I've been making it a point to get outta the city and hit the beautiful hilly trails that surround us in the San Francisco Bay Area. This time of year the weather is great, wild flowers are popping and the trails aren't quite so saturated with the summer crowds.
Last weekend I embarked on what I have since dubbed "The Dot Com Death Run", a 15 mile run with 4200' of elevation gain and descent. Don't steal that name race directors! I might use it and start my own race with that one day. I picked the MONTE BELLO OPEN SPACE PRESERVE (photo above)... I was actually on my way to Portola Redwoods State Park but I saw the Monte Bello parking area and decided to check it out. I had a map of the area in my hiking book so I felt comfortable to get out there and explore. Once I parked I realized I had only brought one large bottle of water and only two 12oz Amphipod Bottles and there was nowhere to fill up on the run or in the parking lot. Shit. The last store I saw was about 30 minutes earlier. I had some salt tabs, 3 GUs and figured I would just tough it out. As you can see in the pic, there is quite a lot of exposed ridge there and it was about 75 that day. You can also see in the pic that it drops down 2000' to Stevens Creek. I took off along that ridge for a couple miles and came to a crossroads. I decided to drop down to the creek which was an extremely steep 1.5 miles. Then I hung a left at another trail intersection and ran along the creek for a few miles. At this point, I hadn't seen anyone for a while and running in completely new territory I was starting to feel kinda "out there"... especially being a dude who lives in the city :) Was I going to be able to remember the turns I made on the way back? Was a mountain lion going to try and make me dinner? All of this analysis was taxing my running and then I remembered some wise running wisdom I once heard (or read) "take what the trail offers you". This is good advice for life as well, so I carried on. 5 minutes later I ran up to the creek crossing and one of the most amazing Redwoods groves I have ever seen. I crossed Stevens Creek and ran the 2 miles and 1800 ft up to the ridge at Skyline Blvd. My water conservation was going as best it could which meant I drank most of it already.
I turned around and bombed back down through the redwoods across the creek (forcing myself not to drink any creek water... it was so cold and tempting though) and pushed back up the gently rolling creek side trail to the base of.... the death climb. I saved about 4 ounces of water to drink when I got to the top. I was parched at this point. I started up the hill into the sun trying to run every 50ft or so. Damn that hill was steep. As I was about 2/3 of the way up a turkey vulture started circling me... I yelled up to him (or her), "I'm not dead yet!" and I mustered up some energy to run another five feet :) Deep in thought on the ascent of the death climb I started thinking back to the views of Silicon Valley from the ridge above and then I started thinking of that turkey vulture thinking about how close my proximity to death looked and then it dawned on me, this run would forever be known as The Dot Com Death Run.