Friday, December 24, 2010

29 miles in 4:58:00 December 24, 2010

A great day for running in Southern California -- maybe even too warm. Today I ran over 29 miles in under 5 hours, a pretty good time in hills at my age for a training run with nobody to run against.

This run takes me from my home in Newhall to White's Pass in Canyon Country, a modest little mountain pass. It then drops down into Saugus. I catch Copper Hill Road and then head south near the 18 mile marker on the City's river path trail. That takes me close to the I5 freeway and across my favorite spot in the entire run, an old railroad bridge crossing. I then head south on Tourney and Tournament Roads.

It is a great run because the first 10 miles are flat, running up the Santa Clara River so I can pour it on and wear myself out for the pass ascent right after that.

And, I exceeded 50 miles this week with only three running days!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Triple of Towsley Canyon

Today I did a triple loop of Towsley Canyon (about 16.2 miles) plus the road round trip there (4 miles). I hit the wall at about 18 miles on the road trip back. I rarely do that any more. I could still be recovering from my 50K last week. Plus it was pushing 80 degrees.

On the last loop I picked up a 30-something woman who was obviously a very seasoned trail runner and we dueled it out for four miles, with me beating her by about ten feet at the trailhead. I thought I might prevail on the downhill where the inexperienced runners fade, but she had obviously been there and done that before. That probably explained why at the end of that loop and on the way hope I collapsed into a shuffle.

A beautiful day to run in southern California. What could be nicer? Hundreds of people on the loop.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December in Santa Clarita

I'm out for my morning 8-miler. The first two weeks in December are the prettiest in my home town. The leaves are in full color. These eastern trees transplanted to southern California turn in late November and early December. Great days here in Southern California. The best.

Now, back to the torture of the run.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

North Face Endurance Challenge, San Francisco 50K




On December 4, 2010, I ran the North Face 50K Endurance Challenge in West Marin County, California. This is really one of the toughest races I have ever run. The elevation profile tells much of the story.

My time was 7:12.50, or 7 of 17 in my age group of 50 to 59. That time was pretty much a middle of the pack pace, which was 7:22. This was the largest crowd of ultra runners I've ever run with; there were 307 finishers in my race. I finished 155.

We also ran with the much smaller 50 mile and marathon groups. The trails were often crowded.
I did lots a passing in the first 10 miles. From miles 15 -25 I faded and the groups I had been running with left me in the mud. In the last 5 miles when I forced more food into the system I made up a lot of ground and past a couple of dozen, passing about 10 of those alone in the last two miles.

The conditions made the race very difficult. It was raining most of the time and the trails, mostly single-track, were very slick, making the going rather slow for most of the course. At the end of the race my legs were covered in mud all the way up to my shorts. Plus, I hadn't quote broken in my new trail shoes and I was running in my road shoes. I could have used bigger lugs on the tread for this race.

The scenery was fantastic. The race either skirted the coast, with magnificent views of Muir and Stinson beaches, or into the rain forests in the gullies in the little coastal range of mountains along the coast.

Son-in-law Casey ran the marathon with an impressive 5 hour time, considering it took me an additional 2 hours to cover an additional 6+ miles.
As usual, when I'm getting towards the end of the race I think to myself that I'll never run again, but now I am looking forward to the next race, a 50-miler in Orange County.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Santa Barbara Marathon: 3:56:46.8


Well, I gave it all I could today and still can't approach my 3:40 time eleven months ago, the time I need for Boston. I think I am guilty of not enough preparation, although I've had a couple of 50+ weeks in the past few weeks.

I came in 14th in my age division.

This is a terrific marathon, really, but somewhat disorganized for 2500 runners. Not enough buses. Started 30 minutes late (probably because of the buses). Almost no porta potties along the run.

It seems to be rather level; along the coast from Goleta. Parts of it slowed down the runners; many tight turns. There was about a seven mile jaunt through a park along asphalt trails that were being uprooted by neighboring trees.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ascent of Mt. Langley


Mt. Langley is 14,042 feet, a few miles south of Mt. Whitney. It is one of the easier fourteeners to climb. However, we made the ascent on October 8 to 9, 2010, after a snowstorm. Friend Greg and son-in-law Casey and I also ascended the somewhat more difficult Old Army Pass route.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

YMCA Stair Climb 16:44 and Castaic Triathlon

Friday September 25, 2010 I completed the YMCA Stair Climb in 16:44. The 75 story run was in a very crowded, hot and stuffy stairwell. About 1000 people competed but in the stairwell at any one time were about 70 people. I passed dozens on my way up and was never passed. As the building got narrower at the top the stairwell became narrower and people were grasping both rails, left and right, to ascend. That made passing them tough. At the very last story a young woman refused to let me pass her. I guess she had been passed too many times.

The website has me listed at 30 years old. My law firm was a sponsor and I received a complimentary VIP pass; I guess the HR person who registered me thought I was 30.

The next day I ran the annual Boy Scout Triathlon in Castaic Lake and came in at 1:18:16. The best time was 1:03. My rank can be seen here. It was a swim, mountain bike and run. I was third next to last coming out of the water. My 17-year-old son was one of the earliest out of the water, but I passed him on the bike route about two miles into it. Fortunately I lost only about 3 minutes from my slow water start. Last year I had done a little better in the swim.



I passed forty or fifty on the bike course and about 20 on the run. I ran with two sons, my 15 year old and my 17 year old, Nate and Tadd.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lone Peak Sept 4, 2010



On September 4, 2010, I summitted with son Rob Lone Peak on the Wasatch Front. I always wanted to do this peak because it is one of the more spectacular from the valley basin.

The summit of Lone Peak is 11,253 feet. The altitude of the Orson Smith Trailhead in Draper is 4800 feet. So, the altitude gain is quite significant.

What also sets this hike apart from many is that the first part of the ascent gives a wonderful view of the valley floors of both Utah and Salt Lake Counties. During the dark the LDS Draper Temple really stood out.

The second part of the ascent is through what is known as the "Cirque," which is a rock formation you can see in the photos.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mt. Lovenia August 2010

In the week of August 16, 2010, brother Dave and his friends Dave, Carl, Brad and Kyle spent six days in the high Uintas.

On Wednesday, we summited Mt. Lovenia, a very remote peak at 13219 feet, Utah's second highest. Few climb it. There is no trail to top and most of the climb was scrambling up wicked boulders and scree. There were a few difficult spots through chimneys; it was so scary to the casual hiker that naturally I took no pictures in the tough spots.

What makes Utah's highest peaks so challenging is the distance from the nearest trailhead. It is a three day hike to get to Lovenia. We started at the West Fork Blacks Fork trailhead, and followed the Class 3 Northwest Ridge of Lovenia to the summit. We then descended into the basin west of Lovenia and circled the south of Lovenia to exit the East Fork Blacks Fork trailhead.

Three of us then did some very difficult trail running from the East Fork to the West Fork across two passes and about 13 miles so that we could get our cars from West Fork and return to pick up our friends at East Fork.

The scenery is fabulous. It was wet and green, in contrast to the Sierras, which are drier. Thursday night we suffered rain and snow at the foot of Squaw pass. An adventure, often a grueling physical challenge, not to be forgotten! Thanks to Dave and friends for inviting me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Grandson Zane

My wonderful grandson Zane made it from the hospital where he's been lingering for a week after coming into this world. Congrats to Whitney and Rob. You have a great challenge but there's nobody better than the two of you.

Dad

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mt. Whitney Summit Via Mountaineer's Route July 8, 2010



On July 8, 2010, I summitted Mt. Whitney on a day hike via the Mountaineer's Route with friend Greg and son Tadd. Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states, at 14, 494 feet.

The Mountaineer's Route is a couloir through a chimney up the to the "Notch" which looks frighteningly steep to ordinary backpackers and hikers. We were equipped with cheap-o running spikes for our running shoes (Greg had crampons) and ice axes. We were going to need them.

We departed at approximately 4:30 a.m. The trail to Iceberg Lake, or the Climbers Trail, leaves the main trail at the very point where Lone Pine Creek crosses the main trail from Whitney Portal. If you cross Lone Pine Creek, you've missed the Climber's Trail.The Climber's Trail is a breathtakingly steep and unofficial trail to Lower Boy Scout, Upper Boy Scout and then Iceberg Lakes. Iceberg Lake is considered a good base camp for the assault on the peak. The Mountaineer's Route begins at Iceberg Lake at 12,200 feet.

The climb up the chimney to approximately 14,000 feet is not for the faint of heart. It is a scramble up a very steep face.

At the notch, there is another couloir to the left, which a chute directly to the summit.

Climbers' guides report that this is a class four ascent, and Tadd and I were certainly intimidated. My pictures show us entering this col; I was too scared to shoot any pictures during the ascent. At several points, and I was very unhappy having to do this, I had to pull myself up to the next rock with no toeholds and no certainty that I could actually hoist my body to the next level. While wondering whether I could actually pull myself up this steep col, I also thought how crazy it was to take my 17-year-old son through this, but he was first through the col and first to hoist himself to the summit's plateau.

We descended through the main trail back to base camp.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mt. Shasta Summit June 25-26, 2010



June 25-26 with law partner Andy, son-in-law Casey and friend Greg, I summited Mt. Shasta.

Shasta is a volcanic cone, 14,179 feet high, in California near the Oregon border just off the I-5 Mt. Shasta City exit. In 1877, John Muir wrote an article about summiting Shasta with a surveyor, getting caught in a blizzard and surviving the night lying in hot sulfur springs near the summit.

We rented our gear in Mt. Shasta City – crampons, gaiters, ice axes. What a strange place; it seems the entire city is dedicated to New Age business – crystals, yoga.

We made it to the trailhead by 10:30 a.m. and within one hour had ascended to Horse Camp, a Sierra Club alpine hut, where we loaded up with water. The trail was crowded. Perhaps 200 people were on the mountain at any one time. The ascent to base camp was hot, and we ascended with shorts and short-sleeved shirts. The snow was slushy. It was not necessary to wear crampons for this stretch.
From 2010 June Shasta

Leaving the treeline, we reached base camp, Helen Lake, 41.3888°N 122.21°W, altitude 10,472 feet. We pitched our tents along with 50 others. The most notable feature of Helen Lake’s base camp was the urinal pit. Helen Lake might be a lake when the snow melts, but when we were there it was just a flat spot in the middle of Avalanche Gulch.

Later in the day, the resident ranger gave us a lecture about the summit, its weather and risks, and again more information about the urinal pit. We were advised to make an alpine start, i.e., in the middle of the night, so that the snow would be adequately set for crampon use.

Sleep was difficult. For one thing, the urinal pit was a long slog through slush about 100 yards away. For another thing, few people were really sleeping in tent city, with some leaving at 2:00 a.m.

We arose at 3:00 and left by 4:00. Andy and I had a warm breakfast. I am proud of my accomplishments as a water boiler. One last stop at my favorite site, the urinal pit.

The slope in Avalanche Gulch was much steeper than the day before, but we were leaving with weather in the low 20s and the snow was firm and suitable for crampon use. After an hour or so, we were treated to a lunar eclipse. One of my photos shows the latter parts of the lunar eclipse along with the shadow of the mountain.

We made excellent time. Although Andy told me to go slowly at first, that didn’t last long and all of us passed many climbers, catching up with many of the early risers. We then were faced with a ridge with several chutes, known as Red Banks (approx 13,000 feet) Ascending through the chutes was the steepest; going up was no problem but descending caused me stress. We then ascended Misery Hill, which really was an ascent along the summit's ridge. Cresting Misery Hill put us, again, on a narrow ridge, with the final push to the top. Here we rested on exposed rock face in the sun, waiting for team members to catch up.

A short push put us on the summit, where there was little snow. Walking around on crampons was clumsy, but the view was terrific. We could see several volcanic cones; Mt. McLoughlin to the east and Lassen Peak to the South, to name the ones we could identify.

On to the descent. The snow at the top of Avalanche Gulch was too firm for novices to attempt a glissade, so the crampon work was torture. Finally, the snow softened up and we were able to glissade some. We arrived back at Helen Lake, assembled our gear and returned through blazing heat on top of a blistering snow pack to the trailhead, around 2:00 p.m. or so.

Casey's video.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Atop Mt. San Antonio ("Mt. Baldy") today


This morning, Deb and I climbed Mt. San Antonio, also known as Mt. Baldy. This was my supposed "acclimation" exercise for my assault/insult of Mt. Shasta in two days. Mt Baldy is about 10,064 feet and the third highest peak in Southern California, behind San Gorgiono Mountain (11,499) and Mt. San Jacinto (10,804).

We left the trailhead around 5:30 and got to the peak around 8:40. The ascent we picked was the Baldy Bowl Trail (Ski Hut Trail), which is a one-way trip of 4.2 miles with a 3900 foot gain. We were lucky to find the trailhead, because there was no trail marker for it as it left a service road up to the ski lifts.

We then descended down the Devil's Backbone trail, which took us through the little ski resort. That involved a descent along a ridge for about 2.0 miles to the top of the ski resort, another 1.3 miles to the Baldy Notch and then an incredibly boring 3.6 miles of service road descent. This is called the "loop." We ran most of the downhill.

This is probably Deb's first peak ascent. I heard a few "are we there yet"s and a false summit didn't help.

Here's our picture at the summit with the gut I can never lose. We are wearing our Boston Marathon shirts.

It was fairly challenging but not so much for a conditioned ultrarunner. Not having done it before, I ended up carrying two liters too many of water and a half a pound too much of food, as well as an unncessary camelpack. However, my internet research reveals a much more challenging 6000 foot ascent starting in Baldy Village near the Village Church. I'll try that soon.

On to Mt. Shasta, in two days. The base at Mt. Shasta is 40 degees warmer than our unsuccessful attempt three weeks ago.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Shasta's Out

Avalanche danger. Raining in the higher slopes. Drats.

Here's a video. Guess which one is my grandchild?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Preparing for Shasta

The weather's poor at Shasta. My climb is next week. Today I'm gathering all my gear and finding out once again the two legged little rats in the house have pilfered some of my stuff so I've got to do a little shopping.

Today I made a four-hour run, an ascent of both Manzanita Peak and Magic Mountain. This was my first double ascent with no water. I had not planned to go so long so I didn't have water with me but changed my mind. There's a drinking fountain at the air attack fire station at the top of Magic Mountain.



On my descent I decided to summit an intermediate peak and was surprised to find that the trail gave out right at the peak. I had to bushwhack back down in the middle of tick season.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mt. Shasta

OK, I haven't done it yet, but a climb of Mt. Shasta is planned for June 4-6, 2010 with son-in-law Casey, friend Greg, law partner Andy and Los Angeles Superior Court judge friend John.

For almost three weeks I have been battling a bronchial flu, hoiking up right now as I type, and have done NOTHING to prepare for this climb. NOTHING.

We're climbing without guides and relying upon friend Greg, the outdoorsman, who is also a book and research expert for every outing I've been on with him. (When I head out to the great outdoors or a race -- no research, no GPS, and hope for the best.) Also, law partner Andy has summitted many snow-clad peaks. I've done Rainier and acquitted myself well, although it was ten years ago.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Boston Marathon


I completed a bucket list goal of running and completing the Boston Marathon, held Monday April, 19, 2010. I finished 650th in my age division, 14592 overall with a pace of 9:05, or 3:57:51.

Here with Brother Dave, who ran a full half-hour faster, at the family gathering site outside the finish line. I ran this with Valencia friends Frank and Belinda.

There is truly nothing like the Boston Marathon.


To start, there is the qualification. This is the only marathon to require qualification. For many like me, that is the biggest challenge, simply qualifying. I qualified with a 3:40 time (with about 13 seconds to spare) at St. George in 2008 with friends Belinda and Mandy, and qualifications are good for 18 months.

There is the training. Long long running. Oddly, I ran Death Valley in December 2010 with little training and ran a 3:41; here, I spent weeks and miles and couldn't break 3:50 let alone 3:40.

There are the logistics. Getting there, getting a hotel room, getting on the bus in downtown Boston with tens of thousand of people, getting to the start, hanging out in the cold for two or three hours.

There is the start. Two waves; faster and slower (I was in the slower; brother Dave in the faster). I stumbled right at the start over somebody's trash bag and got banged up.

There is the race itself. Jockeying for position for the first six miles. Hundreds of thousands of people along the race -- the screaming people through Wellesley; the Wellesley girls offering a kiss. Heartbreak Hill, although I didn't realize I was at Heartbreak until at the top. I am ashamed to say that I walked part of Heartbreak.

There are the people. Forty thousand, or so. Seeing them in the hotels, the restaurants and pubs around Boston; all fit and thin; mostly youngish, or at least younger than me. From all parts of the world; lots from Ireland, Canada, England, Spain, Mexico. Striking up conversations with them in restaurants, at the airport.

There's Boston. Walking the Freedom Trail with Debbie and friends Belinda and William. Seeing the LDS Boston temple, a huge edifice. Going to Church services in Mitt Romney's old stake and hearing his name mentioned frequently. The fabulous Irish pubs, the Italian restaurants. (The hotel was a different matter; 100 yards from the Boston Garden in an area filled with sports bars; after the victory over Miami, all-night celebrations.)

There's the finish; with friends and family. I finished higher, but not much, than my seeded number. I was able to get up to the 13,000 series at mid-point before fading back (and then seeing friend Belinda pass me, somebody I had beat by several minutes in a half marathon just three weeks before). And a hundred thousand people in downtown Boston.

I'll post more pictures.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paria Canyon, 38+ Miles

On April 8-10, 2010, sons Tadd and Nate, sons-in-law Kirk and Casey (running companion), friend Greg (two 50-mile hikes and prospective Mt. Shasta fellow climber) and I made a 38-mile descent of Paria Canyon.

I had done this hike once before, but in under 24 hours with son Rob, ultrarunner brother Dave and friend Brady. Consequently, most of the hike was at night and we hadn't seen much. I had mentioned the hike to retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge R.N., who then reported to me with pictures that he had done the descent himself and wanted to do it again. I had decided that I had missed too much with my night descent and I wanted to do it again myself.

On April 8, 2010, we hired Susan, the shuttle driver, to pick us up at Lee's Ferry, Arizona, where we parked the car. She transported us the 90 minute distance to the Whitehouse trailhead in Utah, which can be see at point D on the map to the left here. Along the way she figured out pretty quickly we were Mormons and told us about the lead scroll find authored by John D. Lee at Lonely Dell. Of course, she wasn't too interested in hearing about my observations about the likelihood of the scroll being a Mark Hoffman forgery, but the others in the car had never heard of this stuff. Lonely Dell was John D. Lee's hideout from federal authorities after his participation in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I had had prior experience with massacre here and here.

We left Whitehouse at about 1:00 p.m. Thursday. The more spectacular but longer hike would have been at first down Buckskin Gulch, but this time of year a descent down that Gulch would have required swimming and rope work. Driver Susan had told us that last year some hikers had found a dead hiker in a pool at the end of a rope.

I was a little concerned about the height of the Paria River. I hadn't seen it that high before. When I had hiked it some years before, the water was clear and low and it was easy to pick one's course across the river. This week, the snowmelt was underway, and the water was very silty and stepping off into the river could mean stepping into a deep pool. I laughed as the boys tried for the first couple of crossings to avoid getting their feet wet; we'd have 400 river crossings total.

That first day we hiked downstream about 8 or nine miles to a spring and camped. It took a few crossings to figure out the efficient method of crossing -- look for ripples in the water signifying shallow water.

It was great to have outdoors expert Greg there because he had become very familiar with the terrain through guidebooks and internet research. Although I had done the hike before, and Greg hadn't, I would not have known how to locate the springs along the way. Greg was able to identify them. The springs were more than just drips coming off the canyon walls. There were many springs sitting in clear pools along the base of the canyon walls. If one didn't know what one was looking for, those pools could easily be missed. Our first night was camped adjacent to such a pool.

From our first night's camp, we hiked a tough 17 miles or so the next day to "Last Reliable" (meaning, last reliable spring water). While packing up at Last Reliable around 7:00 a.m. the next morning, ultrarunner brother and fellow amateur Mormon historian brother Davy met us, after entering Whitehouse eight hours before. He then exited with us. His detailed account is here; he spent 8 hours running to where we had camped after two days. I kept telling the boys that he'd be arriving; they didn't believe me. I wondered what would happen if he arrived in the middle of a cold night and we had no tent to put him in.

We had to carefully pick our places to water up in springs along the way. At the lower end of the hike, river crossings were difficult because the water had become rather deep. When the water was high the second day, I shorted out my Canon ELPH in a river crossing and was forced to rely upon my blackberry for remaining shots.

We were warned to wear Neoprene socks, and they were very wonderful as they added an additional measure of warmth. The first day's descent and first evening were cold; the temperature descended to close to freezing. The next evening was much warmer as well the exit day.

We moved at a fast pace. Covering this distance in three days was rather challenging, but the boys did not complain.
The photos here are of Dave arriving just as we were breaking camp.

The adults were complaining about the inability to find any petroglyphs. I offered to get out my Sharpie and make some for them. Finally, on the last day, Greg carefully analyzed the photographs in his guidebook and found some petroglyphs for us.

This week completed a 60 mile plus week for me. Too bad I couldn't lose the gut before Boston.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More preparation for Boston




Another long mileage week, this time in rather cold weather.

After a 15-mile run Saturday morning, I took the family on one of my favorite 5-mile loops in Towsley Canyon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Great Race of Agoura -- Half Marathon -- First Place

The Great Race of Agoura is one of the nation's oldest half-marathons and one of the largest fields run for an independent half. (Actually, this is the first year of the road half marathon, the trail half marathon is the one that is run year after year. I ran in the road half.) I ran in the 25th Anniversary Run and came in first place in my age division by over three minutes, and 55th overall. (I got smoked in the last second finish line by three people; wasn't paying attention.) Had I run in the next-youngest group I would have come in second place, and the group below that 8th place.

I had an 8:29 pace in a very hilly race. Twas a beautiful day. The hills were killers and I tended to get passed on them, huffing and puffing up them, but on the levels and downhills I made up my losses.

At mile 8 I downed a gel packet and wow, seemed to get a lot of energy, leaving in the dust several runners I'd been dueling with for miles.

After the race, when the sun was up in the 80s, running friends Belinda and Frank (who are going to Boston with me) and I ran 5 miles back from the finish line to the start line, where our cars were parked. We had no water. That was almost as tough as the race itself, plus carrying gear.

I didn't taper for this race; this was a 60+ mile week for me. My feet were bothering me with new shoes so I put my old falling-apart Nikes on for this race and things were perfect.

On to Boston. My final long-distance run will be next week. Then a 38-mile hike of Paria Canyon and I'll be ready.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another 30-mile day; 50+ week



I ran a slightly modified version of what I ran last Saturday, with a little more mileage tacked on, so the run this morning was over 30 miles. I used my alternate shoes today to counteract shinsplits, and wow did I suffer from toe jam and blisters. Out go those shoes. I had to stop mid-run and spend my food money on scissors and tape.

The photo is of an old railroad bridge at approximately mile 20 in the run. The trail isn't quite completed yet where this bridge is located. This is an interesting bridge; no rail lines to be seen for miles. This bridge over the Santa Clara river was built in 1898 as part of the Ventura to Saugus rail line. That line was used to haul produce to the coast and was heavily used during WWII. The City of Santa Clarita acquired it recently for part of the bike trail system but the south end of the bridge really has no place to go, as Magic Mountain Parkway crosses the line and there is no bike path. Lots of construction is underway and it looks the the City is completing a park.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thirty Mile Training Run -- For Boston



Well, after all my running, I have never run more than 27 miles on road surfaces alone. I completed the above 30 mile run in under 5 hours, which is ok for a training run when there is nobody to run against. This run went from my house to Canyon Country and over White's Pass, down into Saugus and up Copper Hill Drive. The return followed the San Francisquito River as it connected to the Santa Clara River. I ran past the site of the St. Francis dam disaster 82 years ago in which 600 people perished. There is nothing left of that dam and no memorial.

At about mile 27 I encountered one of my friends out for a run who is accompanying me to the Boston Marathon.

It was a great run; I've greatly reduced the pain from long distance running through weight training.

Friday, February 12, 2010

United Airlines -- Boo Hoo

So, today I boarded a United flight in Albany, NY to LAX. I had to make connections at Washington Dulles. United gave me only 50 minutes to make the connection when it booked the itinerary.

The first leg was 30 minutes late as Washington Dulles controlled the flight and wouldn't let us take off from Albany. By the time I got off the flight, I was 12 minutes away from departure for the connection. Fortunately, the gate was only 300 yards away.

I arrived with ten minutes to go before departure. The door was closed. An off-duty pilot and I walked up to the gate at the same time. The gate agent remarked to him that a First Class passenger had not checked in and he, the pilot, could have the seat. I held up my boarding pass and said that I was that passenger, and that United should have known that I was late because I was on an inbound flight.

The gate agent told me I was too late because the "door was closed," whereupon she opened the door and let the pilot in. I said, "No, the door is not closed; you just opened it for somebody taking my seat." She said, "No, sir, the door is closed." She then said that she was too busy processing the departing flight and that a supervisor would help me. The supervisor arrived, and the gate agent told her that I was too late, the door was closed. Of course, the supervisor wouldn't believe my story about the door being opened and closed again. Nor would the supervisor give me any aid whatsoever, except point me to a United Service Center with one employee serving an hour-long line.

Whoa.

Two and 1/2 years ago ago I was boarding a UAL flight from LAX to Denver, bound for Sheridan, Wyoming. I was given a general boarding pass without a seat assignment. I showed up at the gate and the gate agent asked me to wait. I watched them make repeated offers to people to leave an overbooked flight. Finally, they closed the door and I approached the agent, whereupon she asked me why I hadn't come forward earlier. I said that I had done so twice before. They opened the door and led me into the plane but every seat was filled and they kicked me off. Apparently, they had let some standbys on and she wouldn't kick the standbys off.

I went to the gate agent and she said she was too busy to help me because she was processing another flight. I stood in line for 2 hours at the United Service Center and then was told I couldn't be helped because I wasn't given a denial of service card.

I called United and was booked on a much later flight to Wyoming. I arrived in Denver and showed up at the puddle jumper connector, Great Lakes Airline, and was told that the flight was overbooked by United by 10 seats. United had booked me on that flight knowing it was already overbooked by 10 seats. (It was a 50 seat airliner.) I had to catch a plane to a much more distant location in Montana.

Whoa. This just ain't cool.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Double loop of Towsley Canyon, again.



An extremely icy and then muddy day today. The week's rains left, with snow in the upper elevations around our valley. Had I been ambitious I could have run to the snow this morning but instead ran a double loop of my favorite, Towsley Canyon. The stream was running through the gorge and I had to wade through knee-high water for a hundred yards or so.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Double Loop of Towsley Canyon

Conditions were perfect today for an 11 mile double loop (plus five mile to and fro round trip) of Towsley Canyon. Although I was still trying to shake bronchitis afflicting me for ten days, I made a go of it in perfect weather -- about 55 degrees with threatening rain. This is the time of year when Southern California is beginning to turn green in anticipation of spring. Almost but not quite a 50 mile week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bob Takes Third in 21K

In a desperately miserable day, January 9, 2010, with the flu and bronchitis challenging me at every step of the way ("Are you OK, Sir?"), I eked out a third-place victory in my new age class (the only joy in life now is advancing into higher age groups) in a 21K trail run at Boney Mountain, near Newbury Park, California, in the Santa Monica Mountains. Wife Deb placed first in her age group 6K trail run. Son-in-law Casey beat me by 2 minutes. I made the mistake of yelling out to Casey with one mile to go that I was gaining on him.

It was a perfect day; slightly overcast and about 65 degrees. The course was fiercely steep for a 21K.


Sunday, January 3, 2010