Labor Day weekend has arrived and its time to go check out Yosemite National Park. Ive been intrigued by this park for years so I am excited to finally have this opportunity. Its a holiday weekend and crowds are to be expected on the main trails out of the valley, but my plan is to stick to the back country and avoid the traffic. I hope there isnt a line to hike up Half Dome on Saturday. Something tells me its going to be a busy day on the cables.
This trip is a bit different than my recent adventures for it will be at a relaxed pace of roughly 10 miles per day. I hope you all have fantastic, long weekends and bring back stories to share with the community next week. Stay tuned for trip details and plenty of great video footage upon my return. ~Active Toby
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.John Muir (1838 - 1914)
The through-hike on Saturday was amazing. The weather was perfect thanks to a nearby storm system that kept temperatures moderate while we were exposed above tree line. This enabled our group to maintain pace and finish in the projected time of 10 hours. I created an Active Video slideshow of the trek:
I’m set to depart San Diego on Friday after work with three companions for a high-altitude training session. We are doing a through-hike from the Angelus Oaks campground (6,000 feet) at the base of San Bernardino Mountain to the Vivian Creek trailhead parking lot at the base of Mount San Gorgonio. Our two vehicles will remain at the starting and finishing points of our 27-mile trek.
We’ll get started at 5 a.m. and tackle a 4,400-foot ascent to the summit of San Bernardino Mountain at 10,400 feet. Once we get to the ridge line, our journey continues eastward, traversing across the entire ridgeline of the San Bernardino Mountains, hence the “San Bernardino Traverse” or the “9 Peak Traverse” to Mount San Gorgonio which, at 11,500 feet, happens to be the highest peak in Southern California.
The final push is an eight-mile descent off of “San G” via the Vivian Creek trail. We should arrive at the second car roughly 10 hours, 27 miles and 8,000 feet in net elevation gain later. If all goes according to plan, we’ll be back in San Diego just after sunset. Here is a list of the peaks we will summit during our trek:
Angeles Oaks Trailhead
San Bernardino Peak
San Bernardino Peak East
Little Charlton Peak
Mount San Gorgonio
I completed this trek in June 2006 in 11 hours, 20 minutes. Here are two pictures from that journey. Stay tuned for a recap and pictures early next week.
My morning commute was made even more interesting when a car horn barked at me from a two-door sedan driven by a middle-aged woman. Apparently, this was an attempt to warn me that I was hogging the traffic lane. At the time, I was not aware of my mistake so I politely inquired through her lowered driver-side window at the next traffic light. I apologized to the woman, then reminded her of the importance of sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians. Her response was a long and spiteful release of the phrase shut up as she closed her window.
Our lovely conversation continued at the next stop light, through her window which she had lowered in the meantime. I asked her the following question: Why are you in this much of a rush to get to work? I then followed with: I am simply trying to get there alive, leaving her with that to think about as I pedaled away.
I arrived at the office today and learned of another incident involving three of my teammates here at work during their group commute. I didnt get the details but from what I gather, it involved a driver in a hurry to pass who cut them all off and added a middle finger out the driver-side window to top it all off.
Im new to this bike-commuting thing. I think its great for a variety of reasons which still continue to outweigh these negative experiences. All I hope for is the safety of my friends, fellow cyclists and me while we are out there. Ive heard too many stories lately of people waking up in the hospital when the last thing they remember was riding their bike. I dont want that to be me and I dont want that to be anyone I know.
Cyclists arent out there to keep you from getting to work, damage your car or ruin your day. They just want to ride and some actually want to contribute to helping the environment. Most of the time, the inconvenience we cause to drivers is merely slowing you down on your way to the next stop sign or red light.
A half-marathon distance separated me from the finish line when the elevation, fatigue and high temperatures of the exposed terrain finally attacked the little energy I had left. It was 5 p.m. on Saturday and I was 37 miles into the Mt. Disappointment 50-Mile Ultra Marathon. It was then that every muscle in both legs contracted and remained locked-up as I literally collapsed to the ground.
As anyone who’s experienced a foot cramp can tell you, the involuntary nature of the contraction is quite uncomfortable. Now imagine this happening to all of your legs muscles; calves, quads, groin and hamstrings simultaneously causing both feet to turn inwards as you stumble and collapse on the hot, dry fire road over four-miles from the next aid station.
I had just completed a three-mile descent and was one, maybe two, miles into the six-mile ascent before the next aid station. I had to beat the 6:30 p.m. cut-off time and I knew I had to regain my strength if I wanted to continue. After collapsing, I crawled across the trail and took refuge from the sun under the shade of a yucca plant. Here, I desperately rummaged through my pack to find my endurance fuels. I ingested a pair of electrolyte capsules and an energy gel, then chased them down with a mouthful of warm water and sports-drink mixture.
As I lay there, the muscles spasms were firing at random and causing me to bellow in pain. I tried to remain calm and relax my muscles as I waited for the endurance fuels to work. Within minutes, two race officials stood over me and asked, “Are you OK?” Wondering if they were real or if I had begun to hallucinate, I asked the race official to take a picture of me using my camera. Attached is a photo of me taken by one of the officials, who laughed at my strange request. In the background, you can see the top of Mount Wilson where the finish line was located.
I got up under my own power and completed the five miles and 2,800 feet of elevation gain to the second-to-last aid station with only 15 minutes to spare. I was out of the aid station by the 6:30 p.m. cut-off and on my way to the last aid station, located 1,650 feet below on a four-mile descent. This section took me just over an hour and I was the last racer to make it in time to be allowed to continue on to the final stage. Everyone left on the course behind me would be transported to the finish line once they arrived at this final aid station.
So there I was, alone, the only runner left for the final six miles. 2,600 feet of climbing switchbacks up the east side of the mountain separated me from the goal I had been pursuing for the last 13 hours. Within a half-hour darkness closed in. I was switched on my headlamp to illuminate the single-track trail. My physical and mental condition was worsening by the minute as the elevation increased with each step. My vision was blurred, my eyes burned and I could only see one step ahead--for three hours. Step by step I continued, digging deeper into my heart than I have ever had to in my life.
This symbolized the true beginning of the race. I figured most runners, families and volunteers were already home. They had already showered, had dinner and some were probably sleeping.
Sleep. All I could think about was sleep. I wanted to sleep and to wake up in my own bed. I tried to sit down to rest but it was too painful. The muscles in my legs began to cramp again and I got up and pressed on. If only I could take a nap, I thought. Then this reasoning was challenged with the fact that even if I did sleep, I would still have to finish the race when I woke up and it would be harder to finish after stopping than if I just kept going.
So I kept going until I found a rock that stuck out about head level. I turned off my head lamp, folded my arms over the rock and rested my head upon my arms. Less than two minutes later, my eyes were open, my headlamp was on again and I was in forward pursuit of the finish line.
These mental and physical games of resting, stretching and battling from within my head and my heart continued for three hours until I could see the radio towers at the summit of Mount Wilson through the thick canopy of trees above. I set foot on the pavement with a sigh of relief as I emerged from the darkness and into the final 100 yards of my journey. My friends and remaining race volunteers all dropped what they were doing to congratulate me on my 15-hour, 15-minute finish. I was recipient of the “Get-to-the Finish” award, which is given to the runner who shows true determination. After a 45-minute rest in a chair, I had consumed a caffeinated soft-drink and my muscle spasms subsided. I was finally ready for the drive back to San Diego and to sleep in my own bed (not on a rock!).
The Mount Disappointment 50 Mile ultra marathon begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Ill be camping at the start/finish line (5,650 feet above sea level) the night before the race. My primary objective for this race is to cross the finish line within the allotted time limit of 15 hours.
My race-day apparel consists of a technical running cap with an attachable neck-cape that protects the neck and face from the sun. Ill be wearing sunglasses with polarized, photochromatic lenses that adjust tint level based on exposure to light levels. My shirt and shorts are a synthetic material, and the compression shorts underneath will keep my leg muscles supported and prevent chafing. A full application of anti-friction cream in various at-risk areas will also aid in this effort while subsequent applications throughout the day will be necessary. Ill be wearing my Injinji toe socks inside of my trail runners and I will have a fresh pair of both shoes and socks in my drop-bag awaiting my arrival at the 41.40-mile aid station. Ill also be wearing a pair of trail gaiters to prevent scree and other small objects from entering my shoes and slowing me down.
My hydration pack contains a 3-liter water reservoir and I will be mixing a concoction of sports drinks that have worked for me in the past. I will also have four additional pre-packaged servings in my pack to re-mix when necessary. My assortment of electrolyte capsules, energy gels, bars and natural fruit will keep me fueled between each of the nine, fully stocked aid stations along the course that will provide additional endurance foods and liquids.
My pack will also contain a blister kit, small amount of duct tape, a few anti-inflammatory meds, drivers license, medical information and sunscreen that is not oil- or alcohol-based so as to not risk an increase of body temperature because Saturday is going to be hot: 80 degrees by 11 a.m. and near 90 degrees until 5 p.m. This race is 19 miles longer than the Lake Hodges 50K that I finished in 6 hours, 15 minutes, plus it has a total of 8,500 feet of elevation changes so it will obviously be a physically and mentally demanding day.
Im thrilled for this opportunity to push my limits once again because Ive learned valuable lessons in training and competition this year. Im excited to put all of my cross training and sports psychology techniques to use because I am going into this race feeling more mentally and physically fit than I have ever felt before in my lifetime. I look forward to sharing my experience with you next week upon my return. Thank you all for your continued support.
A resource for adventure created to inspire. First-hand trip reports, wild stories and ideas for excursions of your own. Questions about gear and trip planning are encouraged. Feel free to offer your stories and suggestions. Active Toby