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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 40: Maple Springs to Santiago Peak Out-and-Back

(Before I forget, day 39 of Streaking into the New Year I did run.  I ran a whopping 1.03 miles around my neighborhood in anticipation of my 40’th day running the “streak.”)

I held on tightly to my steering wheel this morning while driving through Santiago Canyon, as the wind wanted to blow my truck across the lanes.  It was still dark when I set out running up Maple Springs for day 40 of Streaking into the New Year.  No reason to fear running trails in the dark today though, as I had some great company: Kelly P., Kurt R., Ed H., and two new running friends, Judi and Matt W.  Our destination:  Santiago Peak

Rarely do I think of a run as a whole.  I break it down.  Otherwise, I’m not sure I could do it.  And at day 40, I must admit, I am fatiguing.

Today’s run consisted of 3 parts going up (and the same on the return).  Part one was the longest, 7.5 miles up Maple Springs Road to “4 Corners.”  Part two was the shortest, about 1.5 miles up the Main Divide to Modjeska Peak for exhilarating views.  Part three was a tough approximate 3 miles to Santiago Peak – the summit of Saddleback Mountains. 

Maple Springs Road:

The Ladies on Maples Springs Road:

The wind continued to blow strongly from the start of our run – even through the dark, protected canyon.  As we climbed higher, exposure increased and that wind did not let up.  It got stronger.  And it blew mostly front on.  Still I enjoyed the strong winds, even though they were cold.  The views were spectacular.  Plus, I came prepared to keep warm.  But I over packed on the water which I suppose is never a bad thing.  However, when you’re as fatigued as I was, running up a mountain with fluids that I would never drink, was not a good thing.  I should have stashed some water for a future run.  What was I thinking?

Nearing “4 Corners” with views of the San Gabriel Mountains:

Though the gate at Maple Springs road was closed, we saw some dirt bikers, even some cars, some cyclists, but no other runners.  We three ladies took up the rear, while the men ran up ahead.  Because I break my runs down I didn’t fret about making it to the top.  (In my heart I longed for the peak though).   Because I didn’t think of this run with as a whole, I felt pretty strong when we finished up Maple Springs, arriving at “Four Corners.”

The wind was FIERCE at “Four Corners.”  Kurt and Matt were waiting when we arrived.  Wearing short sleeves, they were so cold, I believe their teeth were probably chattering.  After some photo ops, they took off while we ladies quickly grabbed things from our pack, etc., and headed up behind them for the next leg, 1.5 miles to Modjeska Peak. 

From Modjeska Peak, Santiago Peak looked a “stone’s throw away.”  Well, not that close.  But a lot closer than it felt running it.  Leg three, the run to Santiago Peak was approximately 3 miles.  And I have to say I ran it nowhere near my best 5k time.  Most of it was uphill, but there was a little downhill in the beginning that I knew would stab at me on the return. 

The wind died down pretty much completely on the third leg.  That is until about 3 minutes in, when someone said (and I won’t say who – LOL), “At least the wind has died down.”  Probably no more than a minute passed before the wind picked up again.  And if I’m not mistaken, it blew even harder just to show us that it was in control – not us! Winking smile

We could see the towers on Santiago Peak for a while, yet we never seemed to get closer.  Finally, we crept up on the peak enough that we couldn’t see the towers anymore.  And then at last.  At. Last!  We turned a corner for a beautiful site:  the towers of Santiago Peak.  Kurt and Matt were wandering around.  Ed had ran onward to Holy Jim so that he could make his run a thirty-miler. 

Group Shot at Santiago Peak (minus Ed): Kelly, Me, Kurt, Matt, Judi:

A motorcyclist took the picture above.  Afterward, he told us an interesting Santiago Peak story.  Not too long ago, he rode up there and took a nap (took a nap!!  I used to do things like that in my youth, but I’m a scaredy-cat now, so that’s a NEVER to me).  Anyway, when he woke, he got on his motorcycle and drove a bit and there before him was a beautiful, golden reddish-brown mountain lion.  He revved his bike and the cat didn’t even change his gait, it just sort of meandered down the road.  Yikes! 

Needless to say, this gentleman (I didn’t catch his name) doesn’t take naps up there anymore. Smile

So, the views were awe-inspiring from Santiago Peak.  We could see the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island, all of Orange County, Long Beach Beach, Los Angeles, and if I’m not mistaken some of the beaches in San Diego County.   But heck!  It was cold and windy up there.  Matt found us a wonderful little refuge – a small spot vacant of the wind.  Of course we all crammed in there after the peak group photo for a snack break.  It was just small spot, but it was cozy and warm.  As soon as I stepped out of it to set up my camera, my hat flew off my head and threatened to fly off the peak.  I walked down just a tad to stomp on it before it flew away further and surprisingly to everyone, saved my cap.

Our Refuge from the Wind:

Heading back to the Main Divide from The Peak:

Good-bye Sweet Towers of Santiago Peak.  Hope to see you again soon!

Well!  I seriously thought it would be easy-going for the return trip.  But we had that slight incline to climb back to Modjeska Peak.  And the rocky Main Divide back to Maple Springs lasted FOREVER.  I was so extremely fatigued that the downhill was a big effort – an effort to keep myself upright and not fall flat on my face.  Still, the run was fun.  I would do it again, any day, even as fatigued as I am/was.  And it’s always such a great pleasure meeting and running with trail runners I haven’t yet had the honor to meet.

When I rolled (it felt like rolled, but it was actually “ran”) on into the trail head, my feet hurt.  We were all fatigued.  But we were smiling.  Smiling wide.

What a glorious, glorious, windy day up a mountain.

Judi and Kelly running down The Main Divide, “4 Corners” bound:

24.56 miles run (39.53 km) – The profile:My Activities Maple springs to Santiago Peak & back 1-28-2012, Elevation - Distance


  1. Wow, way to keep up your streak, girl! Your pictures are always so amazing - I want to go hit a trail every time I read your posts.

  2. Thanks Green Girl. This one was a doozy! But well worth it. :) I love the beauty of nature and the time spent with people in such a strenuous time. There's nothing like it.