Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring has sprung!

Pine Mountain Rd-Kent Lake Loop
(Pine Mountain Rd- Oat Hill Rd- Old Vee- Alpine Kent Pump Rd- Little Carson- Unnamed trail- Oat Hill- Pine Mountain Rd)
(8.7 miles)

I almost didn't run this trail this morning. I had to be somewhere at noon, and I had a moment of thinking, "Well, you will be back at the house much faster and you'll have less of a carbon footprint (because it's the Bay Area and we think like this) if you run at Wildcat." And then I thought, naw-- I really wanted to run someplace new, so I threw the dog in the car (metaphorically speaking) and headed for Marin.

This trail starts off the side of the Bolinas-Fairfax road, but goes the opposite direction from this trail. I'd read about this area from the literarily luminescent Gambolin' Man, and I'd ran the Kent Lake portion of the trail before, but the rest was completely new. Pine Mountain Road is a well-traveled fire road, popular with bikers and hikers alike. I hit the trail around 8:45 in the morning, and apparently, this is a good hour to get started if you want to avoid the crowds. I saw exactly one other person on the Pine Mountain Rd section, with an off-leash (gasp!) dog. (Dogs are supposed to be leashed in this area, but I decided not to make a citizen's arrest. Whether I decided to unleash Neko or not is classified information.)

Anyway, Pine Mountain Road is definitely not singletrack, but it is a beautiful section of trail. The trail follows the ridge, and I could see both Mount Tamalpais and Mount Diablo when I turned around. Unfortunately, the light did not cooperate and the pictures I took of the view did not do it justice. You'll have to run this for yourself to see what I mean.

After a mile on Pine Mountain Rd, I took Oat Hill Road. I did not see any more people for the next hour and 45 minutes (yes, I was running slow today!), which for a Sunday in Marin is shocking. Oat Hill Road has plenty of other gorgeous views of the Bay and of the green hills of Marin, but the real jewel of this run (à mon avis, if you will) was Old Vee trail.

Normally, I'm pretty happy on the trails, and I challenge anyone to maintain any level of bitterness when running with an aussie/border collie mix-- but every once in a while there are trails that surprise me so much that I'm freakin' overjoyed to be me and getting to run on that particular trail at that moment. Old Vee was one of those trails. Old Vee doesn't look like Marin-- it looks like you're running in the Sierra foothills (which I desperately miss right now, I admit), and it's gently sloping fire road with a stream next to it, AND IT'S BEAUTIFUL!! So beautiful that I didn't take any pictures. Nice, Victoria. I think the other thing is that it's not a trail I've ever heard anything about, so having a little slice of Sierra-looking goodness may have seemed more fabulous than it actually was. Either way, I was loving life and trails and Marin and Neko and all things Spring down Old Vee.

From Old Vee, I hit the flat Alpine Kent Pump Road for a couple of miles, then the Little Carson trail. Because I couldn't determine from the map if the trail intersected the Carson Falls trail, I ended up turning up an unnamed trail that was so deserted I was getting rid of spider webs as I climbed. This trail was beautiful but very steep-- not so much running here. Next time I will definitely try the Carson Falls trail, because Carson Falls is supposed to be lovely, but I had a fun afternoon to get back to, so couldn't explore too much.

The unnamed trail met up with Oat Hill at the amusingly-named Bathtub Gap, where I snapped this picture of Neko and me before I realized she had a bunch of ticks on her-- the not-so-exciting part of spring with a border collie. Then it was back by way of Pine Mountain Road, but by this time, the hordes had started to swarm-- tons more people on this route by 10:30.

All in all, I was extremely glad I had gone. Next time, I'm taking Little Carson all the way up to the falls, fording the stream to get back up to the main trail if necessary. I'm pretty curious too, about taking Pine Mountain Road in a big loop that I could not find the end of on my map-- I think one could cobble together a pretty good 15-16 mile loop, but I would probably do the loop either very early or on a weekday, given the number of people on the trail by 10:30.

Overall? Lovely! Yay Spring! A nice last "mini-long" run before next weekend's (gulp) 50 miler!!

Dogs are supposed to be on leash, but there are definitely stretches of deserted trail....

A last note: the ceanothus is out right now-- big swaths of lavender-blue flowers in bloom. Don't miss it!


Jo Lynn said...

Something tells me then, that one little Border Collie was running free and having a wild time? ;)
Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing.

How are you feeling? Ready for Saturday? I wish you the best of luck my dear. I have no doubt you will ROCK IT! xoxoxo

Gambolin' Man said...

Great run, Victoria! And, as always, thanks for the plug for 'ol Gambolin' Man!