Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sitton Peak

Today I ran to the Sitton Peak with Linda, Andy, Jim and Oline. We parked next to the Candy store on Ortega highway and started off on the same Morgan trail we did before. It was pretty chilly this morning – around 50 degrees – and windy too. We were all wearing long-sleeve shirts – except for Oline who was wearing a t-shirt. The rest of us regretted wrong clothing decision almost right after we registered at the trailhead.

Usually morning chill goes away slowly (or at least gradually) during the first hour or so. But this time it was different. Right after we hit the switchback ascent the temperature abruptly jumped from 50 to 80. At least it felt that way. It was like someone switched on a gigantic heater and turned off the wind, or as if we ran through some door into a heated room. We passed two or three more areas with the cool air but the temperature stayed pretty much up since then. The amazing thing is that this change happened in a matter of seconds.

Around 1.2 miles into the Morgan trail we turned right onto the Bear Canyon / Sitton Peak trail. It has a lot of small uphills and downhills, but in general it is pretty flat. Nevertheless those uphills wore me down pretty quickly for some reason and I had to walk several sections of the ascent. At the same time Jim ran pretty much all the way to the top – I could hardly get a shot of him as all I could see was his back – and even that mostly from quite a distance :)

The most exciting part was the final climb to the Sitton peak – it totally exceeded my expectations. The whole segment is about 0.4 miles long (or even less than 0.3 miles if we subtract a small flat section in the middle of the climb) with 410ft of elevation gain. With all due respect to my favorite Meadows ascent, I have to say that compared to Sitton climb Meadows does not feel like a climb at all.

The 360-degree view from the Sitton Peak above the cloud blanket covering Orange County was absolutely breathtaking as if rewarding us for inhumanly steep climb we had to do to get there.

We found a journal on the peak – right at the triangulation marker on the very top of it. Some guys wrote there that the only thing they had to regret about was they did not take any beer with them. I could only second their opinion.

As much as I love descents, going down from the peak was even less fun than going up. Let alone running was out of the question, I had to walk slowly leaning on boulders and carefully watching every step. Due to small gravel the trail was extremely slippery and despite I was moving slowly I still almost felt a couple of times. The outsole of my North Face Arnuva shoes, which usually provides enough traction on technical trails, felt as if it were absolutely flat and smooth providing almost no grip at all.

The distance from the Candy shop to the Sitton Peak is about 5 miles, which makes it 10 miles out and back. As we got back to Ortega, we went to the Candy store. It is a very neat little place featuring a lot of candies indeed and an ancient-looking fire truck in front of it. The store also has a big fridge with cold drinks, and the latter was the only thing I could think about for the last couple of miles of our run after I ran out of my Gatorade. The Snapple ice tea I got there was arguably the best Snapple I ever tasted in my life :)

More photos from our run:

Sitton Peak, Nov-07


Anonymous said...

so did you guys write something into the journal, too? i bet you forgot the pen! but then you never know.

Dmitri said...

There were 3 pens in the can :)

We wrote our names in there with a comment that the view was totally worth the climb - I was not aware yet that the downhill will be even more challenging :)

I also drew a skeleton in running shoes (not to be seen by medical students, artists and designers), and wrote under it that we should have taken more water with us.