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Bears, Beers and Big Cats (All in a Day’s Work)

by Carilyn on February 25, 2013

Saturday proved to be more of a beat-up than I had intended. Well, I hadn’t really intended it to be any sort of beat-up, but you know how it goes.

I headed out early for Eaton Canyon. Southern California sunshine beckons you out even if you would much rather be hiding under the covers and dreaming of doughnuts. I wanted to do 20 on trails, but am still a little timid about hitting the upper trails alone, so I opted for 5 mile repeats up to Henninger Flats and back. With a climb of about 2000 feet over 2.5 miles, the grade is…well, we all know that I have no idea, as that would require math that is way beyond my capabilities and I’m too lazy to look it up on the internet. But, trust me, it is steep!

On my first trip up the mountain, I hear a runner quickly approaching me. What?! Come on! This run is supposed to make me feel powerful and badassish. But this guy came up behind me like I was taking a gummi bear break. As he passed me, though, I realized it was Jorge Pacheco (a TRUE badass), so I didn’t feel as bad. We chatted for a bit, long enough for me to find out he was doing a 40 mile run on the upper trails. If I had even the slightest chance of keeping up with him,  I would have stalked followed him so that I could check out the route. But, alas, before I had the chance to even come up with a plan, he was off, making it look as effortless as if we were on the track. Sheesh.

On the way down from Henninger Flats, I ran into Jorge’s wife, Maria, who was doing her own version of the loop – a 28 mile run – so that she and Jorge could finish together. I asked her if she was afraid to be up on the higher trails alone, and she said, no, that she just made sure she kept one ear open for the mountain lions and bears. Hmmmm…And she didn’t appear to be kidding.

I made my 4 round trips, happily seeing my friend Rob with 2 top female runners, Linda and Debbie, on the last loop. It is always such a charge to see people on these runs – it really helped me finish up the run with some pep (yes, I watched Lawrence Welk again last night). I took the last descent fast, and finished feeling elated and exhausted. And starving. And a Clif Bar wasn’t going to cut it.

After a quick shower, Hubz took me out to lunch where we had a delicious wheat beer (for recovery, of course), and then headed next door to the English pub for another (for fun). One of my favorite things about living part-time in Cali is that we have an apartment downtown so everything is within walking distance – my first experience with urban living! Now, I can run mountains in the morning and do a pub crawl in the afternoon (although my sons informed me that a true “pub crawl” has to involve more than 2 beers. Whatever. I’m still calling it a pub crawl – it sounds cooler).

When we got home, I was still curious about the mountain lion issue, so I googled it (yes, I know I’m obsessed, so just give me a break) and this is one of the MANY videos I found:

I did stop short of googling bear videos. Okay, I actually plan to do that next.

Anyway, my ankles are a little puffy from the hard descents, and my brain is a little crazy from all the mountain lion dreams, but I’m ready to get back up on the mountain. Anyone know where I can buy some good Mountain Lion Bells?


Happy Running!


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate February 25, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I won’t lie…that whole bear thing is what makes me most nervous about the Tour Divide…even more than the whole 2700+ mile thing. I’ve got several years before putting that fear on the front burner, though.

When I run our “hills” here, it’s part gasping for breath staggering and part realizing I don’t know what real elevation is.

Marcia February 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Mountain lions pass thru these parts more often than I’d like. Can only imagine how you feel running in ‘lion country’ Eeeek!

Char February 25, 2013 at 5:04 pm

My brains a little crazy from trying to work out the gradient of your run. 2000 feet in 2.5 miles? I should be able to do that, surely. But after trying and failing for way too Iong I realised that I couldn’t possibly do it because it’s not metric. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

pensive pumpkin February 25, 2013 at 6:50 pm

oh, the mountain lion fear. this conversation gets rehashed a ton in these parts. on one hike a few years ago, we took a ferry across a lake and then hiked back, breaking cobwebs the whole way. not a soul around. i kept smelling something AWFUL. i knew perfectly well we were being stalked by something, but i just couldn’t see it. chevalier kept telling me it was nothing, but we didn’t linger. ever. our breaks were almost nonexistent.

when we reached the opposite trailhead, we found the sign that mountain lion activity had been reported in the area, and the cat had been stalking people from the trees. i couldn’t see it because i was wearing a giant sunhat. and it was probably above me.

if they get close enough, you can smell them. trust me. you’ll know.

Carilyn February 25, 2013 at 8:23 pm

When I watched the Ride the Divide, Kate, I kept wondering how they could be so brave just to roll out their sleeping bags and sleep in a field. They were definitely in bear country most of the time! Yikes! But I haven’t heard of anyone getting eaten, so I guess it isn’t a big problem 🙂

Carilyn February 25, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Really, Marcia? I didn’t know you had mountain lions up there. Wow! We have them in El Paso, but I rarely run trails because it’s so rocky, so I’ve never really worried about them. Here, you see tracks quiet often, so it’s definitely unnerving!

Carilyn February 25, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I can’t do it in either system, Char! 🙂

Carilyn February 25, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Yikes, PP! That sounds way too scary!! At Western States training camp a runner told me that some guy was looking out into a canyon with his telescope, tracking a mountain lion. When he looked down, he saw two runners. The mountain lion was stalking the runners. Never heard if it ate them!

Kirstin C (@ultrarunnergirl) February 26, 2013 at 7:54 am

Scary, but cool. Three years ago we were in my hometown in Kansas for Christmas, and a bunch of old guys at the local coffee shop (Pony Espresso) were passing around wildlife camera photos of a mountain lion, from an area just 30 miles away. They are everywhere, and very stealthy. When I run the rail trail out there, I make sure to have Hubz with me, just in case.
Also, I am very impressed with your hill repeats. I am so bad on hills.

Carilyn February 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I’m with you, Kirstin! I always want company!

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