When I hit the trails on Sunday mornings, it's usually with my trail club, but I needed a change of scenery from the usual trails in the Santa Monica Mountains in preparation for my 2nd 50K coming up in two weeks. Enter Chantry Flats.
This is a run that I've done with my trail club around this time last year. Today's run just reaffirmed my decision that it was absolutely worth the 30-40 minute early morning drive up North East. I met up with my running buddy Lori at the base of the road up at 8:30ish and we got in one car to make the windy drive up the mountain.
The day's conditions turned out near perfect. The skies were clear, the temps were in the 60-70s, and while it was sunny out, we received ample shading from the trees. The planned run was one big loop around this huge adult playground ranging from 10-15 miles depending on how we felt.
The first 4 miles or so of the run was a steady climb of almost 1,500 ft in gain through a series of rolling single track roads. Definitely an arduous way to start off any run, but you were definitely engaged in the moment as it did get technical in parts. Since I was leading, I felt compelled to keep a steady pace going since Lori's such a strong distance runner. The first few miles definitely wiped me out some but the ascent just provided beautiful views of the green forest and mountains around us. I was definitely wowed.
Next came the fun part. For the next few miles, it was a slow but steady descent down the windy switchbacks where relief from the sun in the form of brush and trees were greatly welcomed. Other than a couple of points where we had to pull out the map to make sure we were heading in the right direction, we kept chugging right along. Under the canopy of trees, we were galloping alongside (and over) really beautiful streams, all the while continuing to chat away and exchanging pleasantries with hikers we passed along the way.
At around mile 8-9, we realized we were almost done as there was only one more steep climb up a paved road to lead us back to our car. There was however, an additional 4-5 mile route connecting back to the road we initially started up on. Feeling good and wanting to get a few more miles in, we opted to take the longer way back. Before we continued on however, Lori pointed to a red spot on my singlet. The culprit was the oh-so-dreaded bloody nipple. What?! This has never happened to me before and certainly not during <10 miles into a run. Odd.
Anyway, the last few miles did require some initial climbing and we both started to question our decision to the take the long way back. After a couple of miles of steady climbing, we were rewarded by a steady descent for the next ~2 miles which was back down the single track along the ridge of the mountain we started up on. Total for the day = 12.5 miles.
A hearty brunch followed at a nearby cafe with plenty of coffee, pancakes, omelettes...the works. Does it get much better than a morning of trail running followed by some stick-to-your-ribs breakfast food?