A Chance Encounter at Montana de Oro

I was visiting my in-laws in Paso Robles for Father’s Day weekend, so decided to treat myself to some new trails this weekend.  I printed the 25K course map for the Pacific Coast Trails Montana de Oro event and drove to Montana de Oro State Park early Sunday morning.

Spring poppies

The name Montana de Oro, or “Mountains of Gold,” was inspired by the abundance of Orange Bush Monkey flower, but the mountains are a cornucopia of Indian Pink, Indian Paintbrush, Yarrows, Buckwheat, Lupins, Deerweed, and other varieties.

The 1200-ft. climb from Spooner’s Cove to Valencia Peak is two miles long at an average incline of 14.1°.  A third of it is loose Monterey Shale (rock) and the first ridge is entirely exposed.  The view of Valencia Peak reminded me of the scenes from the Road Runner cartoon or How The Grinch Stole Christmas where the narrow trail spirals up the mountain until it reaches the pointed top, which I reached in a leisurely half hour.  I signed one of the hiker’s log books with a Father’s Day message.

Spooners CoveAlmost two hours into my run I had not yet found the Hazard Peak Trail.  I found myself winding my way back to Spooner’s Cove.  Entirely by chance, I met three runners coming down the same Valencia Peak Trail I had completed about 45 minutes earlier.  One of them was Luis Escobar, who will be running the Western States 100 for the 8th time this weekend.  He has also completed Badwater, Hardrock, HURT and numerous other ultras.  He’s also an accomplished photographer.  Go to www.allwedoisrun.com and check out Luis’ account of the rarely photographed Tarahumara people in the Urique and Batopilas Canyon region of the Copper Canyon, state of Chihuahua, in northern Mexico.  Very cool stuff.

Luis invited me to a 50K/50-mile run his running group is putting on at this location the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This is a new venue for the Santa Barbara 9 Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run, chosen after the recent fires in Santa Barbara.  I’ll be sure to promote it with my running club.

I took this chance encounter as the reason I was not supposed to find Hazard Peak Trail (although I did finally find it a half mile from where I parked as I left the park).  Some of the best moments in running are the serendipities along the trail.
 
Bluff TrailLuis and his buddies were meeting family members so we parted ways at the parking lot.  I was running out of time with a 45-min. drive back to Paso Robles.  Luis said the Bluff Trail was not very interesting.  It’s very flat, but I didn’t have time for Hazard Peak.  I’m glad I ran the bluff.  I stopped many times to take photos, listen to the big waves crash, and enjoy the moment.
Advertisements