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December 16, 2008

Fools in the Ra ... What?!

Actual conversation between a running partner and me that took place in pitch darkness shortly after 5:30AM yesterday, on the first major climb of our weekly 12-mile trail run:

Me: Hey – does this rain seem strange to you?

Him: What do you mean?

Me: Well, I can tell that it’s hitting me, but it feels different than usual. It has a different impact when it lands or something.

Him: I hadn’t noticed.

Me: And I know we’re getting wet, but there’s kind of a delay to it. There’s definitely something weird about this.

Him: Hard to tell – it all looks the same in the headlamps.

The confusion was ultimately set aside - to my partner’s relief, I’m sure – and we soon found ourselves at the top of the climb.

About 45 minutes and 700 feet of descent later, daybreak arrived with an easily recognizable rainstorm, soaking and chilling us for the last few miles of our run. We hit the parking lot, and only paused for a quick fist bump before jumping into the shelter of our cars and heading off our respective ways.

It wasn’t until later in the day that I looked back towards the hills we had run on that morning – and this was the sight I saw:

That would be snow, on the slopes of Mount Toro, rising above Steinbeck’s Pastures of Heaven. Our run was on the opposite side of the valley, and at a lower elevation - but suddenly the oddity of the morning’s precipitation became clear: we had been running through a snow flurry! It wasn't quite cold enough to stick to the ground where we were - although at 30 degrees, it was plenty cold for me - but the flakes were definitely falling on us while the storm headed toward the top of the mountain.

Monterey County typically gets snow about once or twice per year, but sometimes several winters will pass without the necessary ingredients converging at the right time to create measurable snowfall. Last Monday night and Tuesday morning, all the conditions came together for one of the earliest snow storms that most people around here can ever recall.

And I can say that I was running in it. How awesome is that?

However, lest you get the wrong idea about any of this, let me be clear: running in the snow isn’t something I want make a habit of. Prior to yesterday, it’s been more than ten years since I’ve done it – and while the memories are vivid, I’m not exactly nostalgic for the ghost of cold, snowy winters past. So I’m hoping to chalk this up as a very cool fluke of circumstance, then return to the regular 65-degree December days that are the reason I live here.

In other words: Welcome, Winter. Please go away soon.


Finally, since I’ve been musing about John Steinbeck lately, here’s another snow picture I took yesterday, featuring one of his favorite spots. In Travels with Charley in Search of America, he described Fremont Peak this way:

“This solitary stone peak overlooks the whole of my childhood and youth, the great Salinas Valley stretching south for nearly a hundred miles, the town of Salinas where I was born now spreading like a crab grass toward the foothills.”

And there you have it - Steinbeck Country under snow. Here's hoping this is the last time I have to write about this.


Sunshine Girl 12/17/08, 5:29 PM  

You will see why I have NO EMPATHY for you, when you check out the latest installation in the Leslie blog and the nasty temps I've been dealing with. It's a little silly. And I got frostbite on my big toe, so I'm out of commission for a few days. Sniff.

AKA Alice 12/17/08, 7:07 PM  

Crazy weather right now, isn't it? It snowed in Las Vegas yesterday too...can you believe it?

I'm completely enjoying your Steinbeck musings :-)

triguyjt 12/17/08, 7:36 PM  

hey it looks pretty...but you can guess why I would be saying that!!!!speaking of snow....getting some yaktrax to help me on those icy snowy runs.....

olga 12/17/08, 8:48 PM  

I have no empathy either, I am stuck home, can't run on roads due to danger, can't get to trails due to "can't drive". I am fat and low on endorphin. Worse than while injured - at least I was going to the gym and for walks!

Rainmaker 12/18/08, 7:48 AM  

You strange SoCal people and you're snow. It was almost 70* here on Monday. I'll trade ya!

stronger 12/18/08, 8:50 AM  

I'm hoping it's still snowing by Saturday so I can run in the falling snow...bliss.

We're getting hammered right now with 4-12" every night (since Friday).

Juls 12/18/08, 9:45 AM  

What's up with the no empathy comments? I didn't think that you were actually complaining. I think it is funny that it was snowing and you didn't "notice."

Formulaic 12/18/08, 11:46 AM  

Good post.

Running in the snow is a different experience. Of course, living in Las Vegas I rarely get to practice that!

Thanks for letting us in on your run

robtherunner 12/18/08, 12:40 PM  

I may not have empathy either, but what I find most disturbing is that you don't enjoy running through the snow. How can this be? 65 in December? I don't think I could handle it. I like my seasons.

21stCenturyMom 12/18/08, 5:31 PM  

Oh please - you have barely begun to scratch that Steinbeck itch you opened up with the photo meme. I'm looking forward to more - much more.

craig 12/18/08, 8:10 PM  

You've convinced me that every cultured person should read East of Eden. I'll pick up a copy over the holidays. Hope you have a merry Christmas Donald.

Makita 12/19/08, 8:40 AM  

No sympathy here either. I tried running in it on Wednesday and it was like running in the sand it was so dry and cold... 4 degrees or something. Yesterday, wet & heavy snow began to fall. Slogs the shoes. I see treadmill in my near future.

Darrell 12/20/08, 10:07 AM  

I really don't mind sitting here in the middle of the San Gabriel Valley and looking north to the snow covered mountains. It sure is a pretty sight.

angie's pink fuzzy 12/24/08, 10:32 AM  

wow, running in snow in CA! that's awesome!!

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