Posted by Scott Crellin on Sunday, January 11, 2015
Our first trail work outing of the new year was down in the Anza Borrego desert, near the tiny hamlet of Shelter Valley. Larry Pustinger, the RD for the Old West 50K, arranged for us to meet at the Shelter Valley Community Center at the same time that a local church group was cooking up a delicious free breakfast (thanks guys!). Of course, who better to appreciate a free meal than a bunch of ultra runners? Jared Gustafson, Madonna Bentz, Bud Phillips, Brian Gonzalez (RD for Lost Boys 50M and Noble Canyon 50K), Mary Lou Lackey, Edward Wang and Enrique Medina, filled out the crew roster.
After breakfast, we shuttled a couple of cars over to the Blair Valley area and met up with Jim Dascoulias (Road & Trails Emperor for Cuyamaca Rancho and Anza Borrego State Parks). He had with him another volunteer, also named Jim (sorry, I didn't get his last name). Our meeting spot was at a point where the old Butterfield Stage route used to climb over a low pass on its way to San Diego, back in the 19850s. The original stage route was, as you might expect, deeply eroded by more than 100 years of weather, so we blocked off the original route and restored/improved the trail bed on the official trail route (part of the Lost Boys 50M).
I have to admit it was a bit disorienting not having any ceanothus plants to kill. However, digging up rocks, chopping cholla cactus, and swapping stories with the other volunteers made for a fun day. Oh, and did I mention that it was a glorious winter morning? Check out the group pic in front of the historical marker, as well as one of yours truly on a nearby peak. The trail to my right in the photo is part of the old stage route as well as part of the Lost Boys course. Note also that we're styling the new Friend of the Trail running hats!
Post-work, we headed back to the Center for lunch, smoothed out with a bottle or two of Pale Ale or Obsidian Stout from Deschuttes Brewery. Thanks also to Madonna for the extra cookies!
Thanks to everyone on the crew today! The trail over the pass is greatly improved. The ground was nice and wet from the last storms so I should think we'll be getting a great wildflower show this spring.
Geezer Larry adds in: Today's crew completely disguised the old secret short cut used on Old West Trails training runs, and a vital passage for all "LOST BOYS". From over run with rocks, creosote brush, encroaching varieties of cacti, this historic trail was vigorously transformed into a genteel grade, virtually 'stumble' free as you run or hike up & over & down from Little Blair to Big Blair. The stagecoach teamsters of yesteryear would take great delight to have had this well groomed path to drive over. Park officials way out this a way continue to be supportive and appreciative of all the "magic" brought to bear from our running volunteers!
Keep Safe Out There.