Thursday, May 22, 2014

003 - Renald and Checkers

Trail Portrait 003 - Renald and Checkers

I typically run the Pleasanton Ridge trails on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, however, my daughter's softball team had a playoff game on Monday, so I adjusted this week's running schedule to Tuesday and Thursday. I got a late start today because of a hectic day of work, starting my run at 6:45 PM, but it made for a wonderful experience. One of the nice things about running later in the day is the Pleasanton Ridge is less traveled and therefore, quieter and more peaceful. I enjoy the solitude on my solo trail runs.

In the late afternoon, the climb up the east-facing side of the ridge is largely in the shade because the sun is blocked by the ridge itself. However, as once one reaches the top of the ridge, one is greeted with the bright afternoon sun, bathing the ridgeline with warm, orange light. It's always a treat to pass through the wooden gate near the top of the ridge and be surprised with such a beautiful scene.

My seven mile, weekday route takes me to a bench on the hill, which overlooks the city of Pleasanton. As I climbed the last little section before the bench, I met Renald (Ronald?) and his dog, Checkers, sitting on an ATV. I asked if he was a ranger and he said, "no, sheep" and pointed to the sheep grazing on the hills in the distance. Renald is a modern day shepherd, riding a four-wheeled ATV instead of a two-legged horse, and in my opinion, he has the coolest job around. The sheep graze the Pleasanton Ridge park lands from late March through May. Today, the sheep were grazing on one hill and tomorrow, Renald and Checkers will move the sheep to another hill to graze.

English probably isn't Renald's native tongue and our communication was somewhat challenging, however, I enjoyed my short chat with him today. If I'm lucky, I'll bump into Renald and Checkers again before this year's grazing season is over -- if not, I'm sure I'll see them next spring in the hills of Pleasanton.

22 May 2014
Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park
Pleasanton, California

I didn't get a photo of the sheep today, but here's a picture of the herd from my run last week.


Monday, July 15, 2013

002 - Stefano

Trail Portrait 002 - Stefano by Wayne-K
Trail Portrait 002 - Stefano, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I will be pacing my friend Faye at the Leadville 100 in five weeks. In preparation for the race, we traveled to Yosemite National Park for a training run at Tuolumne Meadows. We started at the trail head at the Tuolumne Meadows ranger station and proceeded down Lyell Canyon, along the famous John Muir Trail. After six flat miles through the canyon, we passed Evelyn Lake and headed toward the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp. At the 12 mile point, we reached Vogelsang. I’m recovering from a knee injury, so the plan was for me to take it easy and hike the remaining seven miles back to the trail head. Faye headed off in the opposite direction to extend her run by an additional two hours. While she ran, I took a leisurely walk back to Tuolumne, relaxing, and enjoying the beautiful views.

While hiking back to the trail head, I had the pleasure of meeting Stefano. I saw Stefano carrying a fishing rod and asked if caught any fish. He caught one fish, which I thought was great because just relaxing at the river is a wonderful thing and catching anything is a bonus. Besides, a “bad” day of fishing is much better than a good day at work!

Stefano is visiting from Switzerland and will be spending a total of four days in the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides hiking and fishing in Tuolumne Meadows, he planned on climbing a granite hill (not too big), swimming in Tenaya Lake, and visiting Yosemite Valley (on Monday, when it wasn’t as crowded). Stefano seems like my type of person, one who would travel thousands of kilometers to California to enjoy the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains, fishing in the cool, flowing rivers, and experiencing the beautiful National Park. He even had a nice Canon G10 camera, which I’m sure he used to capture the beauty around him.

Stefano, it was a pleasure meeting you yesterday. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday in California and a safe return trip home.

14 July 2013
Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite National Park, CA

Here are additional photos from our trail run.

Start of the Trail

Start of the trail.

Trail Runner

Faye leading the way down the trail.

Tuolumne - Faye

Faye taking a mandatory photo break on the bridge (with a wonderful view in the background).

Tuolumne - Wayne

Handsome young chap modeling the Ultimate Direction SJ ultra running vest.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

001 - Faye

Trail Portrait 001 - Faye by Wayne-K
Trail Portrait 001 - Faye, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I volunteered at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run this past weekend and I cannot think of a better venue to begin my Trail Portraits project. The WS100 web site says it best:

“The Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run is the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail race. Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the world.”

I helped staff the “Rucky Chucky Near” aid station, which is the famous river crossing at mile 78. The runners cross the chilly American River, while the volunteer “Cable Guys” stand in the water, holding the cable and helping ensure the safety of the runners. The front runners arrive at mile 78 around 5 PM, with the rest of the runners arriving throughout the night until the 5 AM cutoff.

For my first portrait, I’m thrilled to introduce Faye. This portrait was taken at the Rucky Chucky river crossing. Faye is no stranger to the local trail running community, having run several ultra-marathon distance races, paced local runners in races, and volunteered at many events. Faye is also no stranger to me. I first backpacked with Faye and her parents back in 1996, and there is no one on this planet that has spent more time with me on the trails over the years. For that reason, I am pleased to kick-off my trail portraits project with her photo.

29 June 2013
Western States 100
Near Auburn, CA

Here are a few more photos from the 2013 Western States 100.

Western States 100 - River Crossing at Mile 78

The front-runners were boated across the river. Once the river level lowered later in the night, the runners crossed it on foot.

Pam Smith at the River Crossing

Pam Smith, the eventual women's champion, being boated across the river.

Rucky Chucky River Crossing

Volunteers staffing the cable as runners crossed the American River.