It seems that every year for the past 3 years, there has been a run involving Joplin Trail that gets the dubious title of "death march" or something like that. Usually it involves a lot of heat. Our Sunday long run was no exception. We started at 5:30AM to beat some of the heat but as you can see, the sun was already coming up.
I planned out a "special course" that was just in side the closed fire burn area. According to the US Forest Service, Joplin Trail is open. So the plan was to start at the end of Trabuco Creek Road, go up Holy Jim Trail to Santiago Peak, then down the other side to Joplin, down Joplin, briefly on Santiago Trail then cut down on an unnamed/unmarked trail back onto Trabuco Creek Road and back to our cars.
Word came that it was going to be HOT. Nickie and I went and dropped water at mile 5. We also dropped some water within about the last mile of running. With my calculations I’d have about 20 ounces for the first 5 miles, then 90 for the next 15 and refill for the last mile. I assumed I’d run out and be without for about a mile if it was hot. But things got slow…
This tip up to Holy Jim was great and even climbing Holy Jim went very well for us. At the top we started experiencing the miserable swarms of gnats and flies that would plague us for most of the rest of our run. We met a guy named Mike at the top of Holy Jim. He was training for the Leadville 100 and we ran/hiked with him to Santiago Peak which was his turn around point.
Above is a view from Holy Jim Trail. It was a beautiful and clear day.
Enjoying the top. We were feeling it by now and ready for some downhill. I started waning a bit on the trip up to Santiago from the top of Holy Jim. I had to take a few stop breaks. The four of us rested for a bit at the top then we parted ways with Mike. The downhill on Main Divide felt great. There was no sign of any burn area on this side of Modjeska Peak (in the saddle) or on Modjeska peak which is good. It wasn’t long before we got to Joplin Trail.
Here we are just before going down Joplin. The trail has always been miserable coming up. Easily one of the most technical trails in Orange County. It sure was a good test for my shoes! We started down and soon experienced abundant over growth.
Has anyone seen my trail? Going down Joplin was SLOW. We hiked much of it. We were feeling the heat. We had about 6 miles of downhill to go but this section might as well have been up. It was rocky, steep, slippery, overgrown and slightly hellish to descend. It took us a while to get to Old Camp. After that we slowly made our way to Santiago Truck Trail after some water splashing in the cold stream. We were pretty much all out of water now with 4 miles to go. If it hadn’t been so blasted hot we’d have done much better. We walked we ran we melted. The heat blasted us like a furnace going down. We found our branch off Santiago and I was looking forward to coasting down some fireroad. This road was nearly as steep as Joplin! We walk, ran, and roller skated down this fire road (and some of us fell a few times). It was rough in the raging heat. With about 2.5 miles to go we ran into some guys on the trail in their pickup truck and I asked them for water which they had. A total life saver. Normally I wouldn’t stop to talk to two guys in jeans with their underwear hanging out and no shirts – throwing crap over the mountainside, but hey sometimes you gotta do it (queue hillbilly music). They filled us all up about 20oz each. Mine was gone within the next half mile. We were very thankful for that sweet nectar. I had drank 130oz of water by now and it was still not enough.
We got down to Trabuco Creek Road and were looking for a ride to hitch back to our cars. We found one eventually and it was heaven!! We picked up the water toward the end and used about half of that when we got back to our cars. Despite the miserable heat I don’t feel like I ever got heat exhaustion or was close. I was just pretty tired toward those final miles. The last 6 downhill miles took a toll on our finishing time which ended up being a little over 7 hours for almost 22 miles. The temp when we got back to our cars read 102 degrees. Our total elevation gain was 5,600 feet.
The Salomon XT Wings held up great and I was very impressed. I had nearly 7.5 hours on my feet in them and took them on some pretty gnarly trails. They felt well cushioned, light, stable and pretty much everything you’d want on a run like this. I had no hot spots, no blisters, no foot pain or aches, etc.
The Nokia N82 left me a bit disappointed on this run. Although it took amazing photos (all photos in this post are from the phone) and great video, it crashed on me twice. Around mile 6 it seemed to crash for no reason and my phone rebooted. At Santiago Peak I tried to send a picture to my blog and my phone completely locked up and I had to pull the battery out. When it locked it also sucked my battery from 3/4 to 1/4 left in about 30 seconds. The phone also died in 6 hours total time, partially due to this power drain on the peak. I hope they offer a feature in the future that if it crashes you can continue the workout where you left off, instead of having multiple dis-jointed workouts. Another great feature (that I love on my Suunto) would be to show total cumulative ascent and descent while you are running. I’m still holding out my full rating on this phone. I really have liked it so far but crashing during my run put a damper on my opinion for now. Stay tuned!
Despite the heat and bugs and crashing it was a mostly very enjoyable run.
Happy Running & Dirty Feet,