Tuesday, January 29, 2008


My very talented friend, Deb Pero of New Hampshire, has a new website displaying her artwork. To demonstrate how talented and give a taste of her work, I've posted two of my favorites above. Be sure to check out the Portfolio of Works, especially the Colorado landscapes (that is, Hardrock 100 scenes), landscapes, and a painting a day. Oh, dang it--just click on all of them! You might just see a work from a recent race. She's also just started a blog. Deb is one of THE most mentally tough people I know and an all around super person.

In other news... While on a run in Pt. Mugu late this afternoon, my ears detected the unmistakable sound of spring peepers. On January 29!! What the...?? This phenomena usually occurs no earlier than mid-April where I used to live in Vermont. It is a lovely sound, one announcing the arrival of spring, the mating season, the rebirth after the long frozen winter! It was pretty cool to hear the peepers in January. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

In the Land of Sun

Sunset view from Organ Pipe National Monument's campground.

Levitating in Arch Canyon. :-) We climbed way above the arches.

Chris had a business trip to Phoenix this week, so we left CA last Thursday and made a week-long road trip out of it. After visiting his dear friend Jeanne in Santa Monica and dining at a groovy raw foods restaurant (yep, we WERE in Santa Monica!), we bagged a whopping 3 miler, Monument Peak, in southern Joshua Tree National Park before heading further eastward to Blythe and Quartzite.

If you like road trippin', I highly recommend you put Quartzite on your list of Jan-Feb destinations. Home of possibly the largest gem-and-mineral show in the country, Quartzite attracts rock hounds and RV'ing snowbirds by the thousands, vendor stalls sprouting by the dozens with kind of a county fair flavor. We didn't have time to see it all, barely scratched the surface actually, because we wanted to make it to
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument for the night.

After a LONG drive across southwestern AZ with a quick stop at the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge headquarters in Ajo (Cabeza Prieta, incidentally, is the final resting place of Ed Abbey and a destination added to my "Places to explore in more depth someday" list) we made it to Organ Pipe in time for me to get in a short run before nightfall. With the campground only about 5 miles from the Mexican border, the presence of many, many border patrol vehicles, and especially after coming across some empty water bottles, torn jeans, and a pair of boots (did the person continue BAREFOOTED??), all most likely jettisoned by an illegal, I spent the majority of the run pondering the plight of illegal immigrants, at the same time realizing how fortunate I am to have been born here and how much we Americans sometimes take for granted. The Monument was splendid, with more kinds of cacti than I'd ever seen before, including of course, the ubiquitous organ pipe variety, pictured above. We were told that the best time to visit, however, is when the spring flowers erupt in April.

After a rugged and scrambly hike in Arch Canyon (two arches!), we headed north through the outpost of Why (yep, that's the name of a town) and through the Tahono-O'odham Indian Reservation, a vast, sparsely populated, desolate yet fascinating section of desert that seemed more akin to a hawk sanctuary -- literally dozens were sighted! Ignorant of the fact that Florence, AZ, is home to reputedly 17 (!) prisons, we somehow ended up there Sunday night but had some great Mexican and margaritas.

We finally arrived at the hotel in downtown Phoenix after a nice hike up Peralta Canyon in the Superstition Mountains just east of the city. Hotel guests are allowed to use the adjacent fitness center, so I was able to get in my upper body weight work and two yoga classes this week. Oh boy! I also hit the trails every day, climbing Camelback and Piestewa Peaks right in the city--how cool is that?!--and a nice 20 miler out in McDowell Mtn. Park, home of the Javelina Jundred and the Pemberton Trail 50k. (My body reminded me that I hadn't done any long runs for a few weeks...)

Back to CA tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


...by the lovely weather. After the rain and snow last weekend--that was winter!--we've had a string of absolutely spectacular weather here in Ventura County the past week, with bright sun and temps in the 60s and 70s every day. Although this is my second winter here, spending it in a Mediterranean climate and running in shorts year round is still such a treat for me after living in Vermont so many years. Vermont is a great place to be from May to October (and still the coolest state in the country politically and socially, IMO), and while I love playing in the snow, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, it was the day-to-day layering of clothing, cleaning off the car, shoveling out the mailbox and walkways, getting stuck in the driveway, managing my Raynaud's-afflicted hands, paying the oil bill, etc., all the while under a somber, gray sky that really used to wear on me. Compare this forecast with this one. I rest my case. :)

Hopefully with a little more rain the vegetation will look like this in a month or so. (Photo of Serrano Valley & "Buttcrack Rock" in Pt. Mugu SP, where I run a bunch, with the ocean in background.)
While the weather is fabulous and I'd rather be outside, we decided to join the YMCA recently for a few reasons: I sorely missed doing structured yoga, my upper body is pitifully weak, and Chris likes to swim. Throw in spinning--now apparently called "Cycle Reebok"--classes for a change of pace, and no initiation fee, and we were an easy sell. After four sessions--that is, spinning class, weight work, and yoga on M-W-F (3.5 hours total!)--I can already notice an effect. Basically I wake up in spinning class. It is held at 6 a.m. and I am NOT a morning person! The instructor is about my age and has a penchant for 80s rock, the tunes I used to party to in another life--happy memories those are! It's a great "cardio" (gym lingo) workout, and I sweat like crazy. Then it's off to the weight room, where senior citizens humble me (I really am pathetic). Finally, my favorite, the reward--YOGA. I love it. My goal is, when we're in town, to keep up this routine until departing for Alaska in mid May. More on that later...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It does rain--and snow--in SoCal

... once in a very great while, that is. We had to be up in Ojai for an appointment this morning and decided to check out the Rose Valley waterfall and the snow on Nordoff Ridge. Followed a set of bobcat tracks partway up the chip-seal road (part of the C2M course). There was so much snow & rain that the waterfall was actually falling! With a bit more snow on the ridge, I could get out the cross country skis. ??

On a more somber note, my heart goes out to the family of Meredith Emerson, the young woman who went missing near the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in North Georgia on New Years Day. She was a lover of animals, a beautiful woman only 24 years of age who loved to hike with her black lab, whose life was tragically cut short by a total nutcase. The family is asking those who wish to honor Meredith do so by contributing to their local animal shelters.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Trailrunner article

The February issue of Trailrunner magazine has a writeup of my JMT speed hike in the "Making Tracks" section. I am honored that they chose to report it and am overall pleased with the article. Kate, the writer, was pleasant and enthusiastic. I am slightly disappointed, however, that the finished product turned into a bit of a female-empowerment piece after much back-and-forth Q&A covering many other aspects of the undertaking. NOT that I'm against empowering women, but I wish the focus had been more on the adventure itself and not on gender. It's obvious that I'm female, so people can draw their own conclusions about what that means to them, if anything. Perhaps it's simply impossible for one to be completely satisfied with what is written about her... or maybe I'm just too much of a perfectionist!!

The photographer, Brian S., took a bunch of photos on the Ray Miller Trail here in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was very strange to "pose" for running shots! (He gave permission to use his photos on my blog.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

We had a great time spending my b'day and the holidays in the desert - Death Valley and Zion National Parks and Valley of Fire State Park. This was my second trip to Death Valley - I really fell in love with it this time and can't wait to return in the spring.

We ended up in Las Vegas the evening of 12/24 and decided to spend the night in a real bed after car camping in the Element the previous couple of nights - definitely my weirdest Christmas venue ever, but what a hoot to walk the Strip with those of "heathenish tendencies" on Christmas Eve! :p Christmas Day we journeyed to Valley of Fire to gawk at the rocks and petroglyphs. I risked minor injury to get this photo; obviously this artwork was done before boulders fell to partially obscure "Batwoman."

In Zion I had to do Angel's Landing again, a bit of ice adding to the adrenaline rush. We also had an extra special hike to Court of the Patriarchs and to Observation Point...
Sublimely beautiful rocks everywhere. This is in Valley of Fire State Park, only ~40 minutes outside Vegas. The campgrounds there rivaled Joshua Tree's.
As we were leaving the Park, we spotted about a dozen very healthy appearing bighorn sheep who allowed us multiple photographs before becoming bored with the silly humans.

Oodles of amazing 3000+ year-old petroglyphs.
One of the 10 charcoal kilns at Death Valley's Wildrose Peak trailhead. Although they haven't been used since the late 19th century, they still smelled of smoke. We hiked only a couple of miles up the trail to stretch our legs but will be back in the spring to climb the peak (Telescope too!)

Running the Artists Palette loop in gorgeous 70 degree temps in SHORTS the day before Christmas. After living through 30+ years of Vermont winters, I just find that to be such a treat. (And no, I'm definitely not training for Badwater.)
Weird stuff in the desert. This is near the ghost town of Rhyolite which we visited just before driving through the spectacular Titus Canyon.
More art...
Here's to a happy and healthy 2008!