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!

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