Alpine start, Cactus to Clouds, Skyline Trail

I am planning to do the Cactus to Clouds hike up to San Jacinto and back

Cactus to Clouds elevation profile
Cactus to Clouds elevation profile

with a loaded pack.  Even though the tire training has gotten to go pretty well, I want to keep the training load up as much as possible.

One thing about this trail.  It’s got some of the largest vertical relief in the country and made Backpacker’s Top 10 toughest day hikes in the country.  They did leave off the Rim-Rim-Rim hike in Grand Canyon, though.  At 49 miles, that’s right up there.

As long as I’m not repelled by the storm that’s supposed to be brewing in southern California, I’m planning to hike from the Desert Museum to the top of San Jacinto.  It promises to be a 34 mile round trip hike.  The last time I attempted this, I only made it to the tram.  I got a city-slicker start at 8am and paid dearly in the desert heat.

Now, I’m not too worried about the heat.  Instead, I’ll be bringing crampons, ice axe and snow shoes on this trip.  The last mile up to the shelf by the tram is extremely steep, nearly 1,700 feet per mile.  When that area ices over, it’s very dangerous.  I’ve heard of other hikers perishing.  As was, when I was hiking through after a rain shower, the mud was rather slick and it made the experience memorable.

Biking in Temecula

Bicycling in Temecula is a bit different than San Diego. Most of the days,

Riding in Temecula
Riding out at the wineries

there is a slight mist that hangs over the valley. Part of it is the smog that is trapped by the hills. The other part is actually an Asian-like mist that is always there.

According to the American Indian history of the area, the name Temecula originates from this mist. Whether it’s true or not, well, that’s up to the historians.

But, when that mist burns off, you start to roast. My photo from the middle of September 2011 shows I’m happy and cooking.


Still on this side

My legs and cardio are still on what I call this side of the Rubicon.  The Roman reference is very loose but it works for where I want to be.  Once you hit a certain level of being able to do something, you don’t want to slip back and have to repeat the grueling part just to get back where you were.

That’s no fun.

What is fun is staying at that new level and trying to push past it.  Without getting hurt, that is.

This morning’s tire towing session was excellent after having a sniffle on Sunday and Monday.  It was 50 degrees out and I was sweating up a storm in shorts and t-shirt.  That’s a good workout morning.

Back in business

After a week of full down-time, I’m back in business!  My right foot didn’t hurt at all towing the tire on back-to-back days.  Woo hoo!

This means I’ll have to be a little more careful about stacking days on the running/towing/riding bundle.  Since towing is still quite difficult and I don’t expect that to change, a long tow will have to be all that happens in any particular day.

There is still the matter of the Tour de Julian this weekend.  As my number showed up, I’m paid and ready to go.  Perhaps I’ll have to stop and do it anyway and just take it easy the whole way.  As I’ve not ridden in nearly a week, it may not be prudent.  But, I’ve done several tough spin sessions with narry a trouble.  If I’m able to pack it in, I’ll hit up a couple Tamarack hill runs to see how things feel.

Biding my time

After last weekend’s assault on the body, I’ve been taking several days off to let things heal

Foot xray
Foot xray

up and not be sore.  As much as I like pushing it, “pushing” though the pain is usually the best way to get really hurt.  It seems like the manly thing to do but that man ends up seeing a doctor.

As it was, I went to visit the doc to make nothing was seriously wrong with my foot.  My biggest concern was a break or crack.  The soy milk and leafy greens diet has still paid off – nothing significant injured!

So, it’s just a few days off, some ice and then heat.  It’s the standard stuff.  One thing I’m making sure to do is alphabets with both ankles.  The technique to use is pretend you have a pencil held with your toes.  Now pretend to scratch out the entire alphabet with your foot.  As big as you can make it.

You will be amazed how quick your ankle and foot will tire from this activity.  It’s that and doing the towel scrunches.

Achieved overtraining

Finally! I’ve achieved overtraining. It’s not really a positive accomplishment in the regimen but it tells me where the absolute limit is.
My foot is hurting a bit after doing a 3 hour tow on Saturday and then a 9 mile run on Sunday. About 1/3 of the way through the run, my foot started hurting a little bit. It wasn’t incapacitating but it was noticeable. I can still feel it today.
A little visit to the doctor confirmed that nothing was broken – a far greater worry!
This experience tells me that when my muscles are very sore from a tough training session, I’m going to have to lay off for a day or two until things calm down a bit. As it is, another muscle that’s never bothered me before is still quite sore.
Ramping up for the run to Yellowstone is going to be quite a challenge. Staying injury-free is the most important thing, as if I’m hurt, nothing happens and another year passes.

Better feeling big drag

Saturday was a long tire drag day, a full 5 miles.  It’s nothing like the 15-20 I’ll need to be

Trash for workout gear
Trash for workout gear

doing in the winter.  It’s something you have to work up to.  After doing the assault ride 2 weeks ago, this tire drag was much easier!

Now I was able to do some filming that I’m editing now and will be done with shortly.  That filming really slowed me down, though.  The time it takes to do the filming to support the expedition and activity is a problem.  If my tow times have to improve dramatically only to be slowed down by filming, I’m going to have a tough go at it.

Dragging the tire along in the beating sun is a slight help because it puts me under strain.  That’s the only way to make this a little more difficult in southern California.  Towing along El Camino Real gives a good simulation of the irritation of constant wind.  Cars blowing by isn’t the same but it has the same irritation level.  Strange how they don’t bother me as much when riding.

Adding a dimension

I added a dimension to the basic tire dragging route.  My backpack came along with me for

Arcteryx Pack
Arcteryx Pack for extra load

the drag.  Having that pack added a ton of load to my hips, making it feel as though I hadn’t backpacked in years.  In a way, it was funny to feel that load again.  It reminded me of my old Boy Scout backpacking days when we carried 50 pound packs.  And I only weighed 120 pounds.

Now I can carry that load and not feel like my spine is compressed to a fixed bone column.  My technique and equipment is much better, making it much more liveable.  But, the only reason I’m carrying that pack weight is when I’m in Greenland fully contained in winter conditions.  Otherwise the pack base weight (no food or water) is around 12 pounds.

Beats the 40 we used to carry.

Getting the right capture equipment

Finding the right video camera to capture this year’s training trip has been a production. As much as I like running around with my Nikon D300s, it’s just not practical for expedition filming. It’s great for dual-capture for video when you have time to set things up but definitely not when you have to run-and-gun as the saying goes.
Right now the two main contenders are:
Canon Vixia G10
Canon XA10
Both are based on the same body but the XA10 has additional microphone abilities.