This weekend I had planned to go back and cycle the Ojai Century ride, I had technical failure last year and only managed to complete 80 odd miles. But instead I headed out to the San Gabriel Mountains to get my trail maintenance ticket punched for the AC100, a days work is required as part of the entry and it was a good opportunity to see some of the trail up close and personal. An early start and I was at the meeting point by 7:00am surrounded by other runners and several Parks department folks who are associated with the race, all holding travel mugs of coffee and chatting away. It’s always easy to insert yourself into a conversation and it gave me the opportunity to actually talk to some Facebook friends with whom I had only said hi to on race day.
We sorted out some car-pooling and I took two others in my Expedition; hi-lift was recommended for the drive up. After a short journey we hit the trailhead and the large metal gate baring our way, after some finesse with a crowbar it was open and we were driving up the trail. The cloud was low and thick as we drove through and I wondered what lay in store at the work area. We drove for about 30 minutes eventually topping out above the cloud and were presented with some amazing views of the surrounding peaks.
After parking the cars we shook out into five workgroups of 6 people and were equipped with McCleods, Polaskis and snips and given our directions. The group included a fellow Brit (yeah we’re everywhere) as well as several other familiar faces that I know from the “scene” but had never had the opportunity to talk to. We walked down and the conversation obviously touched on the usual topics; races run, race bucket lists and the like. We had a 2.5 mile walk along the trail to our section which was only .75 of a mile long but needed some serious work on overhanging branches as well as widening and clearing along most of the way, it’s amazing how long it can take to clean a section 30’ long and the 6 of us worked hard through to a 15 minute lunch and then through to about 2:00pm. We all had a vested interest in doing a good job as this section was around the Mile 85 mark which we would be climbing between 26-28 hours into the race.
We had been told to return between 3-3:30pm and we had a mostly uphill walk. The cloud had lifted off of Mt Wilson (5710’) and I was told that it’s peak was around Mile 75 after which runners dropped down its side and back up Idlehour Trail, (the one we were working on) to an Aid Station at Mile 90.
I reached the top and shared some cookies and coke (detox over!), after a dusty drive down I dropped off my car-poolers and headed home.
All in all a good days work which will benefit not only me and a some good exposure to the race terrain, albeit only 3% of the course. It's a reminder that the San Gabriel’s are big and beautiful and, I am sure, unforgiving!
Here are some photos from the day.