Trail Run: Marion Mountain Trail – San Bernardino National Forest


2,511 this number represents one of the hardest and craziest trail run’s I’ve done to date! On Friday 8/7/2015 I took my MarionMtn1family on a final summer camping trip to the San Bernardino National Forest for the weekend. We stayed at the Marion Mountain camp ground at an elevation of 6400 feet above sea level.  Coming from San Diego, CA where we are at sea level, the air seemed already thin but waking up early Saturday morning I was not going to let a little thing called oxygen get in the way of me and a trail run.
After all, I’ve not done a picture run for sometime and this seemed like the perfect chance to log another run for my blog; besides I had a brand new set of trail running shoes that I needed to try for the first time since I bought them more then five months ago.
MarionMtn9Just an hour past dawn I was up and putting on my running cloths, where anyone else up was in a jacket and wool cap, I was in a thin running shirt and running shorts. I would tell you that my nipples were hard but I couldn’t feel them using my frozen fingers.  After filling my water bottle with, well you know, water.  I set off for a run; I ran to the trail head and like Morpheus offering the choice of the Blue Pill or the Red Pill. I was offered the choice of the Marion Mountain or the Old Saw Mill trails. I’d never been on either so I thought the Marion Mountain seemed like it would be a nice run and to the Fuller Ridge Trail junction was only 2.4 miles; I’m thinking a gentle meandering run along a mountain trail. I pictured myself running smoothly though the trees, gazing at the mountains in the distance and the rays of the sun as it awakened the forest.
Boy was I dreaming!  I would find out the hard way that I would be running, or attempting to run up a mountain trail MarionMtn10where you would ascend 1016 feet for every mile traveled.  Within the first 1/8 mile I was huffing and puffing and I went from running to hiking really fast and running when the opportunity would arise. At 1.3 miles I found a hiker sitting on a boulder; we greeted each other and he asked if I was enjoying my run; I responded by telling him that I think I chose the wrong trail to run and that I my GPS was lying to me. He asked why and I said “well it says that I’ve only run 1.3 miles and I’m sure I’ve gone further” he told me that the GPS was right I had only gone the 1.3 miles. You can imagine the expletives that rolled around in my brain at that point and after thanking him for his information I ran off saying to myself, only 1.2 miles to go!
The Stairs

The Stairs

1.3 miles, I couldn’t and still didn’t believe that I had only gone 1.3 miles. Well I ran on; sometimes stopping to snap a picture but not long enough to let my heart rate drop too much. By the time I hit the “stairs” (a hike told me the name) my legs were burning and aching. The stairs was a short step section that resembled stair carved out of the Granite. I got off the trail twice and had to back track so by the time I got to the Fuller Ridge Trail junction I had gone 2.47 miles in 84 minutes and attained and elevation of 9811 feet above sea level.  I couldn’t believe it took that long to go 2.47 miles.

Taking some water I contemplated continuing on because the peak was only another 3 miles at an elevation of 10,000 feet. But I had already been gone way longer then I planned and I knew my wife would be getting worried. I did after all run off in to the wilderness with no idea where I was going.
The fun part was going back down and except for the really gnarly places that I was sure to break something; I ran like the mad hatter in Alice in Wonderland, well maybe the White Rabbit because I was late, late, late for in important date.
I’ve got to tell you my trail shoes kick butt! I was flying down the mountain at speeds that even surprised me when I could; I was ricocheting off the sides of the trails, downed trees and boulders. The trail was more active with hikers and I found more often then not I was going off the trail so I didn’t have to stop when hikers blocked my way. As I ran off the path in one section I ran down the side of a boulder and one of the hikers said “Wow you’re brave!” I yelled bake “or just stupid!”
Still there were quite a few places that I needed to take my time getting down the mountain that is if I intended to get down whole. I did the return in 47 minutes, faster then I expected.
Even thought the run/hike tore me up, I think I would do it again; but I would plan it better now that I know the trail. Maybe next time I’ll run up to the peak.
Oh and when I did get back to camp my wife greeted me with “I didn’t think you were coming back” obviously I was gone too long and had her worried.
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12 Responses to Trail Run: Marion Mountain Trail – San Bernardino National Forest

  1. chasingdownhealthy says:

    Aw, she worried. 🙂 Sounds like a really challenging run! Amazing photos

  2. runrodrun says:

    Great pics! And glad you got back safely! I am not a trail runner. I have zero agility and would’ve face planted the whole way down. Kudos to you Bill 👍🏽

    • usabaker says:

      Thanks Rod! I ran cross country in High School so lucky I remember how to run in the dirt :p I was actually surprised I did t face plant, I tripped once or twice going up but caught myself

  3. RunTroyRun says:

    Sounds like an amazing run! Love the pics!

  4. I remember running at full speed down one mountain in particular: Longs Peak in Colorado! Lightning was all around, with nothing but boulder fields! Hopefully that’s the first and last time! I’ll be happy to just walk, thank you!

  5. I am incredibly jealous! Sounds like a great time!

    • usabaker says:

      It was a bit more then I expected but turned out to be great. It kicked my butt though.

      • I hiked about 18 miles in Yosemite up to the half dome shoulder and back about a month ago. Quite the wake up call for a flatlander from Indiana! Kicked my butt but I loved every minute of it!

      • usabaker says:

        Even though I’m from California I live in San Diego so live pretty much at sea level whenever I get to anything above 5000 ft I seem short of breath. Love to run in the forest and mountains but never have time to fully acclimate so I gasp the way up and huff and puff coz I’m bouncing lol all the way back down.

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