Thursday, January 3, 2013

Last run of the year/first run of the year: San Gabriel Mountains and the Rose Bowl Parade

San Gabriel Mountains

On the descent from Mount Wilson, with Los Angeles in the distance.
  For my last run of the year I made it to the last section of the Angeles Crest 100 course that runs through the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles. Jeremy, my brother-in-law, lives in the shadows of these mountains in Pasadena. Usually I associate LA with 8 lane freeways and 14 dollar movie tickets, but a short jaunt into the mountains reveals a network of well-maintained and scenic trails. My dad dropped us off at Chantry Flats, which is about 15 minutes up into the mountains off the 210. The trail is rolling single-track for the first few miles as it follows a ridge line before it begins the long climb up to Mount Wilson. As we climbed the endless switchbacks the snow became heavier. LA really does have it all. After nearing the summit we followed the course down a snow-covered two-track dubbed the Mt. Wilson "Toll road." We descended for a couple miles --back into the sun and heat-- and then linked up with another serpentine single track which took us briefly up and then down into the wooded Idle Hour Canyon. For the next couple of hours we would see no one as we ran (and hiked) the rolling climb up to Sam Merrill trail and then finally down to the popular Echo Mountain. At this point we departed from the A.C. 100 course as there were New Year's eve preparations to be taken care of, and we headed down a steep switched-backed descent down to the end of Lake Avenue in Altadena. Warning: avoid this section (or run it earlier in the day) if possible as there are loads of hikers on this trail. We had originally planned to just jog the last 3.5 miles to his house, but after four hours of climbing (6,000 feet) and almost as much descent over 18 miles, our quads were shot and the prospect of pavement running after all that incredible trail wasn't so appealing either. The run is beautiful, and even more striking considering it's close proximity to Los Angeles. An incredible run that makes me want to run the AC 100 in 2014 (already sold out for the August 3 running in 2013.) This run was a good training run for the Ray Miller 50k coming up in February. I'll be back out here for that race as well as the Surf City Half Marathon the following day. 

Here's the garmin data
Descending to Echo Mountain we finally emerged from the woods to some spectacular views of the city.
Snowy trails melting in the sun
On the "hot" side of the mountain

 The following morning we ran with Jeremy's friend Craig down to the Rose Bowl parade route as is their annual tradition. Not as stunning as the previous day's run, but plenty of unusual sights as we ran the parade route just before the start of the parade. Folks have been up all night reserving their seats and people are milling about everywhere and it takes on a sort of circus atmosphere.

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