Gary Valle's Photography on the Run
Images taken on trail runs, and other adventures, in the Open Space and Wilderness areas of California, and beyond. All content, including photography, is Copyright © 2006-2014 Gary Valle. All Rights Reserved.
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# Friday, January 23, 2015

Evening Sky

Also from the run yesterday evening.

Friday, January 23, 2015 4:17:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Thursday, January 22, 2015

East Las Virgenes Canyon from Lasky Mesa

East Las Virgenes Canyon from Lasky Mesa. The hilltop in the background is the highest point of Ahmanson Ranch.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 3:42:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Greening hills of Ahmanson Ranch

Last year on this date (January 14) Downtown Los Angeles (USC) had recorded just under an inch of rain for the water year beginning July 1. Here's what it was like out at Ahmanson Ranch, near upper Las Virgenes Canyon, on January 14, 2014.

Today's photo was also taken at Ahmanson Ranch, the difference being that this year, as of January 14, Downtown Los Angeles has recorded 5.64 inches of rain since July 1, which is about 98% of normal.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 3:06:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Sunday, January 11, 2015

Salsa fat bike at Lawlor Saddle on the Strawberry Peak Circuit

As I was chugging up the Strawberry Peak Trail toward Lawlor Saddle, I heard Craig say something about a mountain biker. That's no surprise on this trail, but what was surprising was the bike he was riding. When we got to the saddle I asked him about it.

The tires are big, but low pressure, negating the need for suspension. And check out the drivetrain -- one small chainring used in combination with a massive cassette.

The bike looked heavy and I asked the rider how much it weighed. He said, "Pick it up." Wow! I guessed 24-25 lbs and now I'm thinking that may have been too high. Based on what the rider said and what I could find on the web, I think the bike is a custom version of the Salsa Full Carbon Beargrease XX1 and could be under 24 lbs. Insane!

Sunday, January 11, 2015 4:03:21 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Saturday, January 10, 2015

Craig on the Colby Canyon Trail segment of the circuit around Strawberry Peak.

Did the circuit around Strawberry Peak with Craig this morning. There was a little rain on the last few miles of the run, but the changeable weather just made the run better.

Saturday, January 10, 2015 4:02:56 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Wednesday, December 31, 2014

View of Blue Canyon from Boney Mountain

The photo above was taken from the edge of the western escarpment of the Boney Mountain massif in the western Santa Monica Mountains. The western side of the mountain is a huge bowl that funnels runoff into Blue Canyon. Blue Canyon can be seen on the left side of the photograph. It is a tributary of Big Sycamore Canyon. More than 60% of the Blue Canyon drainage was burned in the May 2013 Springs Fire.

In the early morning hours of Friday, December 12, 2014, a very strong cold front, enhanced with moisture from an atmospheric river, produced a line of strong storms that produced rain rates in the Springs Fire burn area as high as 2 inches per hour. This resulted in widespread flash floods and debris flows in the burn area, much of which is in Pt. Mugu State Park. Mud and debris flows originating from the burn area inundated homes below Conejo Mountain and closed Pacific Coast Highway.

This slideshow includes photos of the aftermath of the flash floods and debris flows in Blue Canyon, Sycamore Canyon and Upper Sycamore. These were taken on a trail run on December 14, 2014. Also included are some NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard tweets and some additional meteorological images and info.

Note: According to the Pt. Mugu State Park web site, the Park is closed until "at least January 12, 2015."

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 2:22:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Sunday, December 28, 2014

Frank and Lynn on the radar platform at San Vicente Mountain Park.

Frank and Lynn on the radar platform at San Vicente Mountain Park.

This was the easternmost point on a rambling run on dirt Mulholland.

Sunday, December 28, 2014 2:18:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Saturday, December 27, 2014

Runners working their way up Conejo Mountain on the Tour du Conejo Dos Vientos

The first stop on Ann Ongena's excellent end of year "Tour du Conejo Dos Vientos" was Conejo Mountain. In keeping with run's theme, it was a bit breezy on top -- maybe 45-50 mph.

This warm-up (warm up?) was followed by a fun circuit linking trails in the Dos Vientos Open Space trail system.

Saturday, December 27, 2014 2:12:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sunrise at the start of this morning's run in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Sunrise at the start of this morning's run in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Saturday, December 20, 2014 10:02:10 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Saturday, December 13, 2014

The sun rises over the shoulder of Saddle Peak illuminating a shallow layer of fog in Malibu Canyon.

The sun rises over the shoulder of Saddle Peak illuminating a shallow layer of fog in Malibu Canyon.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 9:31:12 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Thursday, November 27, 2014

Running up a hill in the Hoka One One Mafate Speed

Since being acquired by Decker Outdoor Corporation in April 2013, Hoka One One has continued to innovate, improving existing designs and introducing many new designs.

Back in February when we were last talking about Hokas, I'd been running in the Mafate 2s and had just purchased a couple of pairs of Mafate 3s. The Mafate 2s were big, mega-cushioned, protective, durable and moderately heavy. I put over 1000 miles on one pair of Mafate 2s and around 300-500 miles on each of several other pairs.

The Mafate 3 improved several aspects of the Mafate design, but gained weight in the process. My Mafate 3s are more than an ounce heavier than my 13.8 oz. Mafate 2s. Heavy or not, I did a lot of training and a few races in the Mafate 3s and overall the shoes have worked well for me.

Add an ounce here and an ounce there and pretty soon you're running in a shoe that weighs nearly a pound -- or more in some circumstances. Although it hasn't been a problem for me in drought-plagued Southern California, the Mafate 3s can become insanely heavy when wet. A friend that lives on the North Shore weighed them in at a foot-dragging 1.5 pounds each after a wet run!

The weight of the Mafate 3s and lower volume toe box were not ideal, so I started looking for an alternative. In April 2014 I got a pair of Hoka Rapa Nui 2s. The Rapa Nui 2s are a far more nimble shoe, with less cushioning, less protection, and a lot less weight than the Mafate 3. My first pair of Rapa Nui 2s weighed in at about 11.2 oz. per shoe.

The Rapa Nui 2s fast became by favorite shoe. There are always trade-offs in design and the Rapa Nui 2s are not as durable as the Mafate 3. In normal running on dirt roads and single-track trails I usually get around 300 miles out of the Rapa Nui 2. However, a very rough and steep trail can beat up the shoes very quickly. This pair had about 160 miles on them when we did a run over Mt. Baldy and down the North Backbone trail and then descended Register Ridge on the way back to Manker Flat.

What I needed was a shoe that combined the best features of the Rapa Nui 2 and Mafate 3. And that's why I tried the Mafate Speed. They are lightweight, protective, not over-sized, have very good cushioning, and are more durable than the Rapa Nui 2. The perfect choice for a long run, right?

I thought so. I'd never had a serious problem with any Hoka, but did with this pair of Mafate Speeds. By mile 9 of the AC100 the ankle cuff of the shoe had worn a bloody sore on my right outer ankle bone. I switched back to Rapa Nui 2s and had no more foot problems.

This experience made me wary of the Mafate Speeds, but I really liked the shoe and recently decided to try them again. And again I had the problem with the right ankle cuff digging into my ankle.

In each case the chaffing was much worse on the right ankle. Why wasn't the left shoe digging into my ankle? After taking a closer look at the shoes it turned out the external plastic stiffener on the right shoe was much closer to the ankle collar than on the left shoe. This made the minimally-padded collar less flexible.

After I trimmed the stiffener to increase the gap, the problem was mostly resolved. I say mostly because I think the cuff could still benefit from a bit more padding. I'll have to see how they feel on a 25+ mile run on technical single track, but I think they'll probably be OK.

Although I've had this issue on both pairs of Mafate Speeds I've purchased, I checked the Mafate Speeds of a couple of friends and the spacing between the collar and stiffener were more or less equal on their shoes.

So for now, the Rapa Nui 2 is still my go-to shoe for races and my training time is about equally split between the Rapa Nui 2, Mafate Speed and Mafate 3. If the Mafate Speed (modified as necessary) works out OK on longer runs I'll probably do more training and perhaps racing in the Mafate Speeds. We'll see!

Update January 23, 2015. I've returned the Mafate Speeds and exchanged them for a second pair of the Hoka One One Challengers. The Challenger is very lightweight and comfortable, and it doesn't have the 'External TPU Heel Counter' that (in my case) over-stiffens the ankle collar.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 2:31:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Comparison of Whitney (Trail), San Gorgonio (Vivian Creek) and San Jacinto (Devils Slide)

Updated November 12, 2014. Added Register Ridge on Mt. Baldy and the Siberia Creek Trail in Big Bear.

Southern California is noted for its foothills and mountains. It's so hilly here that most trail runs have at least one good climb. Even if you aren't a high mileage runner, the elevation gained on those hills can add up fast. So far this year SportTracks puts my cumulative elevation gain at about 320,000 feet.

I was curious to see how some of the "hills" in Southern California compare, so I wrote a Flash application that interactively displays the elevation profiles of a selection of SoCal ascents. Generally trails were picked that could be done in day from L.A. The selection includes some East Side Sierra ascents, routes up most of the major Southern California peaks, and some hills from some Southern California races.

The profiles and other stats are based on DEM corrected data from GPS tracks. All distances, elevations, elevation gains and elevation profiles are approximate. Elevations have been corrected and elevation gains (conservatively) calculated using SportTracks.

The Flash app is loading a lot of data, so it may take a while to load. The app is best viewed on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. It can't be viewed on an iPad/iPhone unless a browser that supports Flash, such as Photon, is used. Here is the updated selection of elevation profiles and the selection from 2012. The "Fit Selected" button is used to fit the chart to the currently selected set of elevation profiles. The "Fit Elev/Distance" button is used to format the chart according to user specified elevations and distances.

In this selection of hills Cactus to Clouds is the longest (14.7 miles) and has the most altitude gain (10,812 feet). Register Ridge on Mt. Baldy has the steepest mile (1745 fpm) and is the steepest overall (1127 fpm). Mt. Whitney has the highest finishing elevation (14,505 feet).

Following are some additional details about each of the ascents, including the length of the climb, elevation gain, average gradient and steepest mile. The distance specified is just for climb described -- not the entire run. The headings below are the shorthand name of the climb used in the legend of the app.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10:12:25 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
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