How did BJ end up rolling down the rock-strewn mountain? Let’s find out.
The Lost Boys 50 Mile Trail Run course is already among the toughest in the region. A point-to-point trail foot race, starting at about 1,000 foot elevation in the Anza-Borrego desert topping off at Cuyamaca Peak at 6,512 feet and ending at Lake Cuyamaca. The course has about 9,000 feet of cumulative climbing.
Believe it or not, we have been looking for ways to make the race even tougher! We have a few thoughts in the Cuyamacas including adding in Stonewall peak among other potential options. Included in that brainstorm is an alternate first five miles. Currently runners skirt around the foot of Sunset Mountain, trending uphill on the dirt road in Pinyon Wash.
Pinyon Wash: The traditional start of the Lost Boys 50.
In studying the maps we’re considering an alternate start, one that will add more varied topography and of course more climb! We decided to scout-out the shoulder of Sunset Mountain, and this past weekend BJ and I (Brian the RD) looked into the following potential start option:
We headed up Quartz Vein Wash and were immediately impressed at the interesting twists and turns of the route and the cool looking hillside. It’s reminiscent of the wash after the Boulders aid station, yet with it’s own unique feel.
Brian and BJ at the start of Quartz Vein Wash, exploring an alternate start to the LB50.
Quartz Vein Wash, we thought was pretty cool!
After weaving uphill and through some pretty cool stretches of Quarts Vein Wash we came to an impassible tall dry waterfall. We paused and stared at the obstacle for a bit and realized we could not send the runners up this thing. BJ was the first one to speak and asked something like, “so that’s it then…right… it’s not going to work?…”
‘There’s got to be a way around this, let’s see if we can find it’ I thought to myself, then vocalized the same. So we were on to true exploration.
We backtracked a short distance and started up a side-shoot wash. It was fairly passable at first, then the rocks became more loose and the grade became more steep. We pressed on eventually scrambling on all fours with loose rocks tumbling beneath every step. About half way up we surveyed the climb and BJ helped me conclude we couldn’t send runners up this thing. But since we were already there, we decided it wasn’t too insurmountable for us. So, we pressed on to the top, checked the view and returned down to the main Quarts Vein Wash.
BJ on the first side-shoot wash we explored.
Brian on the first side-shoot we explored.
This first side-shoot wash didn’t work so we headed back down.
We backtracked further and I saw a small slit along the side wall of the main wash. I said, “This doesn’t look like much, but let’s check it out.” I expected this small wash to end a few feet later. To my surprise the narrow wash continued after every twist and turn. This side-shoot wash turned out to be a sweet narrow slot canyon. Very ascendable and super fun! Halfway up I said “there is no course like this… in California.” After we passed through the narrow slots we climbed up a short scree field to a crest of the mountain side. It was a rugged climb, a bit of loose rock, but I thought potentially passable. Did we find the new alternate Lost Boys 50 start? Humm.
BJ headed up the cool Quarts Vein slot canyon.
RB Brian, hopeful that we had found a slot canyon that could work.
Once on top, I hoped we had found it but technically knew the approach wasn’t really safe. I delayed asking BJ his opinion because I wanted to relish in the hope. I turned to BJ and asked, “what do you think?”Correctly he replied, “Sorry Gonz, it’s not going to work this way.”
Shoot! I knew he was right. Well at least we had fun and we had conquered this climb and enjoyed the exploration.
BJ conquered the mountain, just moments before the mountain conquered him!
I headed down the scree field first. When I reached the entrance to the slot canyon I turned around and decided to snap one more quick photo of BJ. Just then, I heard BJ holler out and saw him start to tumble down the rock-strewn mountainside! He had reached forward, securing his hand and full body weight on a rock that quickly gave way and sent him flipping forward!
The flipping stopped and BJ stood up and looked at his hand. Both he and I saw that his ring finger had popped out and was dangling at a 90-degree angle. I thought his finger would continue tumbling down without him at any minute. Gross! Instinctively BJ grabbed his finger and thrust it back into its socket – snap! He let out a few war cries throughout the ordeal, and later said he knew right what to do because he’s seen how they do it in the NBA and he knew he wanted to get his finger back in the socket before the adrenaline wore out. Men, men, men, men, manly, men, men…
BJ’s full weight on the rock that gave way.
We paused for a minute to assess the damage. He had rock-educed cuts on both hands and a huge raspberry up his leg. His finger was stiff but not bad, and his pride was hurt for sure. Otherwise BJ was in tip-top shape, so we started the slow cautious descent into the narrow slot.
We finally made it back to flat ground into the main wash. We then ran the fun return to our car via the newly found desert wash with new stories but no new LB50 route.
Ok ok, BJ, you’re right. That alternate side-shoot route is too dangerous to send runners up.
And the text conversation between my wife Mary and BJ the next day:
“Hey BJ, Glad you’re ok! Next time you can just tell Gonzo “no” about the potential race trail, you don’t have to dramatically throw yourself down the mountain :)”
BJ’s response “He doesn’t listen. Needs visual aids.”
The 2017 Lost Boys 50 course will be exactly the same as the 2016 course, no change this year.
See you on the trails.
Brian Gonzales, Lost Boys 50 RD