out a return via Redbox Rincon or up Kenyon Devore from Westfork. All that was left was run the road 5 miles down to Redbox and then another 5 miles up to Mt. Wilson. This meant 23 miles, 19 of them on road or fireroad, in the heat. Perfect. The entire point of this run was to be all the things I least enjoy. I’m too spoiled by the beauty of the rest of the AC100 course. I take the beauty for granted and find myself resenting the ugly parts, which is an attitude that does not serve me well, especially in the second half of the race.