Craig Wisner

A Perfect Sunday Run

It rained for the latter half of the week…I wake up Sunday morning to spot this above my house; there is only one thing you can do in a situation like this…

Looking up Fair Oaks

Running out my front door and into the snow is a rare treat in Altadena, days like this being few and far between.  These trails have been my backyard for well over two decades and yet I can probably count how many times I’ve run them in the snow, especially the lower peaks like Echo Mountain.

Amazing scenery given I ran the same trail last Thursday and it was completely dry.

The crowds were out in full force today, a steady stream of North Face jackets, large loads, Trango boots, and the occasional pack with ice axe and crampons affixed.  Apparently climbing a trail to the summit of a 3000-5000 foot peak in the snow is quite an auspicious task.

Las Flores Canyon

I ran the Sam Merrill to Echo Mountain, went out to the ruins and snapped a few pictures, then continued up Castle Canyon to Inspiration Lookout.  I was pondering going all the way up to Mt. Lowe but the ultra sloppy conditions of Castle Canyon had me thinking otherwise.  It was a frozen rainforest, the snow in the trees melting at an alarming rate and raining down continuously.  There were also tons of blown down trees and bushes, requiring scrambles on all fours to get under or over them, coming 0ut the other side completely soaked from snow.  Given I had a single water bottle, no spare clothes, and I was soaked head to toe with ice water, I figured I’d use a bit of better judgment and call it quits at the lookout.

Echo Mountain

Castle Canyon rainforest

Higher in Castle Canyon

The cluster of white buildings is JPL

Inspiration Lookout

Mount Wilson

Inspiration Peak

Apparently I made quite a sight running shirtless and in little shorts up there, given the overabundance of preparation most hikers had gone through.  I was actually warmer without the wet shirt on, completely enjoying the sun and the cold air.  Surprisingly, people seemed to have no problem stepping aside for me.

The hairless white primate of the San Gabriel Mountains. Notice the colorful markings used to attract the opposite sex. Or was it to ward them off? A strange creature indeed.

I decided to take the Sam Merrill back down, wanting to avoid all the blow downs and see the back side of the mountains.  This is where I was truly surprised, running through a nice base of packed powder for the next mile until I came back out on the front.  The north slopes were absolutely amazing, very rare snowpack for our location and elevation.

Descending Upper Sam Merrill.

On the way back to Echo the clouds had rolled in, spurring me to pick up the pace before getting caught shirtless in a storm.  More sloppy, sloppy, sloppy ice and mud, now working its way into my shoes.  In no time I was back down to Echo, dodging the crowds and making a quick descent to the bottom.

Burn in the snow.

Sloppy sloppy. And cold.

Cyclopean Monolith of The Elder Gods. An octopus-headed figure carved of an uncertain greenish stone stood in the nook.

I knew the water and grit was rubbing pretty good in my left shoe, then I went ahead and tripped and kicked a gash in my Achilles to boot…got home to discover some pretty good carnage.  This is the second time…Will I ever learn that runs of this type require socks?  Go ahead, call me stupid or stubborn.  Blood only makes me run harder.

Delightful Carnage.

A perfect Sunday.  I believe the grand total was roughly 12 miles and +/- 7000-8000 feet cumulative.

If you live in the area, get up there while you still have time.


2 responses

  1. Killer run Craig. I don’t know how you deal with the crowds up in your mountains, I’d lose it running past ‘mountaineers’ heading up the trails on my runs- I suppose the best course of action is to be the example of how silly their unnecessarily drastic measures can be. How far is the trailhead from your house? Front door to summit and back- I’m green with envy- beautiful country there.

    I was in Arcadia last March for a wedding and went for a short trail run up in the Chantry Flats area, the crowds were unreal and I couldn’t figure out why everyone was decked out from head to toe in gear as if they were climbing a fourteener in February. Mind boggling.

    February 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    • Thanks Eugene.
      I’d love to get out for some desert running with you.

      The trailhead for this one is about 1.2 from my house, pretty sweet. But yeah, the crowds are a bit silly, but really only on weekends. Go in past 4 miles and you’ve it all to yourself.

      Take care dude.

      February 20, 2011 at 10:43 pm

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