The Three Dimensions Of Shade

Beef chili in Saltillo ware, with wine-on-ice in stainless. Prompted by remembering the long camera-takes of Lee Van Cleef in "Good, Bad & Ugly".

"A man alone with his thoughts lives in a crowded house"

—Don Juan Castaneda, "Conversations With Maestro Sevende Sandia"

There is no cell reception in the San Gabriels. I was unwired for three days. $36, cost of a campsite at Chilao. But I'll charge hipsters $450 ea for the weekend, then taser them when they try to Instagram. And all greasy stains at the picnic tables are really bitter tears from the butt-hurt. 

The Three Dimensions of Shade

The Three Dimensions Of Shade

The San Gabriel sun is merciless. You've either found shade, or made your own. I've opted for making it.

I have a love-affair with 1" EMT pipe canopies. They beat crappy pop-ups cold. But you won't know this until your pop-up gets gusted into a gully, breaks its back, and you're left with junk. Bungee cords secure the shade panels. I double them up on the full-sun side, leaving the other sides open as needed. Then chase the sun from east to west. When something breaks, its only a part, not a complete system.

Slowing Everything Down To A Crawl

I began to think about things slowly again. How long does it take to do things correctly? Moving economically, without panic, I was completely set up in an hour. Three days later, knocking it down, I'd figured out ways to minimize unnecessary motion, in reverse.

By 10AM I was heading out on a short run. Once I got back, and got cleaned up, it was into the shade. Temps were already punching into the 90s. I didn't have anywhere to be. The hell with it. I took a nap.Then I read. Slowly.

I read crazy-assed articles in the New Yorker, in particular Lena Dunham's catalog of neurotic shit in "Difficult Girl". Is this fiction, or real?  As my Okie pal Larry Rich might say, "she's crazier than a shit-house rat". All signs point to the conclusion that this woman is useless. She seemingly can't do a goddamned thing. Her parents did not help her by letting her endlessly talk about whatever fixation popped up. She needed to a fill a barn full of hay bales, dig a water-line by hand at least 6" below frost wherever she lived, whatever. But sitting on your ass talking about shit just leads to more of same.  

And when reading paled, just sitting, listening to the wind blow, was good enough.

Ambient Campers

It was quiet until mid-Friday afternoon. Eventually more people showed up to claim a site. 

Top of the hill there was a full-on 5th-wheel trailer RV, massive pickup truck, and several other cars. A generator and Smoky Joe BBQ/incinerator rounded out the scene. The Mexicans above my site spent most of Saturday in low-keyed drinking with the accompanying drinking songs. The fizz went out when the ANF Cal-Fire trucks showed up and hosed down their campfire before it spread. They were packed and gone by twilight.

The metalheads next to me were still at it in a lo-volume way until 1AM, but they were harmless.

Gusts of high winds in the wee dark hours prompted fire paranoia. Then the thoughts of how do you distinguish signal-to-noise ratios in everyday thinking? I finally went back to sleep.

Driving out Sunday, got to see a rainbow of shade-making as people noted the obvious. Tarps, flies, and all staked, tied, poled to whatever they could find. Sometimes you'll see a solution you hadn't thought of before.

No Breathless FKT Prose Here

It's been only four months since my left arm came out of a cast, and I began training with any consistency. So yeah, I'm just a guy trying to cooperate with environment and circumstances to push it out a little further than I did last month. I leave the "crush and dominate", conquering rhetoric to others. This spring and summer I got through three 50ks: Born To Run, Shadow of the Giants, and Santa Barbara Nine Trails. The fact I'm uninjured gives me hope that I'm not screwing up—yet.

Friday: An 8-9mi out and back up to Mt Hillyer through the sandstone boulders without seeing anyone was very pleasant. And after three hours of the full photon-fury of the San G's, I was riddled with microscopic holes. Somewhere in the 3-hr range.

Saturday: A 15mi out n back from Eagle's Roost up past Windy Gap on Mt Baden-Powell. 5:40 or so.

Sunday: A 15mi loop out of the campground, again CCW up over Mt Hillyer, Three Points, then back down to Chilao. The interior of Sulphur Springs has to be the quietest place in the San Gabriels. The silence was absolute. Or the campers I saw as I ran down from Rosenita Saddle were still passed out and hungover. Geoff Cordner has written extensively about this patch of the range. He's not kidding. 


Driving down the mountain avoiding the double-yellow, left-of-center GoPro motorcyclists, I pulled into the Starbucks at Upper Milfington in La Piñata, CA. Within minutes I was effortlessly back in the digital slipstream.



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