On Friday morning, I got to run trails again! I ran with my friend Bergen. We’ve never managed to run together before! I found a route in a hiking book (a great source of trail run ideas) at Windy Hill – one of the open spaces along Skyline Boulevard, which is basically the San Andreas Fault!
The plan was to start at the bottom of the hill in swanky Portola Valley. We’d follow Eagle Trail to Razorback Ridge, climb up to the top, take Lost Trail along the top and then plunge down Hamms Gulch Trail to the car again. We met up at 8.45 and set off cheerfully. We ran along the link trail to Eagle Trail and fairly soon came out on a road. Now my guidebook had said that Eagle Trail paralleled Alpine Road a little and sometimes there were stretches on the road so, both confident we saw a sign pointing us right, we set off, looking out for the trail off to the right.
It never came. We climbed and climbed and climbed. Once, we stopped to check our map and our phones but the map was too basic and the phones were useless. We thought we were on Alpine Road and knew that if we followed it to the top, we’d hit Skyline and we could rejoin the park there. Unfortunately, we weren’t on Alpine Road. (Back at home, I compared Garmin data with Google Maps and cannot find any trace of the road we took so I’m still clueless). We got to the top and came to a dead end with some grand houses and some grander dogs barking, so we turned tail and plunged all the way back down the hill.
When we got back to the trail, we decided to head up Hamms Gulch which was clearly signposted and do an up-and-down. So we started climbing again. Our legs protested but fairly soon they stopped moaning and we just worked our way up. There was more walking on this climb – each climb was about 1,100 ft so fairly significant. The trails were beautiful…really lovely. A nice gradient so very runnable and we wove through tree lined trails and open stretches of meadow and some lovely cool (cold) dells lined with damp ferns and with wet floors despite the drought! We were both VERY sweaty – the sweat collected charmingly under my chin. Most classy.
We got to the top and ran a short out-and-back to see the view. We felt we deserved the view.
The descent back down Hamms Gulch was gorgeous. I was very impressed with how far we’d run, to be honest! We discussed cake at great length as we plummeted downwards. Back at the bottom, we got back on the link trail back to the car park but the signposting let us down again and we ended up taking a mile-long diversion to Sursal Pond (small, green, unimpressive pond) and having to run/walk another mile back to the car. We were utterly shattered when we got back to the car.
I’d lured Bergen with the promise of 8 miles and one climb to Skyline. In the end, we ran 11.7 miles with two Skyline Climbs totaling 2,200 ft. I’m flipping lucky she didn’t hit me and even said she’d run again with me in the future! The trails were beautiful but fairly empty and remote, I wouldn’t run there alone so was hugely grateful for her company!
A quick aside…I wore my new Salomon trail shoes today. I thought 8 miles was a good testing distance. Luckily 11.7 miles was also fine. I like them. I can’t say I felt dramatically different to my road shoes but they were fine! Just as well….they’re well too dusty and dirty to send back!