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Sarah Lavender Smith Friday, 18 November 2011 08:29 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Running through the Range of Light - Page 3

Best Trails

Check out sagetosummit.com/sierra_runs.html for directions to these and other trails.

  • Evolution Loop. This 100K loop follows the John Muir Trail through Evolution Basin, climbs 9800 feet and traverses stunning wilderness areas. Ask the experts at Sage To Summit about shorter out-and-back options, such as North Lake to Piute Pass (about five miles one way) or South Lake to Bishop Pass (about six miles one way). Snow can cover the passes until mid-summer.
  • Agnew Meadows to Thousand Island Lake. Agnew Meadows Campground is a starting point for some of the best trails around the High Sierra. Located west of Mammoth Lakes near the trailheads for the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails. A favorite loop is 12 miles past Thousand Island Lake. Trails open early summer through mid-autumn.
  • Lower Rock Creek. North of Bishop, this relatively gentle, lower-elevation trail is a favorite wintertime destination, since much of it stays snow-free. Run eight miles along Rock Creek.


An Olympic Marathoner's Mammoth Trail Run

Deena Kastor of Mammoth Lakes holds the American record in the women's marathon (2006 Flora London Marathon in 2:19:36) and twice represented the United States in the Olympic marathon. She won the bronze at the 2004 Athens games but dropped out of the 2008 Beijing race after suffering a broken bone in her foot nearing the 5K mark.

In a typical training week, I'll run up to 140 miles (running twice a day) with ice baths after each, lift six days a week, get five massages a week, nap every day and meet with my coach to review my progress and training schedule. Whether I'm training for cross-country, track or road-racing season, there is nothing as refreshing hitting the trails to explore the Eastern Sierra—I call them rejuvenation runs. I forget about time and distance and set my sights on exploring new territory.

Last August I got a chance to run to Thousand Island Lake with some friends. The 18-mile route offers spectacular views of the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area. We started on the Pacific Crest Trail, running past fragrant wild lupine, phlox, columbine, Indian paint brush and yarrow and across streams. Just before reaching Thousand Island Lake at 10,000 feet, the Minaret and Ritter Range and Banner Peak come into view, reaching into the summer sky.

We looped back on the San Joaquin River Trail, passing Garnet, Ruby, Emerald and Shadow lakes, where we stopped to soak our feet before completing the last few miles. Nearing the end of our run, we picked up the pace, speeding around corners, hopping over rocks, bounding up steady hills and quickly chopping steps over tree roots. I need these spiritually rewarding adventures to get back in touch with the purest joys of running. It works every time.

Need a place to stay when you visit Mammoth? Deena and her husband, Andrew, rent out their three-bedroom town home and provide a "runner's retreat" package for guests who like to run. Check out www.vrbo.com/185669 for details.

Bay Area runner Sarah Lavender Smith writes about trails and travel at www.TheRunnersTrip.com.


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