2021 Ultra #15 – Quaker Shaker 50K

I’ve been meaning to explore Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, perched on top of Alum Rock Park, for quite some time now. I had to abort this 50K attempt last time around when I tried running the day after a rainstorm where the trails had the consistency of clay. But second time’s a charm and the cold front helped. There were three parts to this course. The North Rim trails of Alum Rock connecting up to the Sierra Vista trails (Calaveras Fault Trail!) and then back to the South Rim trails. Here’s my Strava activity:

Alum Rock North Rim

Headed out a little before 6am when civil twilight started. There was enough light for me to not trip over things. On the climb up to Eagle Rock, I was thinking to myself how nice it was to have the trails be runnable instead of muddy and clay’ish. The birds were out, deer grazing and of course, my bovine friends hogging the trails 🙂 On Boccardo Loop Trail, I had to go off trail a couple of times to skirt around the cows and give them a wide berth.

Sierra Vista Open Preserve

Up at the very top of Alum Rock was the entrance to Sierra Vista, managed by Open Space Authority. This area protects various watersheds, including Penitentiary Creek. There is the Sierra Road with a parking lot at the entrance to this preserve, but running up there from Alum Rock was more fun 🙂

I hadn’t seen a whole lot of pictures of Sierra Vista trails, so didn’t know what to expect. From the top, took the Upper Calaveras Trail to descend down into the preserve, which looped around then descended further into Lower Calaveras Trail. I was running an old paved road for a while with a creek flowing next to it and saw this boarded up house. I guess there’s private property all around.

Tip of Lower Calaveras Trail

On the climb up to the tip of Lower Calaveras Trail, kept playing tag with a a family of cows. They would wait for me a while and then run away from the trail (that’s a new one!). And then graze up ahead of me and repeat again. Took my time soaking in the view, chowed down a Pro Bar and headed back.

Two things noteworthy I supposed on the way back. I had forgotten to turn on do-not-disturb on my iPhone. So as it brushed against the vest, it prolly tried various passwords and then disabled itself like for an hour! And right after this picture, I took my eyes off the trail for just a sec and wham! Went down on the trail. Sat there for a few seconds catching my breath. Luckily it was a jammed finger and some cuts on my right knee. *whew*

Alum Rock South Rim

21ish miles later, I was back at the car right around the four hour mark. Reloaded on Tailwind and headed out for the second lap. As for the South Rim trails, you might as well be in a different park all together. Such a different experience! Shaded trails, Penitentia Creek running long, sulpher/mineral springs – gorgeous.

I’m so glad that I got to explore almost every bit of trails that Alum Rock has to offer and happy to time this run with the cold front. When I finished the South Rim loop, I was at mile 29. So headed up again along Penitentiary Creek for a mile or so before running back to the car and finishing right around 6:15 or so.

Absolutely N.O. spam. No more than two emails each week. Learn about injury-free running, race reports, new trail routes, awesome recipes and amazing interviews.