Thursday, October 1, 2009

Angeles Crest 100 - West Coast Tour

Julie Treder, Angela Barbera and Brian Seegert headed west anyway when the AC 100 got cancelled... Here's a report of what went down...

The Angeles Crest 100 came into view shortly after Western States 2007... just long enough for the memory of the difficulty of a mountain race to soften. Ralph agreed to run another California race, not the following year, but when he turned 60. Sweet!! AC100 2009, it was!! Unfortunately, those plans never had a chance to materialize like we hoped. I still wanted to stick to the plan and I can't tell you how happy I was that Angela agreed to run too. The first day the registration opened, we were ready to sign up... one year in advance. Flash forward one year, when Mother Nature and an arsonist had other plans for us. Fires scorched over half the course, causing the race to be cancelled. That didn't stop Angela and I though... we were off to CA to get our 100 miles in.

Thursday, 9/17
The clock to get the 100 in started Thursday afternoon. Angela and I went to Wrightwood to check out the race start... me driving and Angela flat on her back in the passenger seat, stricken with a 24-hour bug. We were denied access to the starting line since all the roads leading to it were ripped to shreds from the fire-fighting machinery. Off to the hotel we went... to Arrowbear. We caught an awesome deal and went to the room next to the office, as the hotel owner said. We soon realized that room was connected to the office. The good deal on the room finally made sense. After realizing our room was the NEXT one down, we breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed before our first big day of running.

Friday, 9/18
Day one started at Keller Peak in the San Bernandino National Forest, one mile from the hotel. I ran the trails to the top of the 6000' mountain. The trail wound all around the side of the mountain, giving you views of the ski hill adjacent to the park. Beautiful views of the mountainside could be seen... for miles. All you could hear was the sound of your footsteps... and your huffing and puffing. It was exhilarating to have the trail to yourself... what a great way to get the odometer running. Luckily, Angela was feeling better enough to walk up the roadway to the peak. Not quite what she expected, but miles nonetheless.
Onward to pick up the third of our trio, Brian. Our plans to get an afternoon run in was thwarted since the whole Angeles National Forest was closed down due to the fires... and the Ponoma College Science Dept never answered our call to request entry onto their trails. The only decision was to hit the road toward San Francisco... and Montana de Oro State Park. The night was spent in Morro Bay, where the restaurants close at 9:00 (except one, thankfully!) and the sea lions congregate on rafts in the marina and roar all night long.

12 miles for the day = 12 miles total

Saturday, 9/19
As we drove to the parking lot in Montana de Oro Park, we saw a couple of people running on the roads. Why, with all the beautiful trails in the park, would people run the roads? We found out when we started off on the DUNES TRAIL. Can there be trails tougher to run on than those consisting of loose sand?? Luckily, the trails on the other side of the road were packed dirt and were runnable. Not a half mile up that trail did we encounter another runner saying she spotted a mountain lion near the peak. Suddenly the road sounded like a good option, but we continued on the trail. We ran through eucalyptus forests, up gradual inclines, along the sharpest switchbacks I have ever seen, and through sand traps. We spotted lizards and horses... but no mountain lions or unexploded ordinances which the signs in the park warned about. Unfortunately, any view we hoped to have of the ocean were blocked by the thick fog that rolled in and out. We were not denied our ocean experience though. After running, we stopped at the beach, watched the surfers attack the huge waves, and cooled our ankles (and unexpectedly our hips!) in the chilly waves that came upon the shore.
17 miles for the day = 29 miles total

Sunday, 9/20
What better way to see a trail than with a personal guide. Lucky for us, fellow speedy Wisconsin ultrarunner turned educated Berkeley student, Casey Schutte, agreed to show us the trails outside Berkeley. We ran along the trails in Tilden Regional Park... where mountain lions weren't the feared animal, but encounters with grazing cattle were. Where else can you expect to round a corner in the middle of the woods to see a wayward cow in the middle of the trail. Deer, yes... cows, no. We ran along creeks, through more eucalyptus forests, across open fields, dodged countless cowpies... all while capturing wonderful views of San Francisco and surrounding suburbs. Beautiful place to run!
For R&R in the afternoon, we headed toward Stockton... where my aunt and uncle have a boat docked at a marina. We had the chance to relax on their boat, take their new jet ski out for a roll along the Delta (cruising along at 51 mph!!), tipped back a drink or two, and watched the sun set as stories of my childhood were shared. I couldn't ask for a better way to spend the day... well, except for all the childhood memories.
16 miles for the day = 45 miles total

Monday, 9/21
We started at the trailhead at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge... or so we thought. The bridge was blanketed in fog, but the fog horns gave the bridge away. A wrong turn off the bat took us down to the campground, then up past some old WWII bunkers. Very cool to see, but a little freaky with all the graffiti and dark rooms inside. Too many episodes of Cops, I guess. We did find a longer trail that took us along great views of many more mountains, the city of San Francisco, down steep canyon trails... only to dead end at a road. Lucky for us, two nice ladies walking their dogs gave us directions to the nearest connection to the trail. But after hearing we were ultrarunners, they had MANY other options of courses to try. Not really wanting to follow the 50+ mile course they offered, we took their first option and headed toward the Miwok Trail. We braved the heat and the climbs to get back to the car. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity of running on the Golden Gate Bridge, we continued on to run the bridge end to end and back... braving the high winds, the loud traffic, and the countless pedestrians/bikers. One more thing to cross off our bucket lists!!
23 miles for the day = 68 miles total

Tuesday, 9/22
Angela had to slave away at the office, leaving Brian and I to find some new trails. We found that at the Blue Jay Campground in the Cleveland National Forest (same forest that two local ultrarunners were lost for three days at... yikes!!). The Blue Jay Campground is pretty remote, outside of any cities and another couple miles up the parkway. With temps expected to top 100, Brian and I headed to higher ground and kept the mileage low. With a few sections of cover from trees, the rest was in the open. Our arms got scratched up by bushes encroaching the trails, the gulleys in the trails made the powerline section at Voyageur look tame... but did we get amazing views of huge rocks strewn along the mountains. The heat on this run turned the liquids in our bottles into what tasted like hot tea in no time. Something we didn't get in Wisconsin this year. Amazing!!
10 miles for the day = 78 mile total

Wednesday, 9/23
The heat was on again. Angela had the right idea of heading out for her fun at 5:30am, before hitting the office. Brian and I were scrambling to find a trailhead to run from, since our initial plan of Limestone Canyon Regional Park turned into a bust. We did find a trail along the Modjeska Grade, near the Limestone Canyon Regional Park. It was a wide, packed dirt trail that wound up and along the mini mountain. Near our turn around point, in the middle of nowhere, stood an American flag on top of a climb. Nice view!
Off we headed to Hollywood to catch a taping of the Jimmy Kimmel show. With a little spare time to waste before getting in line for the show, we decided to take advantage of the $7.00 34oz beer at the Snow White Bar. We downed our beer and headed to our line... only to miss out on getting into the studio by four people. Bummer!! It was still a good beer and we got to see what a movie premier looks like (for Zombieland)... as well as Chucky (scary!!).
8 miles for the day = 86 miles total

Thursday, 9/24
Our final day... boo hoo! We decided on Topanga State Park. We headed off on a trail that lead to a waterfall... how can you pass that up? Unfortunately, forest rangers were working on a fallen tree that blocked the path to the waterfall... so we continued on a different trail. Denied! We doubled back on the trail after it ended at the entrance to a gated community... and continued along to Eagle Rock -- one of the hugest rocks I have ever seen. Energy levels were waning, so we headed back to the car to refuel. Since there were no soda machines in the park, we decided to finish our miles at a different park after loading up on Mountain Dew at the nearest gas station we could find (which was extremely difficult!). The second park we chose was Malibu Creek State Park... the best park we could have picked to finish at. Not only did we get to pass through the site where MASH was filmed, we got to run through areas where Planet of the Apes was taped. Countless trails lead through this park... but they all finish at a creek (which was a blessing after the day's salty run) and a soda machine. Heaven on earth!!
We toasted our accomplishments in Calabasas, feasting on beer, sushi (thanks for broadening my horizons, Angela!), beer, pizza, and more beer (Brian too... there is photo proof!!). The perfect end to the perfect vacation!! Thank you Brian and Angela!!
20 miles for the day = 106 miles total

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