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I’ve been up to Harbin Hot Springs 4 times this year and always run on the ridges there but have never really wrote about them.  I’ve talked about Father Time, his expulsion from the tavern for practicing an unappreciated form of pyrotechnics that is less of wizardry and more of a trick, and his realization that he’s no good after 12:01am on January 1’st.  Wrote of Baby New Year’s bumpy ride over the mountains in a hastily packed Contour before the sun even rose while hung over from his birthday celebrations and arriving at the retreat grinded and crunchy.  With Bob, my bff on his birthday and with Connie, my bbgff on an unexpectedly cold Easter weekend.  Always having a good time there, always trying to master the trails, which I finally had the opportunity to do on this Independence Day week visit with EZEvie.

Not enough time to prepare properly, but what the fuck.  Coming off of Pride week and Mz. SOMA 2010’s drag attack, bathing suit and wig still where she stripped them off last week.  So busy at work and the last week of tapering up before tapering down.  Was glad I planned the retreat, as I so needed to get away.  The morning we left I brought mostly inconsequential kitchen shit, but made sure I had my running gear, poolside drag, and evening wear.  Overpacked as usual.  Fortunately EZEvie had the foresight to gather most of the food and I took care of the gas and the driving so hopefully that was equitable.  She definitely took care of more than her share.

We get up there and it is seasonably hot.  Arrived after 6, a 5 hour car trip.  We were staying in the same tent cabin in the meadow that I stayed in last time with Connie and because of the temps had no fear that I’d wake in the morning with ice on the car.  Unpacked our beddings and personal items then drove up to the communal kitchen.  Had to rummage for cupboard space and room in the fridge because the resort was full booked with guests.  A little more intense than the energy that I experienced there, but there is always a little space for a new guest.

I was off to bed early, so fatigued I don’t even remember if I took to the waters that first night. Up automatically just after dawn, pleased with myself now in the recollection that I had laid out all my gear before I retired.  Used the camper shower to wake and refresh.  Geared up, leaving EZEvie crashed out and went to Fern kitchen to make a cup of coffee and fill the bladder of my CamelBak with Cytomax in full solution.

It was my intention to take Serenity Path from behind the lodge that houses the segregated dorms and spa treatment rooms to Straight Ascent and thereby connect with the Ridge Trail near its middle.  From the Ridge Trail connect with Dancing Deer Trail and then descend down it to arrive back at our tent cabin in the meadow.

It was just after 7am then when I started tracking with my GPS and even already getting warm.  On Serenity and just out of sight of the dorms I decided right then to shuck my shorts and do the whole run naked.  Onto Straight Ascent then I’m realizing my visor is making me overheat and my heart rate monitor is ridiculous so I take all that apparatus off and am just running in socks, shoes a watch flashing a lo mem message and my hydration unit.  Cresting to the Ridge Trail and I’m fully exposed, experiencing the familiar dips and twists of a beloved trail, reminding myself its alright to stop and admire the beauty instead of crunching out for speed.  I turn behind me to see two hot air balloons loftily ascending in the distance.

Ridge Trail is extremely technical, yet it is a wide fire road.  Its exposure to the elements and lack of cover is its biggest obstacle however running it bare ass naked while being well protected with UV protectant creams and sprays is the best way to deal with it.  I’ve never come across another hiker there.  Because I started on the Ridge near it’s middle it is only a short mile until I interept Dancing Deer.

I stop at this trailhead and start a fresh GPS track knowing that I will be able to tweet my location from here because I get 3G at that elevation.  Using a cell phone for a non-emergency is not in accordance with the retreats agreements but I went up there agreeing that I’d be disagreeable but discreet.  I ended up paying for that later.  I also wanted to clearly have the trails marked in my GPS history so I could refer to them later.  I felt like a hardened trail runner reading the warning on the trail marker.  Dancing Deer is an extremely difficult trail taking 2-3 hours to complete. One is advised to not hike it alone and to bring plenty of water with electrolytes.  Electrolytes I had, 2-3 hours, no.  A hiking partner?  I wish.

So where the Ridge Trail is exposed, Dancing Deer is under canopy.  This part of the trail is actually quite lush and the canopy is of Blue Oak, Manzanita and Madrone.  The sides of the trail are peopled with poison oak and where the evergreens encroach with their twiggy branches upon the trail one has to duck, wiggle and slide in order to avoid being scratched.  The ascents are steep as are the descents.  A great opportunity for me to work on my climbing and my technical downhill.

I was trying to orient from memory and had only come up Dancing Deer once on the last visit, missing it every time in my previous ones because the trail had been erroneously marked as the Upper Village Path.  When I found Dancing Deer from its terminus on a past visit the wrong trailhead had been smashed and a correct one stood in its stead.  However, the cutoff is just right of the main path and I found myself blowing past it.  My landmark was a hill before and a fork to the side, but because of the rains the grasses now dry aided in disappearing the trail and I continued along the ridge looking for something else more familiar.  I came to a beautiful clearing with no egress and had to backtrack.  Establishing a clear trail I bordered off the false by laying out some dessicated branches from a pile nearby.  I continued down the clear trail and soon encountered horse shit a few hours old and emerged onto a wider bulldozed road and saw the markers for the telephone underground cables and thought to myself, aww shit, here I go, I missed it again.  Had to put my shorts back on cos I knew for certain that I was off property on private land.

This is Boggs Mountain Road that I came out on and up the hill will take you to Boggs Mountain State Demonstration Forest.  I’ve been quite lost up there before.  Downhill is to the New Age retreat and almost instantly encountered the two old nags chomping on dead grass in the shade of a tractor.  Always giving them wide berth I continued on downhill trying to be easy with it but strong in it as to not injure my low back, hips or hams.  Knees to, oh and yeah calves.  Soon came to the locked wood and aluminum gate that seperates Harbin from Koelling Ranch and had to climb it.  All downhill to the meadow now passing waking campers about their wake-up business sprinting to the finish putting on a good show for trail runners.  Got to the cabin dripping white salt sweat and EZEvie was still curled up on the twin.

  • 5 July 2010
  • 1:27:05-8:31am
  • 1:26
  • 18:30 avg. pace

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AZ Adventrue Running. AZ Adventrue Running said: SERENITY PATH « Trail Running Dolphin Talker http://bit.ly/avlaMe […]

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