|This is a mile off the race course on Mt Williamson 50 miles back, but it's important.|
The Last 26 Miles
This section is a lover who’ll rake your back, fuck you so hard that you’d stay fucked, then ignore your calls. A standout in a Race that’s pretty much the same way. Its harsh, demanding, and indifferent to your esthetic preferences. You learn to love it on its own terms.
Getting nervous? Wonderful. You’re looking at a legacy original mountain hundred, not a “backyard cheese-ball loop 100”, as Luis Escobar so eloquently described it.
Spoiler alertI got my ass kicked. Its become the pattern for the summer: race, ass-kick recovery run.
Minutes after the start from Chantry Flats, I’m practically by myself, Jeanne is seeing this part of the course for the first time. Now I get to find out how much I really remember of the course. The ribbons start coming down.
Today, we’re lucky. Uncle Hal and friends are hosting an aid station at the 94 mile mark, 18 on today’s outing. This is huge. Otherwise its *maybe* finding water from a hose in Millard Cyn. Or pumping from an open stream, provided its not all Holistic Aztec Pond Scum. Or detouring 2 miles at the top of the Toll Road/Manzanita Bypass to get water from the tap at Mt Wilson.
We just have to get there. Cresting to Mt Wilson Toll Road. This is the last giveaway section of the race, down to the Idle Hour aid station at 83mi. Then it goes back into single track, down into Idle Hour Canyon. We pass visible remnants of the Last Golden Age—stone masonry trail work. Its a marvel in this penurious imperial era.
Idle Hour is quiet and a relict time capsule of that era. No water in the main creek. You can pump it from less obvious sources, but the drought has choked back the flow.
We start to climb out. I’m describing the Three Phases of Idle Hour up to Sam Merrill; the first ascent up to the drainage limits, the desert yucca switchbacks up to the ridges into the canyon oaks, then the final runs up to Sam Merrill/Mt Lowe Road junction.
At the Sam Merrill/Mt Lowe/Idle Hour trail junction, its a quiet pause in the shade. I’m wishing I’d brought another bottle. Suck down a GU, drink water, and hear the blood in my head. And its not even really hot yet. Its just that serious.
The Voodoo Section awaits. Exposed, technical, and unforgiving. No chatter from me here. All I’m thinking about is picking up my feet and paying attention. I catch a foot 3 times, each a warning. Passing over the wrecked nondescript section where I laid in the dirt after breaking my wrist three months earlier was uneventful. Got down to the Grandma Freeway section of the Echo Mtn/Lake Ave trail junction, turned up to the Cape of Good Hope/Mt Lowe Rd junction, jogging on the remains of the rail-bed.
Aid is in sight. I’m wiped. For Howie, who’d started and finished with two hand-helds, I’m envious. I'd shuffled out of Chantry w 3x28 and a 20 in the asspack. Thanks to Uncle Hal's Echo Mtn Rest Stop For Weary Runners, I was saved from perdition w/ a fast quart of Gatorade, ice, and Mountin' Dew.
Stopped again in el Prieto at that picnic table about a mile up from the Brown Mtn junction. I coulda homesteaded there, no problem. Had forgotten to fill one of the 28oz bottles. We ground out the last 3 miles, walked it up from the JPL turnoff to the finish at Alta Loma Park, Altadena.
Another 8 hr day.
CONCLUSIONI'd forgotten all the other content between the highlights. All of it. This is a very dark section, in addition to the other dark section between Islip and Chilao [25-52]. Now my memory is being expanded. Seeing, then describing the course, can help somebody internalize the information, in a way that an impersonal GPS cannot.
All this reminded me how much more I need to work.