Sunday, December 18, 2011

Running in the Dark

Week Summary

Carson River 6: 6.0 mi (+23 ft); 8:20 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.7 mi (+480 ft); 10:28 pace
Goni Trails East: 6.4 mi (+1,067 ft); 9:45 pace
49 Palms Oasis OB (CA): 12.0 mi (+1,549 ft); 10:55 pace

Weekly Totals: 30.1 mi (+3,124 ft); 5:01:50 on trail

With the end of the year, not to mention something called Christmas, speeding up on us, we've been struggling to keep an even keel while closing year-end work, practicing hours of equine medicine on the stubborn oldster Coach, and traveling south for some fieldwork. Dez worked with her vet on Coach all weekend, and more, trying to get a digestive problem solved and get the grey Arab feeling better.  He may have turned a corner for the better, but she's watching him closely. I don't think Strider has offered to donate any organs to help his senior stable-mate out. Dez has worked hard trying to keep things in order and the care up to the minute, as it needs to be right now.

As we tumbled to the weekend, I was keeping my week-day routine in good order. It's been cold, but not low enough to make any run uncomfortable. My problem was planning for my evening runs. It would have been a week without much comment, other than feeling good and doing some pretty good paces; and feeling comfortable in my new La Sportiva Cross-lites (prepping them for some snow, hopefully sometime soon).  But late Wednesday afternoon I paced out along my usual Emma Quarry trail and realized it would soon be dark. I felt good and needed to clear the shadows of the day, so I kept going. Barely past the first mile I hit the single-track and knew it was going to be slow-going. Good practice but I had to "watch" my footing, not that I could really see much of anything. I walked several of my usual fast stretches along Rocky Road and only felt a little frustrated that I would probably be over an hour on this usually quick route. Running along the tight tracks through the pinyon makes one pay close attention and perks up the senses, and it can get a little spooky watching the dark shapes on the trail turn into small trees or having the brush grab your ankles. Note to self: after 4 PM, grab the headlamp.

A few of the forty-nine (the camera sees light I  could not)
I forgot my note.  In Twentynine Palms, California, for the weekend for some fieldwork.  Started Saturday very early and returned to the hotel with enough light to get started toward 49 Palms Oasis (I guess they like to count palm trees around here).  My route took me along the main highway between Twentynine Palms and Joshua Tree for a couple miles before turning up Canyon Road toward a day-use trail in Joshua Tree National Park -- I had scouted out the possibilities prior to flying down. I hit the trailhead in a steady mist and fading light. But the climbing trail through the granite boulders looked great and I kept going.  The trail climbs steeply through a series of build steps and switchbacks before dropping into an adjacent canyon with the oasis. It was a bit too dark to explore the palms and ferns. Even in the dark the contrast of the green and the white grussy granite was fascinating.  I didn't linger. With the rain increasing, I climbed out of the canyon and back to the trailhead. (The 49 Palms Oasis Trail is 3 miles round trip, with something like 650 feet of total elevation gain).

It was completely dark by the time I made it back to the pavement and began the long descent to town. The run down the highway was miserable due to the on-coming traffic blinding me to a crawl. I ran along a dirt track several feet off the highway but the cars would flash by, ruining my night-vision and droning out any silence that followed me from the trail. I was happy to seek refuge in my hotel room, but just as happy that I had kept going and reached the palms (I forgot to count them) of the oasis.

Missed my usual Sunday trail due to all-day travel to get home. It was dark enough when arrived at VC to keep me from trying again. The headlamp has always been safely with me, stored in my bag. I have to remember to take it.

1 comment:

  1. What is this stuff you call rain? As alien as palm trees around here!

    Night running in the rain with oncoming traffic; I know what I'm getting you for Christmas.