Saturday, March 23, 2013


Hair Ice
I've been running on trails for a number of years now. And I carry my iphone often on trails to take photos when the mood strikes. After collecting a number of photos, I'm make a PuddleThumper Wall Calendar which is a very nice thing to have at work in my little cube with florescent lighting. It does take a while to collect enough photos for an entire year's spread.

So whenever I run on trails, I'm always on the lookout for interesting shots, interesting features, lighting, foliage, etc. This morning I spotted a feature out on trails that I have only ever seen once before and stopped me in my tracks.

I was running with a new gal and we were chatting and having a fine ol' time on the trails. She's not new to trail running but hasn't been out there in a while and didn't know these trails too well.  I made sure to stop us at various trail intersection and have her map where we were.  hey, it's how I learned!  And I'd mentioned that I'd stop us if i needed to take a photo.

We are running along downhill along Tibbet's marsh Trail on Cougar Mountain. A nice trail which has the distinction for me of everytime i run on it, the sun comes out.  I happened to spot a downed smaller branch which what looked like a white fabric or white paper on it.


Hair Ice or Silk Frost! That's it, That's it!  I've seen it just once before in similar conditions.

Those conditions:
  • Freezing temps
  • No wind
  • Recent wind storms which knock down branches 
Now it was above freezing when we were running through but I'm sure the temps would've have been below (probably not by much) on this protected area on a downhill area overnight. I saw some other bits of silk frost before I stopped that looked a bit melted which i thought were a type of fungus or mushroom. This one was still intact.  

How does this happen?  Frost is deposited on surfaces from moisture in the air. That is not what happens in this case. So Hair Ice is a better term. Moisture within the wood is supercooled and is forced out from exposed wood (the bark of the wood has been compromised) in distinct hairs that stay separate.  Spectacular!

And like usual, the sun came out as we were running down Tibbet's Marsh Trail.  8 easy miles feeling good and ready for a long run on roads tomorrow.  Always take time to stop and look at the Hair Ice if you are lucky enough to spot it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Joshua Tree

It was a very quick trip to Palm Springs. we had just two full days and I wanted to make sure we got out to see Joshua Tree National Park which was just about an hour's drive from Palm Springs. We'd woken to pleasant temperatures but it was very windy. However once we were about ready to go running, the wind magically died down.  Perfect! another pleasant run in summer (for us!) temps made me very happy.

Then off to Joshua Tree. To drive there, we went right through the area of wind farming in the Coachella Valley. This was really an impressive site and contains more than 4000 windmills of various sizes. Some are huge! If we ever get back there, i'd love to do one of the tours that they offer for the area.  Joshua Tree area is tucked up onto a high valley just northeast of Palm Springs. altitude! and it was definitely cooler and still rather windy in the area.

Bizarre!  Really that's the only way to describe Joshua Tree. Go.See.It. We just did some easy hikes and marveled about the whole strange alien landscape.

Monday, March 18, 2013

And take a Winter Break

On the Lykken Trail
Keeping training during the winter fun also requires a break from Winter. Woohoo! I consider myself very lucky that we can usually take a quick trip to somewhere sunny and warmer.

This year's break was to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday. I chose Palm Springs as the destination for a lot of reasons. It is easy and cheap flights via Ontario airport. it's a smaller location and one i was curious about seeing. I'd only driven through and done the tram when i was a teenager. And I thought it would be fun to go back to the southern California area for my mom and I. She lived in Southern California for over 50 years and hadn't been back. and the chances of it being sunny and warm were great! I also wanted to see Joshua Tree National Monument and get in some trail running if possible.

It was a good choice and we lucked out with the weather.  I'd found a good deal on a 2 bedroom suite with a kitchen that was roomy and comfortable and opened onto a shared pool and jacuzzi area. We had quick and easy flights and an easy drive, a quick stop at my favorite In-n-Out Hamburger (not in Washington State) and arrived in Palm Springs late Saturday. No jacket needed as we were moving into our room.

Museum Trail view of Palm Springs
I'd done my homework so next morning i woke up a bit earlier than I would've liked and went to check out the trails in the hillsides next to Palm Springs.  The San Jacinto Mountain take off straight from the Coachella Valley floor and rise to over 10,000 feet.  Yes there are taller mountains but evidently these mountains are among the steepest in the US. I'd planned on 7-8 miles with a few on the roads and then trying to make a loop up in the hills. I carried some water and a gel and knew the trails would be rocky and more like hiking when going up. It was warm too at about 60 degrees when i started and knew that with the sun out (Yay!), it would get warm quick.

Following the white marks...
I chose to go straight up the Museum Trail (yes accessed behind the Museum) and it did not disappoint. It went straight up and immediately there were great views. I steadily climbed stopping every once in a while to take photo. It's less than a mile up but a total calf burner! I passed a few others out for a hike and did see a guy who was running up the trail as well.  He caught up to me and we stayed together then chatting a bit as he showed me the way. The trail was marked with white spots on rocks but there were lots of different ways to go.

Dave from LA came out here quite frequently to run trails.  As we made it to the top, he let me know that he'd just set a record 18 minutes up the trail (it's about a mile) and was pretty happy about that. Evidently he and a friend keep track ad try to best each other with time and as we all know, chasing someone (me in this case) and running with someone (me!) always helps! Dave was very helpful. I asked some specific questions about which trail would work best for me once we were at the trail junction and on his recommendation took a left turn instead of a right turn and headed down the South Lykken Trail instead of the North Lykken Trail. Good choice as it was runnable downhill and just really enjoyable.  

Once back down onto the roads, I was whooped. I'd finished my gel and my water and still had a few miles to get back to where we were staying.  And it was vaguely uphill and warming up. It was all good though. Sunny and warm and so different than conditions ever in Seattle.

After a tasty breakfast, we went out to explore Palm Springs a bit but were back to our rooms for the afternoon with the idea of just hanging out in and around the pool.  I took a nap pool side and had a lot of fun splashing about in the water. Mom did too.  Wonderfully relaxing and I slept like a rock that night.