Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Drizzle, Drazzle, Rainy, Muddy 15 Mile Trail Run

Ok, well that was fun.  My goal for today's run was to go long, easy, get some climbing, stick mostly to trails and NOT do an out-n-back.  I started at the very empty Monte Bello Open Space Preserve parking lot off Page Mill Road.  Normally this start point affords a great view of nearby Black Mountain, the San Andreas Fault and points North.  Today it was cloudy with a light fog and drizzle.  At 2200' above sea level this would be the high point of the run.  The plan was to go North on Alpine Rd and find a loop through Palo Alto Foothills Park without running all the way to Arastradero Road (thus making it a 20+ mile run.  I had a rough idea of how to accomplish this but knew it might require a little traipsing onto private land near the low point of Foothills Park.

Equipment List: All Salomon gear - Twin Skin EXO S-Lab Shorts, ActiLight Zip T-shirt, Fast Wing 3 Jacket, Compression socks, SpeedCross 3 trail shoes, light gloves, headband and an XR Energy drink belt.

And we're off......oye, lots of clay in the muddy first mile of trail.  No shoe can resist this clumping of mud in the tread.  Fortunately it's only a mile and I clear the mud at the first road crossing.  The next 2 miles are all downhill on Alpine "Road" which is really just a trail.  Past a few washouts, single-track bypasses and out course the old truck with trees growing out of it:

After passing the gate at the end of Alpine "Road" (trail), Alpine Road (paved) begins.  At this point I need to work my way East and over a ridge covered in residential developments above Portola Valley.  Basically a short-cut to find a way into gated North (service) entrance into Foothills Park from Los Trancos Road.  All paved roads for another 3 miles - up, up, up, down, down, down.  Finally I get to where I'm certain the back entrance is and of course it's gated.  I poke around in the nearby woods but it's thoroughly fenced in - crap.  Ok, so I'm not feeling like jumping fences today.  I continue up a residential road that borders this rich guys compound as it continues towards Foothills Park (except with more vertical climb and descend).  More road, up, up, down down...........and bingo; a fence line with signs reading "Palo Alto Foothills Park Boundary.  Hop the fence, jump on a single-track trail and down into the park.

From here I poke around the park boundary from the inside (near the park maintenance buildings) but again, more "keep out" signs and more fences and heavy brush.  I knew Los Trancos Road was only 200 meters away but I found a decent 1 mile work-around.  Ok, 7 miles in, I'm at the low point of the run, time to climb 1500+ feet back to the car.  Another 3/4 mile of park road and then a steady single-track climb:

Once I got to the top of the ridge I continued on the single-track but it was heading downhill.  Turns out this would have gotten me up to Page Mill Road but only after extra descent, ascent and distance.  I back tracked and continued on the ridge along a dirt fire road.  At this point I'm at 1200' and still need to climb up to 2200'.  About 2 miles later and 500' higher I reach Page Mill Road.  From here I choose to stay on the fire roads and single-track trails than gradually climb the last 500' over 4 miles.  I get back to the car after 2 hours & 14 minutes of running (including stops) and it's still foggy, drizzly and cool.

Good times, good times but pretty much soaked to the bone.  In hindsight, I didn't need the jacket (too warm) but I should have worn a tight fitting EXO top.  I drank a little water but didn't really need it and didn't use the FRS chews but it's good to have this stuff just in case.  Here is my Strava data: