I referred to a series of misadventures earlier and in my WLC Week 2 Update I outlined the difficulties I faced this last week. However, I also had some really awesome fun and so I’m going to focus on that in this post with a little humorous recounting of some mishaps we encountered.
My awesome weekend started Thursday when I got to attend Social Fresh West for work. I’ve really been wanting to delve more into social media for professional and personal reasons and was amazed that I was able to get my boss to agree (I kept the trip under budget by staying at a friend’s place and bumming a ride from others driving down to San Diego).
I learned a lot, met great people, and got home Friday evening a little socially exhausted (introvert here) and ready to unpack and repack for camping/volunteering at Leona Valley Trail Races. At 5 AM Saturday morning we were on our way to Lake Hughes, CA. We hopped in the car and figured it’d be smooth sailing so early in the morning. Ahhh, not so fast.
The freeway was closed. We got on and immediately got off and were detoured with a ton of other cars. 5 AM traffic sucks! Yes, I know this was Carmageddon II weekend but we live NOWHERE NEAR that section of the freeway. There had been no advanced notice of this. I was so worried we wouldn’t make to the start of the race in time to set up our aid station. I HATE being late.
20 min. later we were finally where we needed to be and headed to the trails. I fell asleep in the car. As the sun was rising we were entering the beautiful expanse of wide open Angeles National Forest. There’s a dusty kind of excitement about driving windy roads out into the canyons to spend all day under the sun.
I got to officially meet the fabulous Keira Henninger for the first time Saturday morning. Her open and honest blog, her mad running chops, her renowned races, and mostly her passion for a life well-lived makes her the kind of person that people gravitate toward. I admire her very much and aspire to live my passions as she lives hers. I’d love to have her life but then I’d have to actually run and WIN 100 mile races and I can’t see that being a good goal for me.
Keira gave us direction to our aid station and we took off on a narrow, bumpy, steep fire road toward mile 16 of the full marathon course. I love my truck. But my husband got to do the driving. :-/
Barb, Michael and Sassy the Runner Dog were already setting up the food when we arrived. I brought out my Aloha decorations (thank you Creative Teaching Press) and my contribution was fancying up the table and distributing lei’s. I’d like to think this was a sight for sore eyes.
Now, the Leona Valley Trail Races are no joke. For those running the full marathon, somewhere after mile 11 runners start a 1500 ft. climb to the mile 16 aid station. And it gets hot out there – 100 degrees – and there’s not a ton of cover on the Pacific Crest Trail down here in SoCal.
Our mission at Aloha Aid Station was to get our runners cooled down with ice cold, wet towels, refill their water packs/bottles, make sure they got their choice of our gourmet run food (salt licks, gels, salted potatoes, PB ‘n’ J, chocolate covered espresso beans, oranges, bananas, chips, and peanut butter filled pretzel squares).
See all the Leona Valley Trail Race photos here.
In a previous post, I promised you beautiful running babes and picturesque trails. Well, check out these photos:
So, volunteering was an absolute blast. Once our duties were done we headed to Cottonwood Campground to set up for the night.
When we arrived, the camp was nearly empty and it was nice and breezy and quiet. However, we should’ve taken note of the fact that there were some left-behind belongings strewn about (clothes and trash) and spray paint on some tree stumps. We also should’ve taken note that out in Lake Hughes, there is one main road into town and Cottonwood Campground is RIGHT off that road.
This was the first time J and I have set up camp just the two of us. It was fun. We did some campfire cooking and relaxed until the sun went down.
After dark, we settled in for the night, as did the other campers. We had about 20 minutes of nothing but nature noise. Unfortunately, as the moon began to rise and peak over the canyon walls beside us, our tent was completely exposed to a full moon that was brighter than a street light. Then, a lot of cars were going by on the road for some reason. It was like camping on a street corner downtown. Then, about an hour after dark, a car arrived and new campers started setting up.
That’s when we realized it was over. Our new camp neighbors were young, loud, filling up helium balloons!?, and perfectly content to reinforce the negative stereotypes of their culture. A second car arrived. Then a third. Then a fourth; windows down with music playing as they drove around the campground.
We had our entire campsite packed up in 20 minutes and we were out of there. Boo! If I wanted to listen to that all night I could’ve camped in the city. Note to self: Cottonwood Campground is not remote enough to escape. Do not return.
So, we drove just over an hour to our church, where we had to be in the morning anyway, and set up camp in the young adult room. We cooked our camp breakfast in the church kitchen. All in all, it was good. It was dark, it was quiet. We got to attend the early service and catch the 49ers shut out game against the Jets!
We definitely want to camp again soon but hopefully when we can truly get away from…other people.