It's that time of year again when I start obsessing about my various outdoor goals for the year. I've already gone under the knife once for running-related injuries and I still have occasional hip tendonitis, but I enjoy grueling hill climbs and technical downhills. Naturally my thoughts turn to racing again. Having a bunch of very encouraging ultrarunner friends doesn't help. My thought train is somewhat along the lines of: Maybe I could just do 50Ks, but I used to do 50Ks as training runs. I could probably do an occasional 50M. It's training for AC100 that did me in. Or, I could the low mileage plan. It's a slippery slope.
At any rate I promised myself I wouldn't jeopardize my climbing pursuits by trashing myself running, so to kick off my new plan (and last few days of occupational free agent status) I decided to do a "short" run in the San Gabriels. Jascha and I had tried to do this ~14 mile loop (with at least 3700' of gain) before but got rained out. The run/hike starts and ends at Lake Avenue in Pasadena and follows Sam Merrill trail up and over Echo Mtn. to Mt. Lowe, which once housed a tramway. I've been on middle Sam Merrill several times previously, as it's part of the AC100 course, and it's one of my favorite local trails. Unfortunately, Jascha couldn't join me this time because of work and affliction with an intestinal flu, which we will blame on Pez & Pezlet Hansen ;), who were both recovering from the flu during our Sunday visit.
I made good time on lower Sam Merrill, despite getting passed by 2 guys who were running to Echo Mtn. and back. The skies were clear and sparkling blue and I recognized the tree under which we huddled during the downpour and the spot where we'd previously turned around on middle Sam Merrill. It was a bit chilly in the forested section (one of my favorites) that passes several granite outcroppings. I wondered if part of the reason I like this section is that it marks the end of the climb out of Idlehour on the AC100 course that seems to go on forever, known by some as the longest 3 miles you'll ever do. At the junction with the Mt. Lowe I stopped to assist a guy (with a topo map) who mistakenly thought he was at Markham Saddle, then headed over the the Mt. Lowe loop.
I took the E trail first and passed several patches of trail that were dusted with snow. The top of Mt. Lowe has some remnants of the old railway, including a collection of peak location aids. I could clearly see Mt. Baldy in the background. On the 7 mile descent I took the W trail to complete my loop. It was a fun downhill with some rocky sections. I backtracked on Sam Merrill (a most excellent descent) to Lake. I look forward to many repeats.