Henninger Flats & Mount Luken

Henninger Flats trail in fog

Sun, fog, hot, cold, inquisitive deer, snarling bobcats, 2 mountains, 7,300′ of climbing.

Saturday I decided to try a heat & sun training run, 3,700 feet up Mt. Lukens at high noon on a hot, sunny day.

The two other times I’ve run this, it was in the morning, in fog, and cold. Those runs were beautiful. Saturday, not so much. In bright sunlight, this is not really such a beautiful run. There’s just not much to see, and the vistas are marred on a day like this by thick brown smog that blankets everything down below.

To compensate for the poor visuals is a richness of smells, especially on the bottom half below the water tower. There’s all sorts of wild sage and wild dill and other extraordinary smells, and they are always much stronger on a hot, dry day. It’s a feast of aromas, and it reminds me of Mediterranean cooking.

Riding on top of all these incredible spices are the flowers. I’m not sure which one it is – I stopped and sniffed both the yellow flowers and the purple ones – and I’ve no idea what either flower is called – but it takes me back to my childhood in Libya. I was born there, and spent my first 5 years in Tripoli, and we must’ve had these in our garden, or perhaps they were all around the neighborhood – I don’t know. I remember noticing this last year around this same time of year, up on Mulholland Fireroad – the Valley Crest half marathon route.

I don’t know the psychology behind it, but smells elicit a much stronger emotional response than does sight, or sound, or even taste. If I am walking down the street and I see something unpleasant, I note it and move on. If I am walking down the street and I smell something unpleasant, I hold my breath. If I see something attractive, I also note and move on, perhaps a little happier for seeing it. If I smell something attractive – fresh bread, perhaps, or the smells on the trail, I slow down, I inhale deeply, and the happiness is much stronger and I feel it in my body and not just in my mind. And those delicious aromas that I have to stop and take in, literally, filling my lungs with them, almost always elicit strong memories.

So that was a good chunk of Saturday’s run – a three and a half mile series of sometimes gasping but always delicious deep breaths, and again on the way down.

Sunday: A snarling bobcat, inquisitive deer, lots of poison oak, stream crossings, fog, single track, 3,600 feet of hills!

This was a beautiful run along part of what I believe will be the AC100 course. Maggie was out here yesterday clearing the trails as part of her AC100 trailwork obligation. Today we came out again – Maggie Beach, Bob, Luis, Drew, and me.

My legs were sore from yesterday’s Mt Lukens adventure – this has been a 7,300-feet-of-hill-climbing weekend. The uphills were rough. The downhills were a blast, as always.

Got soaked during a stream crossing. This was a good test for the La Spotivas. They drain well. Wet socks were not so pleasant on the downhills. My feet were slipping in the shoes and this in turn made the tentatively forming blister hurt just a bit.

The fog was thick enough that my cap was soaked and dripping, as though it were sweating, or as though there was mist.

On the way back down we spotted some deer. They just grazed on the hill directly above us, looking a bit worried but not terribly afraid. Further down, below Henninger Flat, there was a snarling bobcat growling loudly and looking not at all happy to have 5 runner and two people on horseback staring at him. First time I’d ever seen a bobcat on a run.

I was instructed to pee on a special stick which revealed my ketones are high. Not sure what this means, other than I guess I am consuming myself as fuel, which I can’t imagine is a good thing. No idea what the cure is except that maybe I need to eat more while running? More protein in my diet? Guess I’ve got some research to do.

2 replies
  1. sean
    sean says:

    Keytones are produced when the body uses fat for energy, which for endurance running isn’t really a bad thing. Nice runs!!

    • Geoff
      Geoff says:

      Thanks. I still get a lot of conflicting advice about ’em. One concern is that I don’t get enough nutrition during my runs, that I need to eat more during and, especially, before. I’m one of those guys who routinely does 20 miles on a single Gu because I forgot the rest in the car or because I had only planned on running 6 miles but was having too much fun.


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