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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# Monday, March 02, 2015

East Las Virgenes Canyon, Ahmanson Ranch

Race director Nancy Shura-Dervin picked a great year, and as it looks now, a great weekend for the inaugural running of the Ahmanson 12K Trails event.

The hills are lush and green; wildflowers are in bloom; valley oaks are sprouting fresh green leaves; and it's looking like race day may be one of those "gotta run" kind of days.

According to today's NWS forecast the area will see dry and warmer weather beginning Tuesday and continuing through race day. While there could be a remnant puddle here or there, four days will be plenty of time for the dirt roads to (mostly) dry out. The Cheeseboro RAWS automated weather station can be used to get an idea of the current weather in the vicinity of the race course.

Over the past 10 years I've logged approximately 6000 miles at Ahmanson Ranch (now Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve) and the loop Nancy has selected for the course is a variation of a favorite.

Here's a Google Earth overview of the 12K course and a preliminary elevation-corrected profile generated in SportTracks. The course is about 7.4 miles long with an elevation gain of about 740 feet. (Note: The loop is run in the clockwise direction.)

Lasky Mesa has long been used to shoot movies, television, commercials, music videos, and even Internet games. Its wildland character and expansive views bely its urban location. For a few weeks one summer the Mission Impossible III bridge was a Lasky Mesa landmark. The aesthetically-shaped valley oak at the west end of Lasky Mesa is a favorite of production companies and I've spotted it in more than one commercial.

The Ahmanson 12K should be an outstanding event on an excellent course in conditions we haven't seen at Ahmanson in several years.

For more information and photos see the Trail Run Events web site and the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve web site.

Some related posts: 10th Anniversary of the Acquisition of Ahmanson Ranch, Coyote Tag, It Was So Muddy That..., Ahmanson Ranch Trail Runs

Monday, March 02, 2015 8:31:52 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Monday, February 09, 2015

The rising sun illuminates a translucent layer of cloud trapped by a shallow inversion in the San Fernando Valley

The rising sun illuminates a translucent layer of cloud trapped by a shallow inversion in the San Fernando Valley. The mid-level clouds above are associated with a system that brought heavy rain to much of California, but would only produce showers in the Los Angeles area.

From Saturday's trail run to Trippet Ranch from the End of Reseda (Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park).

Related post: Garapito Trail Runs

Monday, February 09, 2015 1:10:26 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)  #   
# 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)  #   
# Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mt. Baldy from the North Backbone Trail
Mt. Baldy from the North Backbone Trail

According to my car's thermometer the temperature in the west San Fernando Valley was 86 degrees. To the east a large patch of middle-level clouds had morphed into a large lenticular cloud. Over the course of a few minutes the wave cloud continued to transform, dividing into a train of alto-cumulus waves.

I just shook my head. A few hours earlier and 60 miles away, I had been freezing. The plan had been to do a "Baldy Over the Top" run to the old juniper on the north side of Pine Mountain. Around 8:45 am, as running partner Ann Ongena and I crested the cloud-capped, 10,064' summit of Mt. Baldy, the wind chill temperature had been around 30 degrees. The air temperature was in the low 40s, but with the wind blowing at least 40 mph and gusting to over 50 mph it had been brutally COLD. Especially in running shorts.

Spending zero time on the summit, we waved to the hikers huddled in the rock windbreaks as we sprinted by.  The hope had been that the wind (and temperature) would moderate as we descended the North Devil's Backbone on the back side of Baldy.

It didn't. Wind-driven clouds continued to sweep past the ridge as we ran down the steep path. At the first opportunity we stopped in the wind shadow of a clump of stunted lodgepole pines and put on wind/rain shells. The shells were three ounces of magic -- without them it would have been foolhardy to continue.

As we descended to the Baldy - Dawson Saddle and then climbed up to Dawson Peak I kept looking back over my shoulder to the cloud-shrouded summit of Mt. Baldy. Were there more clouds? Was the ceiling lower? Was there more vertical development?

The day before I had checked the forecast from the NWS and the forecast models. A dissipating cold front was approaching the area from the north, but wasn't expected to pass through until sometime tonight. No measurable rain was forecast for the Los Angeles area. The last time I had checked no clouds had been forecast for Saturday morning -- but there they were. I had expected some southwesterly winds ahead of the front, but nothing like this.

I didn't like being on the back side of the mountain in potentially bad weather knowing that "home" was on the front side. We had just enough gear to deal with the current conditions. I didn't think it was very likely, but if the weather deteriorated...

Many of the incidents that occur in the outdoors are the result of a series of misjudgments. If you're already on the edge it's usually best to call it before things get REALLY complicated.

And that's exactly what we did. After descending a short distance down the ridge from Dawson Peak we turned around. Even if the outing was going to be a bit shorter than planned, it was still going to be an outstanding hike and run in extraordinary conditions with over 6000 feet of elevation gain.

It was just as windy, cold and cloudy on the second trip over the top of Baldy as it had been on the first and we spent about the same number of milliseconds on the summit before picking up the Devil's Backbone trail and running down.

Some related posts: Mountain Weather, Atmospheric Dynamics

Saturday, October 25, 2014 4:45:30 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Monday, September 29, 2014

San Joaquin Ridge, September 2014

With this year's El Nino developing in fits and starts and drought-plagued California clinging to hopes of an above average snowpack, a little September snow is a big deal, even if it's just a dusting.

The first low pressure system of Fall resulted in significant rain in many areas of Central and Northern California, with amounts falling off quickly to the south. According to the NWS, Redding recorded over 3 inches of rain; Red Bluff nearly 2.5 inches; South Lake Tahoe 1.8 inches; Downtown Sacramento and San Francisco both recorded about 0.5 inch.

For a rain-starved, heat-desiccated Southern Californian it was great to get out and play in the snow. I had a window of about three hours to do a run and the run/hike up San Joaquin Ridge from Minaret Summit was superb!

Here are a few photos from the run.

Monday, September 29, 2014 3:30:43 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
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