July 18, 2005 - Phil Hodgen

OT-Back Country of the San Gabriels

I went out last Sunday and did the first loop of the Mt. Disappointment 50K: from the top of Mt. Wilson, down the road to Eaton Saddle, up the trail to the left (and through a neat tunnel) to Mt. Disappointment, thence down to Red Box. Take Red Box Road to West Fork Trail Camp.

At that point I wanted to detour to Devore Trail Camp by trail then return to West Fork via the Red Box Road. This would add 4 miles or so to the day. But the trail from West Fork to Devore quickly evaporated — with each river crossing it became more and more indistinct. So I turned around.

Damn near stepped on a rattlesnake at the last river crossing as I was busy looking at the river and trying to select the right boulders to jump. My foot was 15 inches in front of its face. My leg was all running shoe and itty bitty running sock, flavored by dirt and blood (yes, I took an obligatory header running downhill earlier in the day). Nice appetizer for a rattlesnake. Fortunately the day was still early and cool, so the rattlesnake didn’t react. It was probably stunned by my Loud Bellow of Genuine Alarm. Or it was deaf. Never mind. It scared the hell out of me. This was a real Mortality Moment.

I haven’t told my wife about this, of course. 🙂

UPDATE: Told her.

LATER UPDATE: She bought me a snakebite kit.

Back to West Fork, then up the Kenyon Devore Trail to Mt. Wilson, where I had to wait for my wife because I had locked my keys in the trunk of my car.

It was hot. I did about 15.5 miles, drank maybe 1 1/2 gallons of water and was still parched at the top of Mt. Wilson. Against my better judgment I refueled my water bottles from a creek (can you spell giardiasis?). I’m glad I did (or should I say my happiness is tempered by the fact that I am currently in the incubation period for a giardia infection?). I would have had 2 + miles straight up without water otherwise.

Memo to self. I have to do less of this long distance solo venturing, especially out in the woop-woop. Major trails maybe are OK for solo runs. If I had been bitten I would have been in very bad shape indeed — 5 miles uphill to Red Box or 3.5 miles uphill to Mt. Wilson, and nary a soul to be seen.

Family commitments permitting, I’m going to do the Mt. Disappointment 50K training run this weekend (at least, I’ll do the loop from Red Box to Clear Creek then around via Josephine Saddle back to Red Box).

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve gone out and done in the range of 15 miles and absolutely bonked each time. No way I could do 50K on any one of those days. I suspect I am not trained up to the level of sane runner in the Mt. Disappointment 50K and may have to convert to volunteer. We’ll see.