Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Mt. Diablo Three Day Weekend

This past three day weekend allowed for some running around and to the summit of Mt. Diablo. The weather was just perfect, with temps in the low 70's on Saturday and overcast and a slight drizzle on Monday.  

Hard to believe we would be looking down on this point a couple days later.

So on Saturday, my wife and I ran the Buckeye Loop out of Castle Rock Regional Park.  This was an 8 mile loop which meant we ran out Stage Road and up Burma Road to get to the Buckeye Trail cut-off.  I hadn't run the loop since my 50K in April.  I felt so good and strong on this run, and the valley was gorgeous.   The grass is completely dried out as well as some of the creeks.  We expected to see a lot of wildlife, and snakes, but besides a lone deer it was pretty uneventful.  It was a really nice run with my wife.

On Monday, we awoke to gray clouds.  You couldn't see the top of the mountain; however, Weather.com promised that the rain would hold off until 4:00 PM.  My wife greeted my slumber to a suggestion of summiting Mt. Diablo.  Having just dreamed about pine cones and toothpicks (it was supposed to be for a science project, strange dream) I thought why not!
The clouds were low to start off.

We got to the Michell Canyon Staging area and began our run at 9:00 A.M.  The first two miles of the run is a subtle climb, the the real climbing begins.  We were making good time, stopping every so often to taken in the scenery.  Off in the distance we could make out the trails on Black Point, which we had run a couple of months back.  By Deer Flat, we were still feeling strong.  
There was no water in the creek a few feet down stream.

Once we made it to the Burma Road Cut-off we could see what we had run on Saturday.  Being at the 2900 foot level at this time, it is funny to think that we spend much of our time in Pine Valley training.  Don't get me wrong, Saturday's run consisted of 1,500 feet of elevation.  But to see it from this perspective was pretty awesome.

We filled up our water bottles at Juniper Campground.  This was at the base of the Juniper Trail single track we would climb for the next 1.5 miles and 900 feet.  I love Juniper Trail for how technical it can be coming down.  It was about mid-way up the weather started to change with the lower cloud level blowing in as well as a bit of a temperature drop.  

Once at the top, we took a brief break from the wind to fuel up and get warm in the visitor center.  I was really itching to get back and run down the mountain.
The rain coming in.

That said, coming down Juniper was a little more technical than I had planned with a bunch of hikers for some reason wanting to participate in our fun. I can't tell you how many times I had someone ask how much further to the top, knowing that they hadn't gone that far up Juniper in the first place.  Meantime I was launching myself off of rock and gravel to get down.

Once through the campground, it was all fire road.  It is a pretty fast run but you need to know that you are running basically 3,400 feet and 7 miles of it.  Your quads will feel it.  I actually PR'd my time between Deer Flat and the Mitchell Canyon parking lot at 37 minutes.  
Overall, we covered 13.6 miles, with 3,400 feet of elevation gain in 3:45 minutes.  
Getting warm by the "Fire".
As usual, I love that my wife and I are able to do this together and that we can be spontaneous in just saying, lets go run up a mountain.  This is so much different than how I was raised and how much more different it was from when I looked at three day weekends as a time to catch up with my rest.

For the weekend, over 22 miles, over 5,000 feet!

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