The Green Girl's Hike to Potato Chip Rock

The Green Girl standing on Potato Chip Rock
The Green Girl hiked to Potato Chip Rock with her SparkPeople SparkFriends Jeannie, Kelly, and Leah.

Kelly and Leah invited Jeannie and me to join their Rock Church Hiking with SPF hiking ministry's hike to Potato Chip Rock after Kelly saw 'Visit Potato Chip Rock' was #83 on the The Green Girl's 100 Things in 2014 list.

Potato Chip Rock is located in the Lake Poway Recreation Area just below the summit of Mount Woodson Trail.

The Lake Poway Recreation Area is surrounded by 400 acres of Clyde E. Rexrode Wilderness Area. The City of Poway trails system extends over 55 miles.

Driving Directions
There are two hiking routes that will take you to Potato Chip Rock: Mount Woodson Road (3.6 mostly paved, steeper miles roundtrip) or Mount Woodson Trail (7.6 dirt trail miles roundtrip).

Photo Credit: Climb Poway's Woodson Mountain
Mount Woodson Road (Ramona)
From the east, the trailhead is near the Ramona Fire Station. Parking is available on the west shoulder of Highway 67.

Mount Woodson Trail (Lake Poway)
From the west, parking is available for a fee of $5 in the Lake Poway parking lot. The trailhead is east of the paved path along the boat dock. (Please note: there are well-maintained public restrooms in the parking lot - I highly recommend visiting them before hitting the trail.)
Lake Poway Recreation Area - The Mount Woodson Trail leads to Potato Chip Rock

Lake Poway
We hiked to Potato Chip Rock via the Mount Woodson Trail from the west.

We met in the Lake Poway parking lot, walked down to the boat dock, followed the paved path counterclockwise around the lake, and headed east to the Mount Woodson Trail trailhead.

As we ascended, we were afforded a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Poway behind us.

View from Mount Woodson Trail
Mount Woodson is famous for the boulders that are scattered across the chaparral-covered hillsides.

The trail was well marked and the dirt was hard packed - not overly loose or sandy. Some sections consisted of large, irregularly shaped rock steps.

Line for Potato Chip Rock
I'm fairly certain I spotted the line for Potato Chip Rock well before I saw the actual rock.

As we waited our turn, we came to the realization that we had to leap from a boulder to get to the Potato Chip Rock.

We nervously watched those ahead of us navigate the jump as we made an effort to mentally prepare ourselves.

The leap from the first boulder to Potato Chip Rock
It was nerve racking to witness the acrobatic feats people were attempting atop the precipice. Any indication of imbalance resulted in an audible collective gasp from the onlooking future Potato Chip Rock climbers. The more audacious the attempt, the louder the response.

As I stood in line, I realized the climb onto Potato Chip Rock was outside of my 'Safety First' comfort zone. After some internal dialogue, I convinced myself I could walk halfway out and get that picture I'd so earnestly wished for.

Jeannie offered to stay behind and be our photographer so we left her with all our cameras and phones.

Leah, The Green Girl, Glenn, and Kelly
When it was our turn to climb, I was grateful that Kelly and Leah's friend, Glenn, had joined us. He easily made the leap across to the Potato Chip boulder ahead of us. He then guided us to sit at the edge and envision a running start as we held his hand and threw ourselves onto the side of Potato Chip Rock.

Once on Potato Chip Rock, we cautiously crawled out as far as we dared and carefully posed so Jeannie could snap our respective pictures. We all silently hoped the rock wouldn't crack before we could shimmy back down to safety.

Sliding back down from Potato Chip Rock
I'd expected Potato Chip Rock to be flat and but it was uneven and it slightly peaked in the middle. I peered down to see what was below but all I could see was tree branches and leaves.

Glenn also assisted us with the descent. He instructed me to slide down until it was too steep and then to reach out with my hands and push against the other boulder. He explained I needed to push in opposite directions with my hands and feet to get myself down. When I struggled, he reached up and supported my feet.

From down there, we climbed easily back up to the trail and headed back down.
SparkPeople SparkFriends Kelly, Leah, Jeannie, and the Green Girl hiking Potato Chip Rock
The hike took about 4 hours. It took us 2 hours to hike up to Potato Chip Rock, 1 hour was spent waiting in line to get our pictures, and it took less than 1 hour for us to get back down to the Lake Poway Recreation Center parking lot.

Thank you, Jeannie, Kelly, and Leah, for helping me cross #83 off my 100 Things in 2014.


Happy Chinese Lunar New Year 恭喜發財

The Green Girl wants to wish everyone a happy, healthy, safe, and Chinese Lunar New Year.

According to Chinese astrology, our universe consists of five basic elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. It is said that everything in the universe, including humans, has a relationship with these five elements.

The Chinese believe every element is equally important and powerful. Metal will create Water, Water will create Wood, Wood will create Fire, Fire will create Earth, and Earth will then create Metal. Conversely, there is also a cycle of incompatibility and destruction: Metal will destroy Wood, Wood will destroy the Earth, Earth will destroy Water, Water will destroy Fire, and Fire will then destroy the Metal.

2014 is the Year of the Wooden Horse. Wood is related to tree or green. Therefore, 2014 is also known as the Year of the Green Horse.

The Year of the Green Horse is a time to live modestly and be fiscally conservative. 2015 will be the more adventurous and glamorous Year of the Sheep.

In the Year of the Green Horse, it's important to focus on mental and physical strength. If you are out of shape, this is the year to get back in shape.

By tradition, the Year of the Horse is an optimistic time when people are generally more apt to work together in a spirit of community while still enabling independent ideas to help solve problems.

The Year of the Green Horse will be the perfect opportunity for me to focus on learning new technical skills and improving my running and cycling technique.


The Green Girl's Updated Motivational Collage

The Green Girl decided it was time to update her Motivational Collage.

The focus of my last collage was the amelioration of my mind, body, and soul.

A significant portion of last year's healing process involved a chronic case of Achilles tendon bursitis (retrocalcaneal bursitis) in my right heel.

The rehabilitation of my heel was two-fold: Active Release Techniques (ART) and strength training to reduce muscle imbalances.

In addition to being a Certified ART Provider, Dr. Sebastian Gonzales from The Performance Place also performs gait and stride analysis for runners. I went through the process with him a few years ago and Dr. Gonzales identified some muscle imbalances.

Plagued year after year with overuse injuries, I finally opted to enlist the help of a personal trainer. I started training with Chris Nelson from Beach Cities Mobile Fitness twice a week.

One of the benefits of working with a professional is the fact that they are able to quickly identify muscle imbalances or tightness based on the exercise posture of my body. Slight adjustments during workouts make a significant difference.

I credit the treatment, support, and guidance I received from Dr. Gonzales and Chris for the completion of my first ultramarathon last year at the Run Woodstock Freak 50k. While my Achilles bursitis is not completely cured, I am able to run. I support my heel with kinesiology tape on long runs or at the first sign of sensitivity.

My updated collage revolves around:
  • Regular stretching and yoga
  • Disaster/emergency preparedness
  • Local exploration

I am going to get back into a weekly yoga routine and set aside dedicated time for stretching at home.

I want to continue educating myself about emergency preparedness. I don't want a zombie apocalypse to take me by surprise.

Finally, instead of hopping on a plane, I want to focus on exploring locally through trail runs, hikes, and road trips. I identified a number of places I'd like to visit in my 100 Things in 2014 list.


The Green Girl's 100 Things in 2014

The Green Girl was inspired by the Day Zero Project's '101 Things in 1001 Days Challenge' to start her own challenge of attempting to complete 100 things in 2013.

Ultimately, I fell short of 50% completion success by accomplishing 48 out of 100. For 2013, I'm rolling over some outstanding items and removing others from the list.

My focus for 2014 is personal growth, introspection, and local exploration.

The Green Girl's 100 Things for 2014 - [008/100]
  1. Answer the '50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind'
  2. Cultivate a new, positive habit
  3. Do something outside of my comfort zone
  4. Learn 10 new, useful keyboard shortcuts [00/10]
  5. Take a course on UNIX basics
  6. Take a course on Jenkins
  7. Update The Running Green Girl's 'About'
  8. Update The Running Green Girl's 'About Angelman Syndrome'
  9. Get technical certification
  10. Get trained in mountain search and rescue
  11. Attend a self-defense class
  12. Attend a gun/firearms training class
  13. Learn to tie 10 useful knots [00/10]
  14. Learn how to sharpen a knife without tools
  15. Start a fire with a flint
  16. Start a fire with common household items
  17. Make a camping stove and boil water on it
  18. Open a can without a can opener
  19. Learn 10 new survival skills [00/10]
  20. Make a travel carry-on friendly survival kit
  21. Transmit via ham radio
  22. Add 10 items to bug-out bag [10/10]
  23. Get a Dremel tool
  24. Get a Camelbak M.U.L.E. NV 01.10.2014
  25. Get a new carry-on luggage
  26. Get a 'going out' outfit
  27. Try a new cuisine
  28. Roast a whole chicken
  29. Grind flaxseed
  30. Get a garlic press
  31. Go fruit picking
  32. Eat at 5 places featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives [0/5]
  33. Go to the beach with Jade
  34. Go trick-or-treating with Jade
  35. Spin a penny with Jade
  36. Make an obstacle course for Jade
  37. Make homemade paint for Jade
  38. Make a necklace using colored straws with Jade
  39. Make a balloon rocket for Jade
  40. Make cloud dough for Jade
  41. Make goop for Jade
  42. Ride BART with Jade
  43. Find natural odor 'removal' solution for Jade's car seat
  44. Get mole check 03.27.2014
  45. Get wisdom teeth removed
  46. Get a facial
  47. Spend a day at a spa
  48. Make a scrapbook
  49. Volunteer at an assisted-living or retirement home
  50. Replace conventional candles with natural alternatives
  51. Replace air fresheners with natural alternatives 01.04.2014
  52. Try out 10 uses for vinegar [00/10]
  53. Organize bathroom cabinet
  54. Organize the kitchen pantry
  55. Organize bedside table drawer
  56. Clean out garage
  57. Salvage or repurpose an item instead of throwing it away
  58. Dispose of eWaste 01.05.2014
  59. Organize or digitize photographs
  60. Consolidate contact information
  61. Put pictures in frames
  62. Learn how to use manual features/settings on camera
  63. Document a day in the life of a Green Girl in pictures
  64. Mark all the places I've visited in my 1000 Places To See Before You Die book
  65. Go an on overnight ride with Lexa
  66. Drive along Historic Route 66
  67. Visit the Skinny House
  68. Visit The Time Travel Mart
  69. Visit The Great Wall of Los Angeles
  70. Visit the Lake Shrine Temple 01.05.2014
  71. Visit Noah Purifoy Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum
  72. Visit Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch
  73. Visit the abandoned Griffith Park Zoo
  74. Visit the Watts Towers
  75. Visit the Leo Carrillo State Park tide pools
  76. Ride Angel's Flight
  77. Visit San Pedro's Sunken City
  78. Visit the Venice Canal Historic District
  79. Visit Joshua Tree
  80. Visit the Salton Sea
  81. Visit Salvation Mountain
  82. Visit East Jesus
  83. Visit Potato Chip Rock 01.11.2014
  84. Visit the abandoned Nazi Camp
  85. Go trail running at Santa Anita Canyon
  86. Go trail running at Claremont Hills Wilderness Trail
  87. Go trail running at Echo Mountain
  88. Go trail running at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
  89. Go trail running at Sara Wan Trailhead at Corral Canyon
  90. Go trail running at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area 03.29.2013
  91. Go trail running to Paradise Falls
  92. Go trail running to Escondido Falls
  93. Go trail running to Etiwanda Falls
  94. Go trail running to the Bridge to Nowhere
  95. See a movie at the Electric Dusk Drive-in
  96. Go whale watching
  97. Learn to pitch my tent
  98. Go camping
  99. Go paintballing
  100. Go stand up paddle boarding


Run Woodstock Freak 50k Race Report

The Green Girl completed her first ultramarathon when she crossed the finish line of the Run Woodstock Freak 50k.

Run Woodstock was a hippie-themed weekend of peace, love, music, tie-dye, camping, and run­ning at Hell Creek Ranch in Pinckney, MI.

In addition to 5k/10k, 5 mile, full/half marathon, 50k/50 mile, and 100k/100 mile races, there were also optional activities such as hiking, hula hooping, yoga, and even 'natural' (sans clothing) runs.

Run Woodstock at Hell Creek Ranch
Fellow Sole Runner, Sarah, and I joined the Angel Runners at this event to raise awareness and money for the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST).

FAST provides grants and fellowship programs to encourage research aimed at finding a cure for Angelman Syndrome. The organization also provides education and advocacy services.

Jimmy, Jason, and Sarah setting up F.A.S.T. Island at Run Woodstock
We arrived early afternoon on Friday and started setting up our campsite.

In honor of the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics, the Angel Runners coined the term 'F.A.S.T. Island' in reference to our camping area.

Dawn and Jason's angel, Reece, even joined us for the Run Woodstock weekend, along with his sister, Bella.

Angel Reece at F.A.S.T. Island at Run Woodstock
Angel Runners Jimmy and Timothy were registered for the Hallucination 100; Jimmy was running for Reece and Timothy was running in honor of his niece, Kyla.

Sarah and I had signed up for the Freak 50k. Dawn, Jason, Jay, Krishna, and Jimmy's girlfriend Sarah, were pacers for the 100 miler. My friend, Kelsey, had a Run Woodstock Weekend Pass so she could participate in the 5k/10k and the 5 miler.

Angel Runners starting the Hallucination 100 at Run Woodstock
The Hallucination 100 started at 4 pm so all the Angel Runners followed Jimmy and Timothy to the Start Line to see them off on their 100 mile journey.

I stopped by the Run Woodstock Trading Blankets. Runners had left race shirts, magazines, sports nutrition, some homemade baked goods, and even a hydration belt. I ended up grabbing a Mulligan's Metric Marathon shirt in exchange for some snack bars.

Run Woodstock Trading Blanket
At the Run Woodstock store, I purchased one of last year's colorful long-sleeved tech shirts for $5.

At 7:30 pm, Sarah and I threw on our headlamps and headed out for the Far Out 5k. We were hoping to be able to run 3 races in the course of the weekend.

The Run Woodstock Course Map
Click here for full-sized map
We cheered Jimmy and Timothy on through the night until we retreated to our respective tents to catch some shut eye.

Sarah and I set our alarms for a 5 am wake-up call for the 6 am Freak 50k and Peace, Love, and 50 Mile race start.

The 50k course followed a 16 mile loop with aid stations every 4 miles. A portion of our loop overlapped the Hallucination 100 route so we would be able to see Jimmy and Timothy out on the course.

Since this was the first time Sarah and I were going beyond the marathon distance, our plan was straightforward and conservative.

The sunrise at 6:46 am over the Run Woodstock Freak 50k
We agreed to take it easy the first loop; return to camp at Mile 16, make any necessary wardrobe changes, re-fuel, and re-group; and then head back out for the second and final loop.

Since we had the option to return to camp at the halfway point, we didn't bother with dropbags out on the course.

The sunrise at 7:28 am over the Run Woodstock Freak 50k
It was dark when we headed out into the woods for our initial loop but in the first hour the sky gradually brightened with the rosy glow of the sunrise.

The morning was cool but humid so I immediately started sweating profusely. Every few hours, I popped a couple of Succeed S! Electrolyte Caps.

Run Woodstock 'Grace' Aid Station
Every four miles, there was a well-stocked aid station with enthusiastic, friendly volunteers and options like caffeinated carbonated beverages, sports drinks, water, salt, chips/pretzels, salted potatoes, candy, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, Nutella sandwiches, and instant chicken noodle soup.

Run Woodstock 'Ritchie's Haven' Aid Station Dead Bag Zone
At 'Ritchie's Haven' Aid Station, dropbags could be retrieved and, when no longer needed, left in the Dead Bag Zone.

The porta-potties were well stocked and maintained. It was a pleasant surprise to enter a fresh, nearly empty porta-potty late in the day.

Run Woodstock 50k/100k and 50 mile/100 mile split
The routes were well marked with brightly colored flags designating the respective races.

Signs with bold lettering were also thoughtfully placed along the course. Forks in the road were marked along with big stop signs preventing you from going in the wrong direction.

Sarah, pacers Krishna and Jay, and Jimmy
The course terrain varied but the constant forest cover offered the runners a reprieve from the sun.

Some parts of the trail were hard packed single track while other portions were sandy. The loose sand aggravated my Achilles tendon bursitis so I opted to walk those sections.

Paved road portion of the Run Woodstock course
The course consisted of some rolling hills but nothing overly technical.

Between the wooded sections, there were short segments over gravel roads.

We encountered a number of mountain bikers on the gravel road who were participating in mountain biking race that crossed our course. We marveled at the faulty logistics.

Sarah and Jimmy crossing over a wooden bridge
One especially beautiful section of the course took us over a wooden bridge through bright green foliage.

As the leaves brushed my legs, I silently hoped that my cute lime green Zensah compression sleeves would protect me from any potential poison oak.

The course was also along an equestrian trail so there was an abundance of horse manure.

Muddy portion of Run Woodstock Freak 50k course
My least favorite portion of the course was a giant mud pit a few miles away from camp that could not be easily bypassed. We somehow managed to slip and slide our way across it.

When we got back to camp, I quickly chugged a glorious Dr. Pepper and ate a handful of pretzels.

Temporary rain refuge at the Run Woodstock 'Grace' Aid Station
We were saddened to learn Timothy was forced to drop from the 100 miler to the 100k after struggling to go 66.6 miles but we were proud of him for running further than he'd ever run before.

Out on our second loop, we sought temporary refuge from a brief downpour under the 'Grace' Aid Station tent at Mile 20.

Sarah running the Run Woodstock Freak 50k
When the rain let up, we headed back out onto the trail. The moisture cooled the air but added to the mugginess.

Exhaustion set in for both of us at the same time. I glanced at Mr. Orange Garmin and realized we were just short of a marathon at 26.1 miles.

The Green Girl and the Pink Girl at the Run Woodstock Freak 50k finish
Refusing to yield, Sarah and I hunkered down and did our best to maintain a steady pace.

The sun was just beginning to set as the F.A.S.T. Island crew cheered us on at the Finish Line of our very first 50k.

We received our peace symbol finisher medals with the tie-dye ribbons and Sarah received a miniature hippie Volkswagon van for placing fifth in her Age Group.

The Green 'Run Woodstock Freak 50k Finisher' Girl
Krishna, Jay, and Jason warmly congratulated us on our accomplishment.

From the finish line, I uploaded a picture of me standing proudly with my peace sign medal to my Facebook timeline and texted a copy to family and friends.

Sarah and I learned Jimmy was out on his final loop with pacers Dawn and Sarah.

I showered in the camp facilities, changed out of my muddy sweat-soaked clothing, and had some dinner before it was time cheer Kelsey at the Trip­pin’ ​10k.

This was Kelsey's first post foot surgery race so I was thrilled to see her finish strong in the top 10.

Pacer Sarah and Jimmy finishing the Run Woodstock Hallucination 100
After the Trippin' 10k, Jay, Jason, Kelsey, Krishna, Reece, and I waited near the finish for Jimmy.

We were bursting with pride when we saw Jimmy and pacer Sarah approach. We screamed and ran alongside them to the Finish Line.

For completing the Hallucination 100, Jimmy received a peace sign medal, a Hallucination 100 running hat, and a belt buckle.

Pacer Sarah, Jimmy, pacer Dawn, and Angel Reece (with Jimmy's finisher medal) at Jimmy's Run Woodstock Hallucination 100 finish
In the finish line area, Jimmy ceremoniously gave his Hallucination 100 finisher medal to Reece to symbolize the run Jimmy did for the young angel.

We accompanied our 100 mile Angel Runner finisher back to F.A.S.T. Island and gathered around the warmth of the bonfire.

Pacer Krishna enjoying his first s'more
We celebrated a Run Woodstock weekend of firsts.

Sarah and I completed our first ultra distance race. Pacer Jay, Jimmy, and Timothy ran further than they'd ever run before. Pacer Jason ran 16.6 miles in the middle of the night for the first time. Pacer Sarah did her first trail run. Pacer Dawn did her first night trail run. Kelsey completed her first post-surgery race. And pacer Krishna tie-dyed and ate his first s'more.

Kelsey at the Run Woodstock Flower Power 5 Mile Finish Line
In the morning, Kelsey headed back out for the Flower Power 5 Mile race. I had hoped to do a third race but my right Achilles was tight and I decided against navigating another 5 miles of trail.

While Kelsey raced, we packed up F.A.S.T. Island.

I want to thank the F.A.S.T. Island Angel Runners from the bottom of my heart for an unforgettable weekend of peace, love, music, tie-dye, camping, and running.
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