Tag Archive | "hiking"

Mount Wilson Elevation Profile – Run It Fast

My Day Running Up and Down Mount Wilson

Mount Wilson Summit Run – Sierra Madre, California
January 30, 2014

The stresses of life and letdowns from others can often beat us up and tear us down in our day to day life.

On Thursday I needed an escape. I needed a mountain to pound  against and wrestle with until my body was beat down and my head was clear.

I’ve been trying to maximize and find all the beautiful, wonderful, and amazing places to train and run in and near Los Angeles over the past few months.

So a couple of nights ago I was searching maps and googling different searches and found Mount Wilson. Every review I read about it talked about how serious a ‘hike’ it was and one reviewer described the climb as ‘hell on earth.’ Well after reading that I found myself at the base of Mount Wilson less than 10 hours later. It was about a 40 minute drive from Hollywood.

I knew the climb up to the summit of Mt. Wilson was roughly a 4,500-5,000 foot gain over the course of give or take 7 miles.

By the time I parked it was already 2:15pm which didn’t leave too much daylight to run/hike up to the top and run back down. The day was already void of sun as it was extremely overcast, foggy, and full of dark clouds. I knew I’d have to Run It Fast® up and back down to beat the dark on what was an unfamiliar trail.

Running Up Mount Wilson

I started up the trail and immediately saw a guest book/log and wrote out ‘Joshua Ho…’ before the pen dried out. I had on a hydration vest with two bottles and hoped it wasn’t a prelude to my own hydration fate up on the mountain.

Half a mile into the trail, I saw the last human I’d see over the next 3+ hours. I’d love to tell you the views were beautiful the higher I climbed, but I couldn’t see anything after 1,000 feet of climb up the mountain (see below).

The climb up Wilson was no joke. I was able to run portions of it the first 3.5 miles and fast hike the other parts. After about 3.5 miles it became even more steep as the thick fog and dark clouds started to circle around me. I had my first thoughts of not being to get back down before it was dark and the rains set in.

The temperatures started to drop and the misty rain started to come down faster 4 miles in. I was running in a cut-off shirt and started to think that it might get too wet and cold before I reached the summit. As I mentioned earlier, no humans were anywhere to be found, especially this high up on the trail. I debated turning back as my hamstrings and back were starting to ache. However, I kept marching forward and feeling more and more liberated and free the higher I escaped into the clouds. I wasn’t done battling the mountain, and I’d regret not finishing if I turned back prematurely.

The 5th mile up the mountain had over 900 feet of gain and seemed to go on forever. I could never see too far ahead due to lack of visibility, but the trail before me, where I was watching every single step I planted, was beautiful and rich with character.

The next two miles averaged about 600 feet of climb per mile, but almost felt relatively flat after that 5th mile. About 6 miles up the trail I hit a rough jeep road that I made pretty good time on. The last 1.3ish miles to the summit were on this road.

The first half of the climb up Mt. Wilson was a serious climb, but most runners/hikers in decent shape can do it. The last half (after the first 3 miles) gets very krunk. It’s technical, very steep, and desolate in nature. I’m sure most days there is a bit more, or at least some, traffic on the trail higher up towards the observatory, but there was none when I went up it. I kept wondering what wildlife hid behind the next turn or behind the fog, but all I came across were a few squirrels and birds.

The Summit of Mount Wilson

It took me 2:03:11 to reach the top of Mount Wilson. The distance from where I started at my car to the top was clocked at 7.3 miles. The total climb per Strava was listed just a hair above 5,000 feet to a point of 5,665 of elevation.

The top, as I had read elsewhere, was in fact anti-climatic. It was a welcome sight as I knew that the climbing was over and that I’d be running a lot faster back down the mountain trail to civilization. However the summit of Mount Wilson, it’s just a bunch of roads at the top, along with the observatory which was rather small, and not a single example of life.

Running Down Mount Wilson

The trip back down the mountain was a lot faster than the way up and therefore not worthy as of many words. It was a fast down that was at times too fast. Some of the more technical parts leave 2-3 inches to plant your foot or down the mountain to your death you go. So it was important to pay attention to every step and slow down and walk through some very tight passes.

The steep run down was refreshing and fast! I started to feel it in my quads half way down as they were starting to grow sore. The miles back down the mountain clicked off so much faster than the ones up it.

The flight down had of course 5,000 feet of descent and took 1:20:30.

Mount Wilson Run Details

Total Mount Wilson 14.7 mile run had 5,088 feet of climb and 5,088 feet of descent and took 3:20:41.

Mt Wilson Mile By Mile Ascent/Descent, Pace
Mile 1: +729 -70, 14:53
Mile 2: +686 -49, 15:47
Mile 3: +513 -42, 15:05
Mile 4: +718 -42, 18:42
Mile 5: +995 – 41, 21:40
Mile 6: +687 0, 18:51
Mile 7: +546 0, 17:01
Mile 8: +53 -404, 13:11
Mile 9: 0 -533, 9:56
Mile 10: 0 -952, 12:33
Mile 11: 0 -801, 10:24
Mile 12: +97 -480, 10:25
Mile 13: 0 -655, 9:50
Mile 14: +88 -683, 10:11
Mile 14.7: 0, -392, 5:07

It was a great run. I’m glad I decided on a whim to go do it. I felt cleansed, alive, and detoxed after it was over. I couldn’t help but feel alive in the rain and Los Angeles rush hour traffic as I slowly drove back home in much the same fashion as I had made my way to the top of Mt. Wilson.

I’d recommend this trail to anyone. It takes a big effort to make it all of the way to the top and back, but it’s still worth the drive and time even if you just want to do a handful of miles instead of the whole enchilada.

joshua holmes (RIF #1)

PS: You can park in front of the small park on E Mira Monta Ave for free and walk up or start up Mount Wilson Trail Road right next to it.

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2011 Ironman World Championship

Inspiring Women of 2011

Chrissie Wellington Kona 2011

2011 was an amazing year for running. Records fell left and right. There were some very gutsy runs at top marathons, ultras, and on the track. The Olympic Marathon Trials are now less than 2 weeks away and 21 Masters Women qualified for them. 21! Women of all ages are rocking the running world and just about every weekend in 2011, I was inspired by them.

These 5 women/races/adventures in 2011 inspired me the most and made me want to lace up my running shoes and test what I was made of:

1. Chrissie Wellington at the Ironman World Championships

Chrissie always amazes me with her blazing speed, whether it’s setting records or smoking tri guys but she blew me away with her determination and pure grit in Kona this year. Just a couple of weeks prior to Kona, Chrissie crashed her bike. She had major road rash, bruised her hip, elbow and pectoral muscle, and had to battle an infection. During the Ironman, she was 9 minutes behind the lead woman coming out of the swim and 22 minutes behind coming off the bike. She was in pain. She was aching. But she battled back and won her 4th World Championship! You can read about her day here.

Or watch a recap of it here:
2011 Kona Recap-Chrissie

2. Caroline Kilel & Desi Davila at the 2011 Boston Marathon

I was “watching” this through Twitter as it happened and my coworkers were wondering why I kept yelling. It was so exciting and it had me on the edge of seat. I saw the finish later and still got chills. Watching the lead change back and forth between them…you could see neither wanted to give it up. When Caroline collapsed after the finish, you knew she’d left everything out there.

You can watch a recap of the women’s marathon here:
Boston 2011

3. Lauren Fleshman at the London, England IAAF Track and Field Diamond League

Lauren’s run in the 5000M showed how a great finish kick can you help you win. Bam! She just took off and kept going putting a huge gap on the competition. Talk about intimidating the competition!

You can watch a recap of it here:
Fleshman 5000M 2011

4. Devon Crosby Helms, Krissy Moehl, Darcy Africa, and Bethany Lewis at the Grand Canyon R2R2R (Rim to Rim to Rim)

This was quite a year for the Rim To Rim To Rim run for women. Devon & Krissy set the Female Fastest Known Time (FKT) back in April and then Darcy Africa set a new Female FKT just a few days later! Then in November, Bethany shaved almost 10 minutes off of Darcy’s time for yet another Female FKT! This run is hard core but these women rocked it in 2011.

This is a short video of Devon & Krissy’s run:
Devon & Krissy R2R2R

5. Jennifer Phar Davis Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail

Jen set the speed record for a thru-hike of the Appalachian trail, man or woman, and she did it in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes! For a girl who gets lost on trails she runs frequently, this floors me. What an adventure and what a great experience.

Here is a short interview with her about her hike:
Jennifer Phar Davis Interview

These women rocked 2011 and inspired me and countless other women (and men, I’m sure). Who inspired you? Who have you inspired? Or better yet…who will you inspire in 2012? Happy running!

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