The final stretch of my Backbone Trail adventure was this Sunday. If you haven't already read my first two posts, this was the third and final section of the Backbone Trail - a 68 mile trail that extends through the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers Park in Pacific Palisades to La Jolla Canyon near Point Mugu. My friend and I divided up the trail into 3 sections and completed them on three consecutive Sundays - part 1 was Will Rogers to Piuma Road (23 miles); part 2 was Piuma Road to Encinal Canyon Road (20 miles); and part 3 would be Encinal Canyon Road to La Jolla Canyon (25 miles - though it actually logged in at 28 but more on that later).
This final stretch was the farthest from my house and since we were dropping one car at the start and one at the finish, it required the most pre-hike commuting. The shorter days and our hike pace necessitated we have as much daylight as possible, so we opted to stay overnight in a nearby hotel, reducing our morning-of commute to only 45 minutes instead of nearly 2 hours.
The logistics of taking all my gear and SCD meals to a hotel for an overnight stay were more complex and so this post will go into how I prepared.
A week ago my friend and I hiked the first 23 miles of the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. We hiked for 9 hours from Will Rogers to Piuma Road as part of our goal to hike the entire 68 mile trail over 3 consecutive Sundays. In my first post, Backbone Trail Part 1, I wrote about all the type-A ways I prepared for the first 9 hour hike. This week, I'm discussing getting my body back to 'normal' and getting ready for Part 2 - Rinse, Recover, Repeat!
While hiking 68 miles over 3 days is my idea of a party, I realize I may be in the minority. Only a few of my very active friends would consider such madness, and only one actually said yes.
If you're reading this post, it's possible you are considering a similar extreme hike and if that's you I say, "Yes, yes yes, go for it! It's amazing and awful and you'll learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of". If that's not you though, maybe you are here for a different reason.
Either way, I hope this post will offer something for everyone and I am so glad you're here to read it.
,Backbone is a 68 mile trail that spans the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu near Malibu. Backbone is a stunning trail with a ocean views, tree canopies, dramatic boulders, creeks, and wildlife. It is well-maintained trails with mostly good trail signage (some areas not so much) and a few bathrooms/water fountains along the way. It is accessible from several canyon roads like Topanga, Kanan, and Latigo so an out and back hike can be an excellent option for someone wanting to explore just a few miles at at time.
Over the past few years, I've run and hiked much of the trail in these small bite-sized sections but have had my heart set on traversing the entire trail in a more methodical way. While I'd LOVE to do it all in one shot, a more realistic approach for me is breaking it up into 3-4 sections. That journey started yesterday, November 8, with the first 23 miles from Will Rogers to Piuma Road.
RESEARCH: Setting off on a 23 mile hike that would take a projected 9 hours and involve over 4000 ft of climbing, meant doing some research first. There are multiple resources for learning about this trail system including the National Park Service and the County of LA websites. I personally stopped by the Santa Monica Mountains Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch to buy the 3 Tom Harrison maps that I have pinned up on my wall, guide books, and to speak to a Park Ranger (as of 11/9 though they are still closed due to the pandemic). There are also multiple online blogs like Hikespeak and AllTrails.
In this post, I'm not going to recount the details of the trails, the views, or the terrain. As you can see above, there are plenty of resources for that and honestly, until you actually get out there, it's all a bit of an enigma. Instead I'm going to focus on what I packed and how I fueled my 9 hour hike following SCD principles - i.e. real food, no grains, no processed sugar.
The #GettingHigh tour continued this weekend on Santa Catalina, one of California's Channel Islands. Catalina Island is only about 76 square miles and is home to spectacular trails, including the Trans Catalina Trail (TCT), and 52 miles of coastline. It is a short boat ride from Los Angeles and an amazing getaway for those who seek nature with a few modern conveniences.
WHERE TO STAY IN CATALINA
Catalina Island has two main boat docks that are serviced by the Catalina Express. On the east side of the island is the well-developed city of Avalon with restaurants, hotels, shops, a botanical garden, and even concerts and festivals (during non-COVID times). It's
Sunshine has many benefits - increased Vitamin D production and mood enhancement, plus it may even prevent certain diseases like IBD. But too much of a good thing is never a good thing (yes, even when it comes to chocolate and money!). Overexposure to sun without proper protections can lead to skin damage and possibly cancer. This risk may be enhanced for people with IBD who have underlying immune disfunction and/or are on immunosuppressive medications.
I live and run in Los Angeles. Perpetual sun, air pollution, dust and pollen, poison oak lined trails, and IBD means skin protection is an essential part of my running health. Am I overly cautious? Maybe, but in the end I don't want to look 80 when I'm 50.
HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE SKIN SAVERS:
MY SILLY HAT! When I opened the Amazon package and revealed my wide brimmed, neck-caped hat, my teen daughter just about had a heart attack, and so did I as it was my first step in looking seriously uncool on the trails.
About the Gutsy Runner!
Lucie is a runner, hiker, and fitness coach who follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for her ulcerative colitis. She is currently on a year long birthday celebration that includes covering 2021 miles on foot and exploring some of the areas most iconic and beautiful trails. Read more