Sunshine, healthy food, mountains…It’s hard not to like California.
I have just come back from a work trip to Los Angeles and I’m once again smitten by this beautiful part of the world. To be honest, downtown LA does very little for me, but the coastline and mountains surrounding the city fill me with smiles.
Due to the way my travel plans worked out, I was lucky to get a day at either end of my trip where I had the opportunity to head out onto the trails. After arriving late on a Saturday night and staying at a hotel in LA, I’d already planned my Sunday morning. In the Santa Monica mountains, there is the Trail Runners Club who meet Saturday and Sunday mornings, this particular Sunday they had a scheduled club run along the same Mandeville Canyon ridgeline I ran a couple of years ago when I visited LA. As well as a phenomenal trail run, the weekend I was there they had Mira Rai from the Salomon team visiting too, so I got to meet the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year!
The run was just wonderful, it was the perfect antidote to my 8 hour jet lag. They have had a whole load of rain this winter in LA, but for the days I was up there in those mountains, the sun shone and it felt amazing to be running in warm conditions again.
The trail runners club were an incredibly friendly bunch and if you are ever in the Santa Monica\LA area, I can highly recommend taking the time to meet up with them for a run. They are a fun bunch and have some incredible trails on their doorstep. The run was pretty tough, a 19km ridge with loads of single track heaven and over 700m of up and down. Perfect start to the trip.
The next morning, due to a combination of jet lag being on my side and meetings not starting until later in the day, I plotted a run in the San Gabriel mountains, picking up a 10km stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This icnonic long distance route trails all the way up the west coast of America and covers some incredible territory. The stretch I had started at about 1000m elevation and climbed gradually over 10km to 1700m. The area it cuts through was a burn zone and the whole place was a barren, charred landscape. There was some evidence of new growth starting to emerge, but on the whole it was a lonely feeling place.
After this, I had five days of work where the best I could hope for was some hard pavements looping around the convention center where I was based. Before I took my flight hom though, I had an afternoon spare and didn’t hesitate to jump in the car and head back to the Santa Monica mountains with a guy I’d met in the previous Sunday run with the club. Bizarrely, the worst rain storm for decades blew through the area at exactly the point when we were heading out onto the trails from Will Rogers park up the backbone ridge trail. It was so torrential I didn’t both to even try to take my phone with me, so no pictures sadly. I can say though that it was another incredible trail to run and I felt very envious of those people who have it on their doorstep.
It was a great week, not just because of the great running opportunity I had. It did feel good though getting in a couple of long runs in some big countryside. I felt like my running was coming back and much more relaxed as a consequence.