Monday, July 29, 2013

On Rhus Ridge with my GoPro

I have been contemplating changing camera for a few months as my Canon PowerShot appears a bit tired of "running" miles in rugged conditions and I had quick looks to the versatile action movie cameras such as the GoPro or the Sony Action Cam. For Fathers' Day, and breaking this indecision, my sons surprised my with a gift certificate for a... GoPro! It arrived this week so I was excited to put it at work on the trails. And what a better opportunity than our monthly group run from Rhus Ridge?

This Saturday morning, I first dropped Greg at school at 6 am where he met 2 other classmates and his new yearbook teacher to carpool to a yearbook summer camp in Sacramento this weekend. Thanks to this early duty, I was at the Rancho San Antonio parking lot earlier than usual and left the car around 6:25 am. It always amazes me to see these parking lots almost full already at such an early time, with hundreds of people on the trail. At least it was daylight although we were under a thick layer of fog still covering the Valley and this side of the hills.
I passed one runner and one hiker on my way to the Windmill Pasture at the top of the steep Rhus Ridge hill. I went down the hill toward the entrance to meet with whomever was able to make the group run this July. I ran into Charles (Stevens) who was hiking and said that, although he had left a fw minutes before 7 am, he didn't think there will be others joining that time. We hiked up together and I learned that Charles had another blood clot at Ohlone last May and was still enduring severe back pain. I learned so much about ultra running from Charles upon joining the Stevens Creek Striders, it makes me sad to seem him now struggling and frustrated for not being able to run. But at least he is still out there enjoying our nearby trails for a serious hike up to Black Mountain! And it was worth the effort of powering through the fog for some aerial and sunny views at the top!
Solo I then went for this 29-mile loop, stopping here and there to take a picture or a movie on order to give you a better taste and feel of trail running than the still pictures I've shared over the past 7 years in this blog. Speaking of pictures, the GoPro doesn't shoot only movies but pictures too with such a wide angle that it's challenging not to get your own shadow in the picture!

Going through the Palo Alto Foothills park, I met Frederic (Garderes), an alumni of the same engineering school I attended in France and a fervent reader of my blog. Frederic is an ultra runner too. He ran his first 50-mile at Quicksilver in May and will run the Dick Collins Firetrails one in October. We talked about running, gear, work and family.
He went on the section I was just out and reported in the evening on Facebook that he saw a rattlesnake. I'm not surprised as this is where I saw one, coiled in the middle of the trail, last year. At the park headquarters, there is actually one live kingsnake, a snake which was dubbed this way because it eats other... snakes... including the dangerous rattlesnake!

Besides the rattlesnake, the hazards on this trail are rock/land slides (I always run this trail like it was the last time as it is so damaged)
and I like this "Bee careful" sign as well which says it all:
Overall, it was a good run to test the GoPro. With the wide angle, not quite a fisheye but close, the pictures are "interesting", let's interestingly distorted. Not having the optional camera back as a feedback loop, it is hard to anticipate what will be in the frame of the picture, adding a surprise and anticipation component to photographing like we had before the digital world. Anyway, see my Picasa album for more pictures from this run (about 60) with a few comments.

As for the movies, I shot at 960 pixels x 30 images/sec and I must say I'm not very happy with the result. Sure, there is the way to hold the camera and I didn't have one of these optional devices to attach the camera to a strap around your chest or head, or at the end of a pole, but I find the result rather "chopped", not smooth at all. And, the few minutes I shot this Saturday are worth 1.5GB so that's not practical to upload from an airport...

Great running week otherwise with 93 miles added to the log, right after the 62 miles at the aborted TRT last weekend. And I'm now on a long flight to Bangkok through Tokyo... Talk to you next time from Thailand then!

1 comment:

ZeFreds said...

T'was good to see you Jean!
Always nice to have a surprise like that on the trail.
Safe travels, and soon again on the trail, without any hissing and rattling other encounters.