In the photo to the left (click here to see location on map), I was going to make an immediate left, head south for a bit then wind my way via trail back to the road heading straight ahead, then follow the ridge line to the peak to the right and the high point in the run: McTarnahan Hill (route shown at the bottom of the post).
I figured the snow would either be significantly melt-compressed on the trail parts and provide decent footing. On the roads, I'd run the middles with the same conditions or in the drive-ruts for even more compression. Not the best, but not bad either. Wrong.
Under the trees, the snow conditions were... challenging. Due to shadows, it hadn't compressed down. It simply had formed a crust. Not just any crust, but a Jesus Fucking Crust. Or so I thought after what seemed hours of it. The crust was just thick enough that it would support my walking weight. Approximately 15% of the time. The rest of the time, it would support me momentarily, then I'd break through. Since I was trying to run (ha!) I'd consistently break through and the front edge would then grab my foot in a really good try at tripping me. Every. Single. Time. Needless to say, it was difficult and demoralizing. I was looking forward to hitting the tracked dirt road again. Even the ice in the ruts was better than this.
When I finally did (not telling how long it took to get there, neener neener!) I opened my stride for about a minute. Then I hit some mud and slowed. Not bad, doable. Carry on. A few strides further, and it's looking suspicious. Hmm. Snow, but discolored like dirty snow. Could be ice under there, go easy.
I kept slogging and hit the ridge. Nobody had been there, so it was melt-compressed snow on the south faces, deeper crusted powder on the north. Ugh. This SUCKS!
I finally made the top. It was difficult, my feet were numb and the wind had picked up. No surprise there, it's usually breezy on top. I decided to snap a couple pics, and head back by the most direct route, cutting the run nearly in half to 11K.
I'm not sure for how long my Inov8s and Dirty Girl Gaiters had been planning the photo bomb above, but it worked out well for them. What was going to be a stellar view shot became a color-riot. Oh well. I shot a couple others while keeping a close eye on the photobombers.
I think I'll stay low this weekend. I'm not positive I'll feel the same next week, but right now, I think I'd prefer an overly sandy route.