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.
# Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mt. Baldy from near the summit of Strawberry Peak, in the San Gabriel Mountains.

My legs were still pretty worked from the Boney Mountain Half Marathon. Instead of backing off of the pace on my weekday workouts, I had continued to experiment with a change in running technique that was resulting in faster paced runs. I was excited about the increase in speed, but logging fast times on oft-run courses after a strenuous race doesn't equal recovery. Neither does blasting up a peak in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Sunday, January 18, 2009 7:51:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Greening grass at Sage Ranch Park

Green beneath Summer's bleached stalks, the growth of this grass at Sage Ranch reflects the near normal rain season we've had to date in the Los Angeles area, and over much of Southern California. Since the start of the water year on July 1, Downtown Los Angeles (USC) has recorded 4.66 inches of rain. When this photograph was taken, January 11th, 4.66 inches was almost exactly normal rainfall for the date.

However, as is so often the case in Southern California, this apparent normality is the sum of offsetting wet and dry periods. December's precipitation was generally well above normal, but January has been dry, dry, dry. Today, the Los Angeles rainfall total is about 0.5 inch below normal, and every day it doesn't rain, our deficit increases by about 0.10 inch.

So when might it rain? A very strong 200 kt Pacific jet stream has pushed up a high pressure ridge over the West Coast, blocking storms and warming temperatures. Big upper level ridges such as this are consistent with La Nina, and have been a recurring theme this Fall and Winter. Much of our rainfall and cold weather this season has occurred when an extended Pacific jet collapses or contracts, and a blocking ridge shifts west, opening the door to cold storms plunging down the backside of the ridge from the north.

Over the next 1-2 weeks, this is expected to happen again, but this time there is a wildcard in the mix. One of the reasons the Pacific jet is so strong is the active phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is present in the Western Pacific. As described in this Climate Prediction Center document, this scenario sometimes leads to a heavy West Coast precipitation event.

It's too far out for the medium range models to be of much help in assessing the likelihood of such an event developing. At the moment, about the only thing that can be said with some certainty is that a pattern change is in the works, and by the end of January there is a chance of some rain in California and the West. We'll see!

Related post: Southern California 2008-2009 Winter Precipitation Outlook, Snow on Oat Mountain

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 10:10:14 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Friday, January 09, 2009

A California fuchsia in deep shade blooming in December in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Deep in shade on a north-facing chaparral slope, this California fuchsia (Epilobium canum ssp. canum) has not savored direct sunshine for weeks. Overnight temperatures in the Santa Monica Mountains have dropped to freezing several times this Winter, and frosts have been common. But this hardy plant continues to bloom.

According to the Jepson Manual this subspecies ranges up to about 5000 ft. in elevation, and the parent species up to about 10,000 ft. As a genus, Epilobium is well represented by species that grow at higher latitudes and elevations, and must have developed adaptations that help it flourish in cooler climes.

From a run on the Old Boney Trail on December 27, 2008.

Friday, January 09, 2009 1:04:17 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Thursday, January 01, 2009

Airy summit on the western ridge on Boney Mountain`s north side.

The posts Boney Mountain - Big Sycamore Canyon Circuit and Boney Mountain Western Ridge & Loop describe two routes that ascend the north side of Boney Mountain -- a circuitous eastern ridge route, and a more difficult western ridge.

These two routes can be combined into an adventurous loop that starts and ends at the junction of Danielson Road and the Old Boney Trail. The loop, with no side trips, works out to about 4 miles. Add in the 2.5 mile approach from the Wendy Drive trailhead, and the total distance for the course is about 9 miles, with an elevation gain of a bit over 2000 ft.

I did the loop counterclockwise -- up the western ridge and then down the eastern. The New Year's weather could not have been better. Dense fog clung to the coast, but a brisk offshore breeze kept inland views crystal-clear. On the way up the western ridge I couldn't resist doing a short detour to climb one of the crag's appealing summits.

At the top of the western ridge, I briefly debated doing Tri-Peaks and Big Dome, but was hoping to make it home by noon, so skipped those side trips.

With gravity on my side, the run down the eastern ridge was not nearly as gnarly as I thought it might be. I was running in Inov-8 Roclite 305s -- nimble shoes with a fell running heritage. Mine weigh only 21.1 oz./pair (US 9.0) and were particularly well-suited to the rough terrain.

This climb and adventure run was a great way to start the New Year -- and I did make it home in time for lunch with my wife!

Here's a Google Earth image of a GPS trace of my route.

Thursday, January 01, 2009 1:44:18 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Saturday, December 27, 2008

Part way up the western ridge route on Boney Mountain's north side.

Two routes are commonly used to climb the rugged north side of Boney Mountain. One route ascends a ridge to the east of the Danielson cabin site, and the other a rocky ridge to the west of the site. Today, I was planning to do the western ridge, and then continue up and over Tri-Peaks to the Chamberlain segment of the Backbone Trail.

Saturday, December 27, 2008 2:31:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunset view of Simi Valley, with Boney Mountain and Conejo Mountain in the distance.

Clouds moving onshore ahead of a low pressure system that is expected to produce rain in Southern California Christmas Eve into Christmas Day. Track of the low is now projected to be a little more to the west, so the heaviest rain may occur just offshore.

From an out and back run yesterday to "fossil point" via the Chumash Trail and Rocky Peak fire road. View is of Simi Valley, with Boney Mountain and Conejo Mountain in the distance.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 1:47:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Monday, December 22, 2008

adidas Response Trail 15 Trail Running Shoe

Comfortable, cushioned and durable. That's how I would characterize the adidas Response Trail. I've had two pairs of the Response Trail 14s in my shoe rotation since September 2007, and logged around 1000 miles between them. (Your mileage may vary.)

About a month ago I replaced one of the pairs with the adidas Response Trail 15s. I've put 75 miles on the new pair, and other than a change in colors, it seems not much has changed in the shoe. It's still well-cushioned, comfortable and lightweight. The new pair weighed in at 24.7 oz./pair (US 9.5). At $80 or less, the Response Trail 15s are an excellent value.

At the moment, my primary trail running shoes are the Salomon XT Wings (105 miles), Salomon SpeedComp (110 miles), and adidas Response Trail 15s.

Monday, December 22, 2008 10:12:59 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Sunday, December 21, 2008

Valley oak sapling along upper Las Virgenes Creek.

Turning leaves on a valley oak sapling along upper Las Virgenes Creek.

Sunday, December 21, 2008 1:40:16 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rocks and snow at the top of the Chumash Trail, near its junction with Rocky Peak fire road. December 18, 2008.

Rocks and snow at the top of the Chumash Trail, near its junction with Rocky Peak fire road, in Rocky Peak Park.

From Thursday's run in the snow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008 9:12:33 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow on Oat Mountain. December 18, 2008.

Our latest storm added another half inch of rain to our water year total in Los Angeles. This brings the water year rainfall total to 2.85 inches. This is 1.35 inches above normal for the date. As much as a foot of snow was reported in the Antelope Valley and the snow level dropped to near 2000 ft in the foothills and mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties.

Snow on Rocky Peak fire road. What's next? Things should stay dry in Southern California until around Monday, when a fast moving front sweeps through the state. Later in the week, sometime around Christmas, the models are suggesting the possibility of a major system impacting California. We'll see!

The photograph of Oat Mountain was taken this morning on an out and back run on Rocky Peak fire road. The highest stretches of the fire road were covered with an icy layer of snow.

Related post: Chumash Trail Rocks & Snow

Thursday, December 18, 2008 7:38:28 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Sunday, December 14, 2008

The flowers of telegraphweed (Heterotheca grandiflora) are a striking yellow.

Growing in clusters at the top of a bristly, 1-2m, gray-green stem, the flowers of telegraphweed (Heterotheca grandiflora) are a striking yellow.

The plant is native to California. From a Fall run at Sage Ranch.

Sunday, December 14, 2008 4:10:22 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #   
# Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rabbitfoot grass (Polypogon monspeliensis) along a vernal stream course in East Las Virgenes Canyon.

Rabbitfoot grass (Polypogon monspeliensis) along a vernal stream course in East Las Virgenes Canyon in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahamanson Ranch).

This grass is not native to California. From a run in October.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 3:33:00 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)  #