Friday, July 31, 2020

Reno to Rose run

We're wandering more than normal recently, kind of "unmoored", enjoying the freedom to decide almost on-the-fly what we want to do.  Go east, toward more mountains?  Sure, why not!  In picking places to stop for the night as we drive, I've gotten into the habit of perusing the routes on the Fastest Known Time website to see where we might pause for an extra day to do some exploring.  Because, why not!

So it was that we've been enjoying a couple days in Reno, a city we haven't really seen before.  There appears to be plenty more to do here - hiking trails, river walk, great restaurants, public art - so we will certainly need to come back.

For now, we made a brief visit downtown so I could start a 20-mile FKT run from the giant arch to the top of Mt Rose.  Jacob Cooper set up this interesting route and I was curious to try it.  There are several places where you can optimize the run by going off-trail; in fact you have to go off-trail once to make this work at all, and ideally several times of varying distance.  Seemed like an interesting challenge and a nice basic introduction to off-trail FKT's.

Two highlights before I started - a quick pop into a casino to use a bathroom (thank you, El Dorado), and a guy walking by who saw John's minion mask and laughed out loud.

John took a picture of me taking a selfie:

Thank you Mr. FKT Support Man!

Another perspective on the giant arch:

And she's off...

John did a little wandering downtown and found these:

Also a wonderful mural that I hadn't noticed we had parked under:

For my part, I wish I had gotten a picture of the large whale, also the art at the museum I ran past.  But I did get one "street art" photo:

Oh hey, it looks like I made it to Mt Rose already!  That was fast...

Actually, it's way up there, barely visible on the left side of the skyline:

Zoomed in view, behind the ridge I was going to be trekking around the back side of:

The path that cuts up to the last neighborhood of the route:

And what the heck is that??  John suggests that it might be a takeoff on the Anne Geddes dolls?

Speaking of John, he met me at the end of the pavement for my one resupply stop.  Coming up the road to meet him:

This route mostly lends itself to running unsupported, except I really didn't want to carry everything 5 miles across town when John didn't mind helping out (plus that gave him the option to meet me at the other end and accompany me over Church Peak if he happened to get up there by the time I arrived, quite optionally).  I took advantage of it by carrying a light vest at the beginning and also did a shoe change before starting up the dirt road.

I carried a lot more weight out of there, all the water I thought I might need, a "just in case" jacket, snacks, etc.  Good thing we've had some backpacking practice lately!

I used the heck out of my phone map (with saved stars for offline use) for the next several hours, way more than I ever have before.  Even if I could have found a good map, the initial maze of dirt roads was a lot easier to navigate using a GPS indicator.  After that I would have prefered a topo map, but since I hadn't taken the time to track one down, the phone would have to do.

The first several miles looked a lot like this:

I enjoyed the views back toward Reno, happy to climb to higher elevations before the day started getting warm.  When I finally got to a spot where I could see the road for a ways, I finally stashed the phone so I could use both hands on my trekking poles.  More climbing, a bit of running here and there.

I climbed straight up a switchback cutoff, one of a couple minor tweaks I made to Jacob's second track.  It went straight up and may or may not have been the most efficient way to go, but I felt like had accomplished something when I got to the top and looked back down:

I saw a covey of quail, they are fun to watch scurry around.

I would love to know the story behind this!  It is nowhere near any semblance of good road:

The 4WD doubletrack has varying degrees of smoothness and amount of rocks.  It was fine for an uphill climb, but it didn't take long for me to vow never to run this as an out-and-back - downhill running on this would be awful.  One of the worst sections of loose rocks:

One of several intersections, this one providing a cut-off from the main road to eliminate some distance (to the right):

Suddenly I was transported to Bandera with the steep rocky uphill haul:

Finally a view of the upcoming ridgeline!  There hadn't been much to see ahead of me up until this point, just occasional views of the lowlands.

Ah, there is water running up here.  I sure should have known that (and would have taken advantage of it), if I had only found the link to Jacob's first run report beforehand (my fault for missing that detail).  It's a little creek running out the far side of the meadow and crossing under the road:

Just a bit further along, another little creek goes under the road.  These 2 spots are the only water sources I found (besides one tiny seep further back), but it sure is better than nothing.  Disclaimer - I couldn't be sure these are always running, but it seems likely that they are.

Well, that rocky road sure goes a long way.  I was happy that it was occasionally runnable, but I was also ready to be done with it.

Picking out a spot to leave the road to climb up to the trail up higher:

Again I would have liked to have a map and compass, but following along on my phone did the job.  It was super easy travel, no underbrush, just an uphill hike through conifers, excellent.

I crossed one faint trail but it was heading downhill, didn't want that.  Then further up I found the real trail and started the long traverse.  It was great being in the woods for quite a while up here.

Not sure why, but I'd been expecting to be above treeline by now.  I also thought I'd see some kind of spire or cinder cone at the next corner, but all I saw was trees.  I cut off some distance by cutting the corner, so perhaps there is something to see that the trail detours for.

Eventually a view, nice!

Some of the many wildflowers:

More view:

Looking back at Sunflower/Snowflower Mountain (various maps call it different things):

I wanted to cut the next corner too (there was a tempting open meadow calling to me), but John and I had discussed how far back he might come if he were hiking the route backward to meet me, and I had not mentioned anything about going off the trail here.  I really didn't want to miss him in this section and send him way back on the traverse I'd just completed.  So I stayed on the trail, which rewarded me with a couple views, so that's something.

Also a nice look at Church Peak and Mt. Rose as I came around the corner, OK, they look rather tall:

It's easy to see the terrain and the choices ahead, also to pick out a decent spot to leave the trail and strike out cross-country.  The traverse under one hill was a tad tedious but not far (and worth not climbing over the top of the hill):

View from the saddle looking up at the rather-imposing (to me) Church Peak.  Specifically, the rocks near the top seemed like they might be challenging?  I know better than to make definitive judgments from down low, but I was kind of hoping to see a husband pop over the top and run down toward me to help figure it out:

A photo of downtown Reno where I had started (nope, not stalling...):

OK then, I better start up this thing.  There was plenty of solid ground, not too much loose dirt or rocks to deal with, and not an overabundance of talus, so it was more about picking my way and managing my exertion level.

Still, I wasn't enthused about what I could see above me, as evidenced by this face:

Each little section went fine, then I'd take a brief break and study the next bit.

Here's my "so far, so good!" face:

And in the end, I encountered no problems at all.  There were easy paths through the rocks all the way to the top.  Definitely much easier than it looked.  Yay!  I was rather pleased with myself.

Just one more thing to do - get down the ridge on the other side so I could find the trail to the top of Mt Rose:

That part seemed easy, except I kept running into little drop-offs that managed to surprise me every time (and always had a path down):

Husband ahead!  John hiked toward me and got this picture:

I told him he might want to see the fun rock scrambling on the ridge to Church, so he continued in that direction, but first snapped a picture of me heading for Mt Rose:

Easy saddle crossing, then on the summit trail - with a view of Lake Tahoe, excellent:

The first "top of the mountain" seemed like it might be the summit?  My phone map was unclear, and the second peak had a bunch of rocks stacked as windbreaks (with people hanging out there), so I decided to hit both "tops" just to be sure.  Would hate to miss the actual end point after going this far.

I stopped my watch at the second maximum, which now looks like a slight overshoot - looking back at the real summit, it's clear that's the top:

Either way, I made it!  :)

What a nice place to be, way up high in the cool breeze.  I hung out briefly and then started back down the trail to find John (and hike the 5 miles down to the truck):

Thank you FKT buddy!

I enjoyed that one a lot, and I like coming away with a couple ideas for optimizing the route (plus I could run it faster by knowing better where to go).  Might have to do that someday...

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Bay to Um FKT

A newly conceived - and run - FKT!  It's actually something I've thought about for a couple years, and even trekked a less-than-ideal version once.  It seems like the right time to put San Jose on the FKT map, with a route from the Bay to the top of Mount Umunhum (or Mount Um):

The fun part (at least in my opinion) is being able to see the huge radio tower cube at the start of the journey and in many places along the way.  I also like routes with variety, and this one goes from paved bike path to city streets to dirt trails climbing the mountain.  It's flat for a long way and then hilly for a long way.  And the distance (32.5 miles) is a nice day's effort.

I started out yesterday at the gate to Alviso Marina County Park.  The park proper doesn't open until 8 am, no particular reason to wait until then to get going.  John dropped me off on Hope Street so I could walk the short distance to the gate and take a couple pictures:

Views of the water and marshes of the bay nearby:

I started the watch and ran south.  But stopped after a few steps when I realized that Mount Um really is visible from this far away.  Maybe not in this picture...

...but with a little zoom, at least the mountain "bump" can be seen on the horizon (it's more clear in person).  "Um Spotting" would be the theme of the day.

Cute little boats in the slough along the path:

Lovely trees along Guadalupe River, and I'm pretty sure I could see Um from here but again it's quite far for my little camera to resolve:

Hands by the airport, hi there!  And it occurs to me that there is hardly any traffic on this road for once:

A bit of the airport, Um in the distance:

Mile marker along the Guadalupe trail:

Interesting airplane-related sculpture:

Taylor Street to cut west (and again passing near a Trader Joe's during an FKT, but still not stopping!):

The Alameda, a nice tree-lined boulevard:

I didn't take the time to check out the art in the underpass, but I did get a glimpse of my favorite astropug (Milo) in the stairwell:

Goofy-cycle (and pay no attention to the snot under my nose; come to think of it, it's kind of hard to believe I don't look like that in more of my selfies):

They couldn't drag me away...


Going south on Race Street, with a direct view of Mount Um in the distance (miles closer but not yet clearer):

Ah, there it is, finally an outline of the cube (even if it is a zoomed photo).  I'm somewhere on the long, long Meridian Avenue that extends most of the way to the trailhead.  There's a little bit of navigation in this route, but really not a whole lot.

Hey, it's the Guadalupe again, this time as a creek instead of a river!  I started wondering just how many times I might see the same bit of water.

I enjoyed the shady sections of streets, running down the left-hand sidewalk to minimize sun exposure.  None of the paved parts felt remotely warm to me.

Look, an Um!

I'd stopped at Bagel Guys for a drink, a bagel, and a bathroom break (thank you Bagel Guys!).  One last resupply mission before the long dry trails of Almaden - the Lucky grocery store.  I tried to be quick with my aisle wandering but still took longer than I perhaps could have.  At least I came out of there with 50+ ounces of liquid to carry (and that was still just barely enough).

One turn up McAbee toward the trailhead, and what do you know, a view of Mount Um:

Lots of people out enjoying this beautiful Friday morning on the trails:

Lovely trees to start the trails:

The trees didn't last, and then it was out onto the open grasslands and a climb up to the ridge following Mine Hill Road for quite a ways:

Um... (no zoom this time!)

Hey, that's called Guadalupe Reservoir.  I'm not sure I've ever connected it to the river that runs near my brother's house.  So there's another neat thing about this route, that it starts near the end of the Guadalupe and finishes near the beginning.

San Jose in the distance:

Castillero Trail briefly, then the Wood Road Trail toward, you guessed it, Mount Um (and signs for the Bay Area Ridge Trail, always fun to ponder):

A bit of downhill, one road crossing, a bathroom opportunity, and then the appropriately shady Woods Trail.  I was well familiar with this one from multiple training and racing days on the ins/outs/ups/downs of this road.  With an occasional view of the now-familiar cube on the mountain:

Another section of the Guadalupe Creek, now high above the reservoir and quite dry at the moment:

Getting closer...

Ooof, so the next section (Barlow Road) was a bit rough.  Steep climbing, lots of sunshine, rocks, no particular obvious care in making this a trail you wanted to be on.  A related FKT up the mountain and back (from Woods Trail trailhead) uses this route, and I'm in awe of the sub-2 hour round-trip time Jose posted.

Well, now I'm warm.

Finally I reached the last trail, the much nicer (and shaded) switchbacks from the middle parking lot to the top.  With a mostly-gentle grade I was able to run some of it, starting a push to the finish.  It wasn't going to be a blazing fast time today, but at least I could end reasonably strong.

The other, less-obvious, radio tower:

Yay for this trail:

Mile markers going up, and now my legs are getting tired...

Almost there - and hey, the gate is open!  This little trail around to the right used to be closed, and I don't believe I've been on it before.  Well, I can't pass that up.  Anyone else running this route, feel free to use the road or the top stairs & trail, I just felt like going this way around the bottom today:

Nice stairs:

Fun cairns:

John was waiting nearby, capturing a photo with a tiny version of me and a big version of the cube (reverse of all my photos):

Like Jose, I decided that the covered Information Hut was a good place to call the "top":

So John, what do you think?  "Um..."

Thank you for coming all this way to get me, Masked Minion Man!

See, this is the cube I've been telling you about...

It does have a great view of the valley all the way to the Bay:

Live long, prosper, and keep having fun with FKT's!