Rick and I had talked about doing this race for years, even combining it with the Santa Barbara Pier-to-Peak race which is the day before. Ferrell's winding down his triathlon career and the word was it was now or never. My left psoas irritation has been more problematic this year than prior, especially lately. I wondered whether I'd be able to finish. However, Ferrell was in top form and having done the Pikes Peak Ascent race 2 weeks before, felt primed for a best-effort for this, and so it was a "go". I signed on, committing to the trip and a little tent cabin up on the col. But first, I tested my hip with a run on the beach on Wednesday- that went fine; no psoas pain. Then drove to Yosemite to join Nancy, Jim, Dave et al. as part of their backcountry hut-to-hut backpack. Doing 20 miles with a 35 lb pack... and my hip felt fine! Amazing. Drove home, met Ferrell on Sunday, we drove down to LA and up the mountain to the Mt Baldy ski lift, and the adventure began.

As always, realize these travelogues are more documentary shots and memory jogs for me and friends, and so lower your expectations on the artistic, inspirational quality of most of these pictures.

Our first view of Mt Baldy, behind the nearby ridge, as we fought the traffic on I-210 in Claremont

A surprisingly unoccupied and low-key packet pick-up scene, at the Mt Baldy Elementary school. We drove right by it and ended up at the bottom of the ski lift a thousand feet higher up before realizing our mistake and driving back down.

Now we're back to the top parking lot. time to unpack sleeping gear for our altitude-training sleep-over at 8,000 ft at the top of the lift.

Yes, the ski lift runs in the summer - to service the restaurant and the cabins at the top, and to take hikers the easy way closer to the top

Halfway up; the lift stops. Hmmm. No worries, right, mate? Ferrell doesn't look so sure. I'm watching my backpack in the next chair ahead, unaccompanied, and swinging in the wind. No worries, right?

The dirt road winding steeply up the mountain, is the first few miles of our run tomorrow morning

At the restaurant, we get our key and find our cabin - they were extremely unpretenious little abodes...

...just some 2x4's hammered together, put up on cinder blocks, and wrapped in a tarp. But hey, $199/night marked down to $149/night just for the race! Such a deal! BYO sleeping bag.

Fabulous view site, though

Near sunset, a lone helicopter peered into the valley

A good dinner at the ski lodge on top, included in the deal

After dinner, we scamper up the ridge looking for phone coverage

I and the crescent moon, ponder the LA Basin under fog

At dawn we say goodbye to our spartan cabin.

Fellow cabin'rs and racers, before we get on the lift to head down to the starting line

down we go...

Dropping off our clothes bag for transport up to the ski lift top after the race

The race started with a steep 1/3 mile of downhill, to get on the dirt road ...

...winding up to the ski area up top

I felt good, passed a lot of runners as I'd started in the back, soon, I spotted our cabin on the ridge

The aid station at the top of the ski lift

Devil's Backbone starts

Spectacular views to the LA basin, and to the Mojave Desert in the two directions, between heaving gulps of air

Gnarly limber pines dot the trail's 8,500ft + stretches. Related to the more famous Bristlecones, but not needing the dolomitic limestone soils of the Bristlecones.

The other gnarly in the picture, is me!

A few more miles of craggy trail running, and...

The summit comes into view

The fastest of the runners are already near the top. Look close

Clean crisp air, contrast with the clouds and murk in the LA basin far below

OK, one last gnarly shot

The finish line! 2hr 17min for the 8.4 miles and 4,000 ft. of climbing. Good! I had worried about my left psoas holding together, and it did indeed. I was aerobic-limited on this one, not pain-limited.

Ferrell came in at 1hr 44min, and was surprised and happy to see me arrive just a half hour later.

We pose with fellow adventure racer Paul, whom we met the night before and entertained us with his past exploits

This tough woman had done an amazing number of challenging mountain trail races on all continents.

The ancient iron plaque marking the 10,064 ft summit

Some last congratulations on the summit before starting our jog 4 miles back down to the top of the ski lift, where the awards ceremony will be

Devil's Backbone

Ferrell's green SC Tri shirt was easy to keep track of

Awards was at the ski lodge

The look says it all. Tough and sinewy competition comes to this classic race. 5th place. Darn! Aced out of podium time! Still, Rick was 5th out of 31, quite excellent. For me, if I'd registered I'd have been 8th out of 12 in my 60-64 age group.

Once off the mountain, we began the seemingly endless drive home to Santa Cruz. Here, we got off the mind-numbing I-5 for some (similarly mindnumbing?) backroads of the Central Valley for a while.

At Blackwell's Corner, we stop at that place with a giant James Dean image in the parking lot. He died in a head-on collision a few miles up the road in 1955

Here's the race results page This was my favorite event of the year. Will hope to recruit others for another go here, Sept 4, 2017.