View from the newly planted trees' perspective, downtown LA to left
I had an opportunity to join with a group of about 30 volunteers to go to the top of the Verdugo Mountains and plant some trees in and around the Experimental Forest on January 10th.
I helped plant three Coulter Pines also known as Big Cone Pines (Pinus coulteri) on the side of a fire road that runs along the crest of the Verdugos. They happen to have the largest pine cones of any pine (see here). These beautiful trees will look down on a fantastic panorama that includes downtown Los Angeles and the ocean!
Since these trees grow about 1 foot per year, I look forward to coming back regularly and seeing the progress. A big thank you to the City of Glendale's Dave Moreno and Jeff Weinstein for hosting the event.
Sir Edgar, BFT (me) and Roger Klemm after planting (if you look closely, you can see my FeelMax shoes with 1mm sole I am testing)
Today I wanted to test a new material that I am very impressed with, i.e., aluminum cut from a beer can which I glued directly to the rubber with Rhino Glue.
I used the aluminum washer to repair breaks on an earlier pair of test huaraches. It held for nearly 10 miles of very steep hiking/running.
The strength of the bond of the aluminum to the rubber was better than any other material that I tested. Unfortunately, the way I made the washer, or the thinness of the aluminum, caused it to fail after climbing up an extremely steep, loose-graveled trail.
Verdugo Mountains Training Run - A Little Bit of Everything
Today's run had a little bit of everything:
Got in about 12 miles wearing huaraches, 8 miles barefoot and 5 with FiveFingers. The weather was perfect, hot but not too hot with winds blowing storm clouds in at the horizon.
Barefoot Freedom (at Experimental Forest)
Barefoot Freedom 2
Huaraches, Rock and Agave
FiveFingers Rail Walking (video below)
There are SO MANY great trails around here. I am looking forward to introducing more (but not TOO MANY) to this wonderful mountain playground we have in our backyards, with full-size cats to boot. These mountains deserve an ultramarathon. Winter 2008, let's make the first Verdugo Mountains 50 Miler.
Proposed Course: Start at Village Christian School go to Brand Library and on the way go down and up all the side trails.
Although it does not look like a big deal, that rail is razor thin at the top. I just could not resist that background and my new joy of balancing. Music by Deep Purple
So, I have been mentioning for over a year now how I am regularly finding mountain lion tracks on my runs, and a couple weeks back I caught my first glimpse of a local lion. Well, yesterday, I went a step further...I found a victim of the moutain lions, or should I say, I found the leftovers of a meal, a full grown deer. Click here to see the exact location on Google Maps. Amazing.
The video above shows me finding the bones as I find them. I was filming a new trail that I was on. I was following deer trails that criss-cross the hills near where I live. I finally got on a ridge and was heading towards the summit of a hill. Then I literally stumbled upon the scene where a deer met its fate. No corporation or government was involved. Nature 101.
After finding the bones, I decided to bring the antlers home. Its life was not in vain. It lived free until it died and its skull serves as a symbol of the wild mountains that surround us here in Los Angeles, wild mountains that invite us to share in the beauty and mystery of nature...if you can muster the courage to venture into them.
This is the ONLY mountain lion sign I have seen in the Verdugo Mountains. It is at the entrance of the Whiting Woods Trail.
Sign Reads: Mountain lions are important members of the natural community and may be found in this area. Although these animals are seldom seen, they are unpredictable and have been known to attack without warning.
Keep children close, as mountain lions seem to be especially drawn to them. Avoid hiking alone. Make plenty of noise while you hike so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.
New addition to my new place, look in loft window...see? (added Sept. 30, 2008):
Amazing weather today with temperatures in the 80s and clear skies. Catalina Island could clearly been seen along with Mount Wilson.
Idea for an Event: CATALINA ISLAND to MT. WILSON
1. Swim (or kayak) 22 miles across the channel then run to the top of Mt. Wilson (using Pier to Point course) about 70 miles. Any takers?
Panorama showing Mt. Wilson on left and Catalina Island on right
Now for the FUN STUFF:
Well, today did about 25 miles in the huaraches and did find a problem that I had been noticing, but today made clear -- sweating in the huaraches is not easy to do, for once the foot starts sweating, especially on a steep, long downhill, the dirt on the foot begins to turn to mud which in turn becomes slippery...does not feel good.
Firstly, in the morning, I did some running with all the students in Students Run LA at the Hansen Dam 18 mile Friendship Run. Then it was off to the mountains.
Started at La Tuna Canyon up the Hostetter Fire Road to the VerdugoMtwy over to the Whiting Woods Trail. Whiting Woods in quite steep and long. Today was the first time I went all the way to the bottom only to find no public water at the trail head. I made my way over to a local park, Crescenta Valley Park, to get water and clean-up a little before heading back.
I had to clean my foot off at the end of one very step nearly 5 mile downhill; otherwise, I would have had an accident, for when the sandal is slippery, you are prone to the one common (easily fixable) malfunction: breaking the strap at the toe or pulling it loose.
Otherwise the sandals performed well. Heat is definitely something I have not had a chance to test these in. Apparently rubber is a conductor of heat, not an insulator, so heat can start to build up which could be an issue in the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon. More testing required.
Note: Did some road running today, Monday, in the heat. Found some of the same problems with excess sweating starting to be a problem. I have to figure out a way to keep the foot dry. Any suggestions?
Another very positive test of my huaraches in a real world setting. Today I put in nearly 20 miles in the Verdugo Mountains which are just North of Burbank, CA with downtown LA in the background.
I did some Google Map researching last night and found some overgrown fire trails that I had not been on before, so I decided to give them a try. This fire road ran along the ridge of some treacherous mountains with crazy steep uphills and downhills. As I ran I got a bunch of coyotes unhappy with me. They started whining which got others whining in adjacent canyons. Quite a stir. They must of thought I was a predator.
No on had been here for a long time.
One highlight of the run was finding and photographing a Bobcat sitting in the grass. I had to use the digital telephoto on my camera, but I got several shots of him. See below.
Which leads me to mention what I saw last night at Hansen Dam. Yep, I saw a mountain lion. Fastest animal I ever saw in nature. Luckily, he was not running at me, but not exactly away either. He was pissed that I had seen him. He may be the one that was spotted a couple months ago near here. The lasting impressions I have are FAST animal, low to the ground and very long tail. All happened in a fraction of a second. I turned around and started heading home.
He's there, but you can't see him. Bobcat close-up: 34°13'29.10"N | 118°19'59.89"W
In the end , I did have to repair the huaraches once during my run at about mile 16. As I was crossing a stream, my foot got slippery and slide to the side of the sandal. The sandals had loosened up a little during the run and I had not bothered to adjust them. As I slid, I put enough force to pull the knot loose. Took less than 3 minutes to repair.
Huarache Experiment Continues - 20+ miles in the Verdugos
20+ miles in the Verdugos without problems with my huaraches. I am training for the upcoming Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon on March 4th in Mexico. This year I plan on wearing the same footwear that the local runners will be wearing. I made my decision about a month ago, but as of today, I am totally confident that I will be able to cover the entire 47+ mile race course wearing only huaraches.
Running in Nature is SpiritualHere's some of what I saw today running near my home in Los Angeles
Looking HomewardMy Path
Vegetal ExplosionRocky RoadRock Feast
My chickens don't seem to mind my dirty feet.
Today's test went exceptionally well. The sandals are still intact after 8 miles of hard mountain trail hiking/running. At first I was worried about the performance of these sandals since the sole seems a bit thinner than the Raramuri racing sandals. Yet, they seemed to do the job. My feet did not feel confined. My foot was able to flex and move naturally. Feet were pain free on toughest sections of the trail.
An attempt a video of the downhill run. Poor quality.
As mentioned last week, I received some rubber sole material from Peter, Vibram sole designer. I quickly made a pair of Raramuri-style huaraches. The sole on these sandals is quite thin, just 5mm which makes them much lighter (about 4 ounces) than my truly authentic, Manuel Luna produced, huarache sandals and significantly more flexible.
I took them out on a 10+ mile hike-run in the mountains above Burbank, California. Today was quite clear. The ocean could be seen in the distance along with Catalina Island, Griffith Park and Downtown LA. The sandals performed perfectly. I think I am getting addicted.
My goal is to wear a pair of huaraches during the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon on March 4th in Urique, Mexico. The race is nearly 50 miles on mountain roads, so I am doing all I can to prepare. These modified sandals may be the answer.
I have much more testing to do with these sandals, but today was a huge success. I did not need to constantly adjust these sandals. They stayed snug the entire journey. I did not get any hotspots or blisters. My feet are getting used to the leather straps. I do not like the feeling I get when I sweat a lot in these, so I plan on trying to add a rice straw or hemp top cover.
These really are the most elegant solution to portable ground that I have found. With only one small strap of leather coming up over the top of the foot, rocks and pebbles do not get stuck, they just roll out. Indigenous design at its best.
More tests are necessary. Perhaps a slightly stiffer rubber would be better.
Downtown LA in Background (middle left) and Griffith Park (middle right)
How things look from the top of the Verdugo Mountains above Burbank.
Spent the last two days testing out a newly modified pair of Vibram FiveFingers that I plan on using during the upcoming Angeles Crest 100. I sent in my check today, so I am official.
Saw two deer on this run, one yesterday. Yesterday I also saw one of the largest rattlesnakes I have ever seen in these local mountains. He was extremely calm at my approach. When you're a big snake, you don't have much to worry about. Beautiful to behold.
I have custom modified my FiveFingers. I am still testing them to determine if I have come with a real solution for some of the moisture problems I have had in runs over 30 miles in hot weather.
I thought that I was going to do a back-to-back weekend again, but yesterday's 26 miles proved to be more than enough.
I decided to do a course that leads from Village Christian School in Sun Valley, up and over the Verdugo Mountains to Brand Library in Glendale, and back.
I decided to bring my special sandals along to test in some of the harsher parts of the course, but ended up barely using them at all. My special sandals have a serious design flaw...rocks get under the foot too quickly...really irritating.
Ran into deer a couple times on this run. Started at 6:30 am. I have often seen deer tracks, but today was the first time to actually see them in these mountains.
This course has a little of everything, starting with some rather steep single-track, followed by a long, long climb. The killer is the 5 mile descent to Brand Library, a descent that has to be reascended!
It remained fairly overcast most of the run. The biggest problem came after I stubbed my toe on a rock coming up the Brand Library climb. My feet were getting a bit tender, especially as I started to descend the last 7 miles. Those were tough miles. I thought I would make it easier with the Foxy Feet™ sandals, but rocks would quickly get stuck under my feet in the sandals, so back to bare.
I think that the trick with sandals is that they have to be tight against the foot, with no play where rocks can get in.
Somehow I made it back. Can you believe, it took me 6:44 to run 26 miles! That was a hell of a long time, but in the end, I think it was a great training run.
This was one hell of a race. 7 miles straight up on rocky, tight switchback trails. Did it barefoot, of course. In the photo below, the astonishment of the other runners is evident as I take off for the summit.
Placed 3rd overall.
1. Sven Haug – 8:26 am
2. Vince Arant – 8:33 am
3. Ted McDonald – 8:34 am
4. Steve Lallogg – 8:35 am
5. Jon Pedder – 8:39 am
6. Jerry Lile – 8:43 am
Barefoot Ted's Adventures
817 5TH AVE N
Seattle, Washington 98109
Barefoot Ted from "Born to Run" is an independent athlete committed to re-discovering primal human capacities and encouraging others to do the same. (bio)(contact)