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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bommer Canyon – Wilderness Access Day

Six runners from my trail running group met bright and early for access into a normally closed preserve in Bommer Canyon. Even at 7:00 AM the sun bared down, while I signed in and clipped the day pass to my belt. Hikers and bikers, and our group of runners hit trails still somewhat shaded by the cliff’s edges. Right away, we made for the ridge, climbing, climbing, climbing out of the shade along East Fork out into the sun.

So alluring, a hearty welcome to this preserved canyon
Notice all that SHADE at the parking lot!
Victoria, Anna, Me, Tom, Kelly, Sheila

What a relief to make Hogback Ridge. I felt good, and was careful to drink from the camelback regularly. It was dang hot! We did some more climbing, ran Serrano Ridge along low-lying shrubs and cacti. A docent greeted us at one point, offered water, granola. We were a glad group, not in need of much water, still feeling strong. We descended down Shady Oaks (which wasn’t shady at all!) then made our way up Fox Run – a narrow single track, with a huge, tough, extremely tough grade, plenty of loose dirt and rocks. Somewhere on the way to Little Sycamore, we met another docent. I said, “Hey, he looks familiar,” when my group laughed and said, “he’s the same guy we saw back there!”

A quick stop to check the map

Who could tell that it would be so dang hot ?
Downhill at last -- love those descents

Flying through the brush

A pose just before the descent on Little Sycamore

Little Sycamore was a down hill blast, single track, with some treacherous rock work here and there. I was really feeling the heat by this point. So were the some of the others. One of the ladies was suffering, it seemed, more than the rest of us, as we made our way to the bottom.What a relief it was to make Nix Nature Center. We stopped for bathrooms and the water fountain. Wanting to conserve my camelback, I guzzled down at the fountain. Then after resting up we hit the dirt again for another series of steep climbs: Stagecoach South, Camarillo Canyon. Both offered very little shade. Cicadas buzzed in the brush, as the heat began to really take its toll on a couple of runners. Then on the nasty climb, beneath the sizzling sun, the group split. I told Tom that I’d wait for them at Ridge Route, because I wanted to run back the long way to get in my mileage, and I was off with two of the ladies who had to get back for prior engagements.

I do believe that's a bit a shade behind that sign!!

And then my water ran out! Okay, I already told Tom that I’d meet them at Ridge Route, but with no water, it wasn’t wise for me to take the long way. Docent! I needed a docent. I asked Victoria for her map to study on a few occassions, because I knew that we’d be departing soon (why did I leave my map at the car???) And then, up ahead on the ridge, I saw a police truck, a wonderful, wonderful police truck. I ran up, a crowd of hikers mingling about, and asked if he had water. Sure enough, he did, and I poured a bottle into my camelback. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I told him about our other three runners, and asked if he could drive one of them down if needed (dehydration is not something to mess around with). He didn’t seem too concerned, and answered that if the person was really bad off, he could take them down. I kinda thought that was odd. My feeling was that he would head along the ridge and see if anyone needed help. But it seemed he enjoyed the company of the hikers too much to stop chatting and take off.

Well, soon after, I departed from my running partners. Actually, they departed from me, taking a shorter, steeper way down. And I waited on alone the ridge, not a stitch of shade to be found, for the remainder of my group. I took the water bag out of my camelback to release the air (so that water sloshing wouldn’t irritate my ears). And, oh man! I only had a small amount of water left. Sweating like I was, it wasn’t going to last. No, I too might be in trouble.

And then an angel appeared. He rode a bike, and with the helmet on and the glare of the sun, I probably wouldn’t recognize this docent if I ever met him again. “Is everything ok?” he asked. “Yah,” told him, “just trying to get the air out of my bag.”

“Do you need some more water?” And then he commenced to fill up my camelback. He even let the air out. Wonderful, wonderful man. I told him about the three behind me, and about the lady in our group who was suffering some, and he headed off to deliver her some calories! An angel indeed!

Angel on a bike

As he rode off, I walked in that direction too, hoping to meet up with them. When sure enough, I saw my group, minus one. Thankfully, the policeman had driven down our runner most affected by this extreme heat. The angel docent refilled both Tom and the other lady from the group that I had just met this morning, and we headed back for the finish. We ran it in all the way back to the road. Tom ran all the way back to the check-in tent, like he was ready for another loop! We were offered water, and we took plenty of it. The volunteers commented on what a great job we did – “that would have been tough on a bike,” one of them said. We met up with our other runner who was resting in the policeman’s air-conditioned car. She looked so much better than I last saw her. I was glad to see.

I iced my hip and guzzled down two ice cold waters in my car on the way home. I continued hydrating at home, ate broccoli and rice, then a green salad. I bathed, changed and then crashed, I mean CRASHED. I cannot express how drained I felt. I lay on the couch for a couple of hours, and when I did get up, I lumbered. But I had chores to do, I didn’t have time for this! Oh yes I did. Finally, I got in at least an hour of sleep. Then after a spaghetti dinner, I began to climb, oh so slightly, out of the hole.

Today’s run wiped me out.I think Bommer Canyon is best for a winter run. (But I'm already happy that I did today's run -- a huge challenge met).

Miles logged today: 11.5
Total elevation gain: 2,400 feet

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