Saturday my alarm went off at 6:02 AM. Oh wait, no it didn't, I had it set for weekdays only. Pfft.. luckily, I woke up on my own at 6:18 with plenty of time to get to the trails for an early run.
I had all my stuff ready the night before, so I packed up and headed out.
I arrived at the trail around 7:20, about 5 minutes later than I had wanted to. I parked outside the park gate, took my key fob off my keys to take along with me, and finished putting my stuff together. I went to get out of the car and... my key fob was gone. I looked around for it, couldn't find it. I dumped out my purse, looked under every seat multiple times, and inside the glove box. I patted myself down head to toe. Nowhere. This continued for 20 minutes. I was convinced I was either losing my mind or that the black hole my mom always told me "lost" things disappeared to was actually real. I got in the backseat for a second time to check under the front seats from all angles. I used the flashlight on my phone. I couldn't get all the way under there so I took my hat off. Clank, clank on the pavement went my key fob, OUT OF MY HAT. What. The. Hell.
This is a true story. It's why I started my run in a crap mood and didn't get in as many miles as I wanted. It why I froze for the first hour of my run, because my adrenaline originally had me really warm so I left my arm warmers in the car. But all was not lost. Here's how it went.
Good morning, hills.
The trail head for this adventure is in a different town depending on who you ask (I said Bell Canyon because that's the closest label on the map to the trail head, Garmin named my run as if it took place in West Hills, and Google Maps says the coordinates for the trail head are in Calabasas). Either way, all you have to do is take Victory Blvd. west as far as it goes. It's only maybe a mile west of Valley Circle.
This is a really popular trail head for a few reasons I'm going to guess right now. It's not far from where people live. The trails are well maintained. The hills aren't very steep. But most of all - it's freakin' gorgeous. I had been to the trail head before when I volunteered for the Ahmanson 12k. At the time, my foot was in a lot of pain...but I thought I was still going to run the LA Marathon which was the next weekend.... (HA) so I didn't do any running.
It was 50º at the trail head at 7:45 but it felt more like 60 to me since I was in a panic only moments earlier. I had on just a t-shirt and running shorts, but with calf compression sleeves. I also had with me my UltrAspire vest packed with water, a clif bar, a clif shot block in black cherry (mmm), and my phone. I had no idea where I was going and had only briefly played with gmap-pedometer the day before and not really prepped by saving any directions, but I had my phone for a map and I started off down what could be assumed to be the "main trail," E Las Virgenes Canyon Trail.
East Las Virgenes Canyon Trail
The scene was beautiful and slightly eerie. It was freezing when I got into the Open Space. There was a lot of fog over everything but it was all so green. The hills south of the Valley don't get nearly this green, even after all the rain we have had. There was..... grass.
I chugged along down the path and loved the gentle hills. My legs were absolutely exhausted from the very beginning for no reason I could think of, and I was happy to not be doing an insane amount of climbing.
Less than a mile-and-a-half in, three trails converge: E Las Virgenes Canyon Trail, Laskey Mesa Trail, and a cut through to Ahmanson Ranch Trail and Mary Weisbrock Loop. I stayed on E Las Virgenes, which hits its southern-most point at around 2.5 miles from the trail head before cutting north and connecting with/becoming Upper Las Virgenes. Upper Las Virgenes starts at the (north) end of Las Virgenes Rd in Calabasas. On Strava, "Upper Las Virgenes" continues to Albertson Motorway in Simi Valley, but per Google/Garmin, it splits off into "Bell Canyon Fire Rd" at about mile 3.5 heading towards Simi. It was a little washed out and narrow in places to be much of a fire road, but who knows.
Bell Canyon Fire Road
A natural gas pipeline as well as a petroleum pipeline run through this area, so the dozens of signs alerting potential excavators kills the scenery only briefly.
I followed the fire road and started climbing. I'm currently in the middle of marathon training, and though my marathon will have some rolling hills, this was definitely not part of the "16-mile long run" I was supposed to be doing. This was all for fun.
I like hiking. I like hiking fast. Saturday was not my day for hiking. I was just totally exhausted and I'm not really sure why. I kept hiking anyway because my mind is well-trained to not tell my body that I should quit. It was just as good a mental exercise as a physical one. In addition to Lincoln, I have the Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon #2 coming up in about 4 weeks. My trail race strategy is to excel at hiking and running downhill. I can't run the flats as a fast enough pace to be competitive, but I can run downhill fairly well and I can pass people on the hikes as well.
I hiked until I thought I was at the top. I was rewarded with a spectacular view.
Obviously, I am joking. But at only 1690' what do you expect? I paused for a few minutes to eat my shot blocks because they had caffeine and I needed it and to rest my legs. I was only 6 miles and an hour and ten minutes into my run and I just felt so beat.
I turned around to run down and my energy picked up. It was a fun downhill run. I love running downhill! It's my favorite! I got back down to 1000' and the sun came out which was lovely for a bit, but it wasn't long before it disappeared again.
There hadn't been a soul in sight for my descent down Bell Canyon, and I had only passed a couple of stopped mountain-bikers on my way up. But as I got back towards the main loop, fellow runners and people doing other weird stuff emerged. I came across a couple doing yoga. Maybe you don't think this is weird, but they had separated themselves from each other by at least 50 yards and each onto a small hill in the trail. I found it very odd that they were doing like, serious yoga poses on the side of the trail and not together. I saw a runner turn onto a single track. At my mile 7.2 I made sharp right and headed northwest down the single track as well.
Sheep Corral Trail
The single track started out pretty flat, but it started climbing soon. I only took Sheep Corral Trail for about .8 miles before turning around. I wanted to see what it was all about but I had already gotten a late start so I needed to head back. I didn't see any sheep.
I continued back down Bell Canyon Fire Rd until I met back up with N Las Virgenes Canyon Trail and headed west twards the loop I had started on. I hooked up with E Las Virgenes at my mile 10.7 and 1030' and then E Las Virgenes began to climb back out of the open space towards the trail head. At where I had originally mentioned the three trails converge I came to a fork in the trail. I took the path on the right as to not go back the way I came. This cuts through to Mary Weisbrock Loop and Ahmanson Ranch House Trail. This quick loop peaks at 1390' and turns left to head back down to the trail head.
At some point I paused my Garmin to check to make sure I was still headed towards the trail head... it's not obvious. At least to me, I felt like I was going south, but I wasn't. Anyway, after my pause I forgot to start my Garmin again, so I lost half a mile which is one of the most annoying things ever.
The trail head was PACKED when I returned around 10:45. I had finished about 13.5 miles in around three hours, including the time I stopped to rest and hang out and take some photos.
I definitely love this spot. Here's a recap of why I love it.
Running in Australia
How to Volunteer at a Race
Running in NYC Part I
All my recaps
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