Sunday, November 25, 2012

Running in Ukiah: Lake Mendocino

Right after the Turkey Trot on Thursday morning, and a shower (!), we drove up to Ukiah in the heart of the Russian River Valley and Mendocino County. Entering the County boundaries, we were welcome by 3 Ws albeit a different meaning than the World Wide Web: Wine, Waves and Wilderness! While we did not actually drive to the Coast to see the breakers nor did we do any touristic wine tasting, you can count on us to experience the wilderness of this North Californian region!
We drove up to Lake Mendocino after checking in to experience a spectacular sunset over the quiet and silent lake.
With the two large camping sites at the North of the lake and the multiple boat ramps, it must me a different story in summer, a busy and crowded site. Yet, a great place to camp, just a couple of hours North of San Francisco.
Between the perfect weather and amazing Fall colors of the trees and vineyards, the views were outstanding!
On Friday morning, I had my own version of Black Friday, leaving the hotel at 6:30 am, before sunrise, and running in the dissipating fog.
Needless to say, I had the road for myself for the 3 miles up to the dam, and I didn't see one single living soul on the trail except for a few birds, deers and what I believe to be a fox (too much fur and to large of a tail for a coyote, right?).
I was supposed to get back to the hotel by 9 am but I couldn't resist the appeal of running the whole trail on the east side of the lake and ended up at the North East entrance, the huge Bu-shay Campground, around 8:30. Alas, there is no bridge over the Russian River there, so you have to run all the way up to Highway 20 then, West, on this busy highway to the next entrance/campground, Marina Road. Although I wanted to complete the tour of the lake on the trails, with that 2-mile detour and the clock ticking, I decided to take the road instead. Instead of the original 10 miles or so I was aiming at I ended up with 20.5 miles on my GPS! A great run and, thankfully, Greg had enjoyed sleeping in so I wasn't jeopardizing our family plans for the rest of the day, phew!
You can find more directions and details on local Ukiah trails on the Ukiah Valley Trail Group's website.

We had a very zen rest of the day actually, visiting the City of the 10,000 Thousands Buddhas, participating for 90 minutes to the Great Compassion and Repentance celebration, a vegan lunch at the monastery restaurant, 2 hours soaking in bubbles at the Vichy Springs Resort and a traditional Thai cuisine dinner at THE Thai restaurant of Ukiah, Ruen Tong.
Great getaway in Northern California, with new trail running opportunities! And we haven't even explored the nearby and huge Mendocino National Forest, North of Clear Lake. So much left to discover in California...!

PS: see about 90 more pictures in my Picasa album. Including this very welcoming and reassuring sign when you get to the lake... We did survive Lake Mendocino, phew! ;-)

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