About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed a few 100 milers and many other ultramarathon trail races and marathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Friday, June 17, 2016

Life in the Desert

The desert here in the Southwest has been teeming with life even though the mercury has soared into the triple digits. I’ve spent a lot of time running the trails in the Franklin Mountains State Park lately and have come across plenty of beauty as well as a few surprises. 

Eagle claw cactus
On one very long and scorching run, the eagle claw cacti were in full bloom. I’ve never seen so many splashes of purple along the trail. You hardly notice these inconspicuous barrel cacti at other times of the year because they blend in with the landscape and some barely protrude above the ground.  

As one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one man’s weed is another’s rose. Stinging cevallia has its own beauty especially if you observe it up close. 

Stinging Serpent (Cevallia)
I had quite a few surprises on another morning run following a night of thunder showers. I saw five snakes in about an hour's time. The first was a rattler, the second a western patchnose snake, the third and fourth were striped whipsnakes and the fifth was another rattlesnake stretch out across the trail. Whew! I was able to get pictures of most, but the whipsnakes usually bolt into the brush as soon as they see you. 

Patchnose snake
It has a large scale (patch) on its nose.

Another Rattlesnake

Gopher snake (Mt Cristo Rey, NM)
Earless lizard
Besides many snakes and lizards, I've also seen an abundance of birds including the Scott's oriole, Western kingbird, Gamble's quail, Common nighthawk, and Greater roadrunner. Cottontail and jackrabbits keep me company on the trails early in the morning and I was surprised to see so many ladybugs up at North Franklin Peak.

I believe this is a wren.
Western kingbird
Cottontail rabbit

Ladybugs at N. Franklin Peak

Lastly I spooked a few mule deer while approaching the West Cottonwood Spring early one morning. I felt bad because I know there are only a few places in these mountains where animals can get a drink. Despite the lack of water, life still thrives in the Desert Southwest. See you on the trail. 

"Are you talkin' to me!"
Watch video of ladybugs:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Jemez Mountain 50 Mile Trail Run

I look at my watch as I stop to catch my breath and let my heart rate slow down. This 10,400 foot mountain isn’t getting any lower and I’m not getting any younger so I better get a move on. I’m obsessed with my time today as I run the Jemez Mountain 50 Mile Trail Run. With over 11,000 feet of total elevation gain, it is one of the hardest 50 milers in the country. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cactus to Cloud 50K

Francois Jean Rochas is a true badass. Not because he is here with the rest of us to tackle the Cactus to Cloud 50K, a 32 mile journey from Oliver Lee State Park, through Dog Canyon, across the precipitous “Eyebrow”, up 5000 feet to the Sunspot National Solar Observatory and along the Rim Trail to Cloudcroft, NM with almost 9000 feet of total elevation gain. No, Francois or “Frenchy” as he was called, lived in a cabin in the late 1800s at the mouth of Dog Canyon, the starting point of our trail race this morning. 

Frenchy's cabin at the mouth of Dog Canyon

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cedro Peak 45 Miler

Cedro Peak (7767’) is located in the Cibola National Forest near Tijeras just east of Albuquerque, NM. I ran the Cedro Peak 45 mile course several years ago and am delighted to be here again for some fun on the trails. It is still dark and the weather is in the 50s this morning with a stiff breeze. It’s supposed to get gusty later with a slight chance of a shower, so I packed a rain shell just in case. I never want to be in the wilderness unprepared.

After leaving my drop bags with volunteers and checking in with race staff, I grab a cup of joe from the Green Joe Coffee Truck and sit in my warm car until race time. After the sun rises, about 50 ambitious trail runners line up at the Oak Flat picnic area. We start our run by winding through the picnic grounds and then descend a very steep rocky trail, but not before passing a lone picnic table. Not just any picnic table, but the one we will reach after climbing back up this hill in mile 44 later this afternoon. If my recollection is accurate, something special will be waiting for us here upon our return. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Comanche Trail Palo Duro Canyon

Last month I spent a few days at Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, TX where I ran out to the famous Lighthouse rock formation. 

Read about it here: Lighthouse Run

View from the Comanche Trail
I also ran part of the newly built Comanche Trail which, according to  a park ranger, is about six miles one way. The Palo Duro Trail Run is held every October and volunteers have been building more trails to eliminate some of the loops in the 50 mile course. The current 50 miler is 12.5 miles repeated four times. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bataan Memorial Death March 2016

After waking up at zero dark thirty the morning of the Bataan Memorial Death March, I opened my back door to let the dogs out. Well, I was hit by a blast of wind that took my breath away. Spring in the Desert Southwest can bring wicked wind storms and this is the only place I’ve ever lived where “blowing dust” is an actual weather forecast. The strange thing is that the forecast for this morning wasn’t calling for high winds. Nevertheless, our mountains create their own weather at times bringing the worst conditions to run in.

The great plant hunter and explorer of Tibet, F. Kingdon Ward said it best, “It is this wind which makes life on the plateau…so unbearable. It has a cumulative nervous effect; possibly its action is electrical, due to the constant friction of dry air. I do not know. I only know that it is slow torture; you are waging a losing fight all the time, up against something which gradually, but no less surely and ruthlessly beats you. It makes no terms; it is war à l’outrance.”

Organ Mountains— White Sands Missile Range

Friday, March 18, 2016

Palo Duro Canyon Lighthouse Run

Last week I had the great pleasure of running in Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Panhandle of Texas. As I was driving, I couldn’t help but think, is this the right way? There is nothing out here but grass and cotton fields speckled with oil pump jacks. The roads don’t have a single turn anywhere because there is nothing but flat, flat and more flat so how can the Grand Canyon of Texas be around here.