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.
# Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Simi Valley from Rocky Peak
Simi Valley and the Pacific Coast from Rocky Peak Road

What better way to recover from the Bulldog 50K than running Ahmanson and Rocky Peak on two of the hottest days of the year?

Yesterday, Pierce College in Woodland Hills hit a scorching 111°F, and then today 109°F. At the start of today's run it was still over 100°F on Rocky Peak, but extra (ice) water, and a bit of a breeze kept things mostly reasonable.

No matter the weather, you'll always see someone else on Rocky Peak!

Some related posts: Rocky Peak Rainstorm, Snow on Oat Mountain

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 9:39:55 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, August 21, 2010

Goat Buttes and the Bulldog Climb from Near the Start of the Bulldog 50K
Goat Buttes and the Bulldog Climb from Near the Start

The week following the Mt. Disappointment 50K, with the Edison and Kenyon Devore climbs still etched in my mind, I noticed that the Bulldog 50K hadn't filled yet. Hmmm... Could I do it? The little hill on my Wednesday afternoon run hadn't felt bad. Thursday I had done a little longer run, with a little longer hill. It was no Bulldog climb, but it felt OK. I decided that if the 50K didn't fill by Friday, and the weather forecast for the race wasn't crazy hot, I'd give the Bulldog 50K a go.

Saturday, August 21, 2010 10:50:44 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, August 07, 2010

Mt. Disappointment 50K 2010

The most remarkable thing about this year's Mt. Disappointment Endurance run is that there was a 2010 race. The Station Fire and heavy Winter rains decimated the San Gabriel Mountains. Without the hard work and dedication of Gary & Pam Hilliard and a host of volunteers the 6th edition of the race never would have happened.

Saturday, August 07, 2010 2:27:33 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Developing Limber pine cones

Developing cones on a limber pine near the start of the Vincent Tumamait Trail on Mt. Pinos (8831'). Limber pines are a hardy, 5-needled, species generally found at higher altitude in the western U.S.

Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) is a white pine, related to whitebark and bristlecone pines. They are slow growing, and can be very long-lived. According to the Gymnosperm Database, two trees have been crossdated with ages of about 1600 years.

In Southern California limber pines are found on Mt. Pinos, Mt. Baden-Powell, San Gorgonio Mountain, Mt. San Jacinto, and some other areas above about 8500'.

Related post: Forest Green

Wednesday, August 04, 2010 12:50:48 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, July 30, 2010

Chalk liveforever (Dudleya pulverulenta)

It was eerily quiet high on the mountain. No birds chattered in the chaparral, and it was so still the mountain seemed to be holding its breath. Sometimes in cloud and sometimes in sun I made my way along the rocky ridge. Was I on the correct route? In the thick brush and towering rocks it was hard to tell.

Descending along a narrow, rubble strewn path, I stopped at the base of a rocky outcrop. An odd plant was growing on the steeply inclined face, and I climbed up to take a closer look.

The plant looked as if it belonged in the Triassic. Long tentacle-like stalks radiated menacingly from a central spiral of pointed, wedge shaped leaves. The outer leaves of the rosette were wilted and rusty, and the entire plant had the chalky appearance of something that was part alive, and part dead.

I couldn't quite see the structure of the flowers and leaned closer to take a photo. Suddenly...

This is the point in the story where the plant should grab me, or release a puff of toxic dust from its flowers, or do something equally malevolent. Not this time. But I can't think of a more bizarre looking plant than a chalk liveforever on a rocky outcrop in full bloom.

From Sunday's Clouds & Crags trail run.

Some related posts: Chalk Liveforever, Canyon Liveforever

Friday, July 30, 2010 4:08:40 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, July 25, 2010

The clouds are in the Conejo Valley and the crags are a prominent highpoint on the ridge that tops the west face of Boney Mountain. Here's a Google Earth aerial view SSE along the ridge that shows the topography. From the upper cliffs the west face drops over 2000' to the Backbone Trail in Blue Canyon.

Ascending the western ridge, or easier eastern ridge, is an adventurous way to access the Backbone Trail from Wendy Dr. Once over Tri-Peaks and on the Backbone Trail several loop variations are possible. These range from a relatively direct return on the Boney Trail, to lengthy excursions to Serrano Valley or La Jolla Valley.

Today's variation worked out to about 20 miles. Once on the upper section of the Backbone Trail, I followed it west down the Chamberlain, Boney and Blue Canyon trails to the Danielson Multi-use area in Sycamore Canyon. After doing a circuit in Sycamore Canyon I picked up the Upper Sycamore Trail and headed back to Danielson Road, Satwiwa, and the trailhead at Wendy Drive.

Some related posts: Boney Mountain Western Ridge & Loop, Sandstone Peak from Wendy Drive, Boney Mountain North Side Loop

Sunday, July 25, 2010 7:17:07 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Friday, July 23, 2010

Yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus)

Like scarlet monkeyflower, yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) loves springs and seeps. These are at a spring at Sheep Camp, between Mt. Pinos and Mt. Abel.

From Sunday's run on the Vincent Tumamait and North Fork trails in the Chumash Wilderness.

Friday, July 23, 2010 6:58:21 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, July 18, 2010

Paintbrush on the Vincent Tumamait Trail
Paintbrush on the Vincent Tumamait Trail

Thursday afternoon the temperature in Woodland Hills hit 107°F. Friday was 103°F, and Saturday 104°F. Weekdays I run in the afternoon, and after running in that heat, I needed to escape to cooler climes. One way to beat the broiling temps was to head for the high country.

There are several higher elevation areas within a couple hours drive of Los Angeles. My favorites are Mt. Baden-Powell (9399'), Mt. Baldy (10,064'), Mt. Pinos (8831'), Mt. San Jacinto (10,834') and San Gorgonio Mountain (11,499').

Mariposa and paintbrush Today the choice was Mt. Pinos. It had been a few weeks since I'd run there, and the driving time to the Chula Vista parking lot on Mt. Pinos is about the same as that to Islip Saddle in the San Gabriels. Also, it's usually cooler running between Mt. Pinos and Mt. Abel, than between Islip Saddle and Mt. Baden-Powell.

It was a little breezy and chilly up on Mt. Pinos, Sawmill Mountain and Mt. Abel. What a change from during the week. At the start of the run the temperature was about 40-50 degrees cooler than my last run at Ahmanson Ranch.

I did an extended version of the usual 14.5 mile out and back course on the Vincent Tumamait Trail. This variation drops down to Lilly Camp (6600') on the North Fork Trail before continuing to Mt. Abel. The side trip adds about 6 miles and 1700' of gain. It was a bit warmer down at Lilly Meadow Camp, but the air conditioning kicked back in once I returned to the main trail.

Some related posts: Running Hot & Cold, Up & Down Mt. Baldy's South Ridge, Vincent Tumamait Trail, Autumn Trail Running on Mt. San Jacinto, San Gorgonio High Line 2009

Sunday, July 18, 2010 3:26:37 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sugar pine

Its long limbs bending with the weight, a sugar pine reaches as far as it can to drop its heavy, resin-covered cones.

Because of its short needles and long branches, the silhouette of a sugar pine is particularly distinctive.

From Sunday's run on the PCT.

Some related posts: Sugar Pine & Clouds, Kratka Ridge Sugar Pine

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 1:06:01 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Scarlet Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis) at Little Jimmy Spring, in the San Gabriel Mountains.

From Sunday's run on the PCT.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 12:20:18 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pacific Crest Trail Near Mt. Burnham
Pacific Crest Trail Near Mt. Burnham, in the San Gabriel Mountains

At an elevation of 9000' the weather was sensational. Skies were partly cloudy, accentuating the terrain, and hinting of a thunderstorm later in the day. I was on the Pacific Crest Trail between Mt. Burnham and Mt. Baden-Powell, about 8 miles into a 18 mile run in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Remarkably, there was still a small patch of snow along the trail. According to seasonal summaries in Your Guide to Snowfall, the 2009-2010 season in Southern California was the best since the big Winter of 2004-2005. But it wasn't necessary to check the snow history to know the snowfall had been above average. All that was needed was to look around, and the mountains told the story.

The remnants of snow were only part of the tale. Broken and downed trees told of strong Winter winds, and the stalks of red snow plant of a cool Spring. Now springs flowed freely and once dry seeps were damp and green. Wildflowers bloomed in profusion. Squat bumblebees waddled from flower to flower, and hummingbirds darted from patch to patch of scarlet bugler.

It had been a good Winter. Sugar pines were heavy with pine cones, and new growth decorated the limbs of the white firs. The growth of tree seedlings in the Curve Fire burn area seemed to have accelerated, and the protracted process of forest replacement was underway.

Southern California's erratic weather demands that plants and trees be opportunistic. In time they have learned that an El Nino Winter is often followed by one that is dry, and La Nina looms.

Sunday, July 11, 2010 10:23:20 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #   
# Saturday, July 10, 2010

Speckled Clarkia (Clarkia cylindrica ssp. cylindrica) along the Garapito Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains, near Los Angeles.

Because they tend to bloom in late Spring and early Summer, this species of Clarkia and several others are sometimes referred to as Farewell to Spring.

From last Sunday's out and back run to Saddle Peak.

Related post: Elegant Clarkia

Saturday, July 10, 2010 8:35:28 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #