Next Monday, I'll spend Labor Day running up Mount San Antonio (affectionately known as "Mt. Baldy" in southern California) as a part of the 41st annual Run to the Top of Mt. Baldy race. Not wanting to be too surprised on race day, I figured I'd do the race course as a training run yesterday.
I had truly mixed feelings about this run. The first two miles (on the access road) and the last two miles (scrambling toward the summit, above timberline) are gorgeous.
The middle three or so miles, though, are truly ugly. All the land around the ski lodge (as well as many of the ski runs themselves) are utterly denuded of trees or other foliage, and resemble an industrial mining area.
If you were looking for any additional reasons to oppose commercial development in the mountains, this is it: machinery leaking oil and antifreeze and scattered about like toy cars, ugly fencing sticking up out of the ground everywhere, and long patches of land scraped bare, all topsoil scattered to the winds once the trees and plants were no longer there to hold it down.
I'm still looking forward to the race -- the upper portions of the trail are beautiful, the view from the top is amazing, and completing the challenge of running to the top is something I'll still find satisfying -- but I doubt I'll return to Mt. Baldy once the race is over. It's too depressing to see industry's effect on what was so clearly once a beautiful place.