New Merit Badge Requirement

Hey Webelos and Girl Guides, planning to camp out with us on the Merit badgeBackbone Trail in 2014? Not that you need the prompting, but since the playground’s in need of a little extra upkeep this year, we’ve added a day’s worth of trail work to the entrance requirements for Game 2. We aren’t going to require that you submit proof of completion prior to entry or put an exact number of hours on this – it’s really about scout’s honor and giving back to the trails. ‘Course we might randomly ask you about where and when you “served”, or dish out a little extra pre-race schwag to those who went above and beyond the call of doodie duty.

We’ll keep you posted on upcoming trail work opportunities in the Santa Monica Mountains (or you can follow the SMMTC page here), but of course whatever trail you decide to whack away at is fine by us.

Pic below is from Overlook Trail in La Jolla Canyon, taken about a month ago. Looks a bit different from last year, but we think it’s actually beautiful in a Tim Burton-ey kind of way.

Image by Gretchen Garnett

Image by Gretchen Garnett

Opening Day

H’ard Cohen reporting from the field:

Today the California State Parks opened the remaining portions of Point Mugu State Park that were impacted by the Springs Fire. I ventured down the black b*tch hill (that’s the inland end of the trail for you non-locals) and ran up Little Sycamore Canyon. Definitely “toasted” including an unfortunate Alligator Lizard. The Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council was repairing this trail on Wednesday of this week and did a fine job removing deadfall and rocks from the trail.

Photo courtesy Howard Cohen

Photo courtesy Howard Cohen

Photo courtesy Howard Cohen

Photo courtesy Howard Cohen

Post Springs Fire Trail Work

Photo courtesy Howard Cohen

Photo courtesy Howard Cohen

Time to get busy: the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Council (SMMTC) has created the first two trail work events devoted specifically to restoration of the Backbone Trail following the Springs Fire. See details below, and for a full and dynamic list of all SMMTC trail work opportunities throughout the year, click here.

Please RSVP for one or both dates to Howard Cohen: howard(at) so he can let his SMMTC compadres know how many players to expect. Brownie points and gold stars awarded to all who attend.

Sat, June 8, 8:30 am – 2:00 pm AND
Sat, June 15, 8:30 am – 2:00 pm
Meet at: 4128 W Potrero Rd (at Wendy Dr), Thousand Oaks, CA 91361 (map)

BRING: water, lunch, work gloves, eye protection, sunscreen, hat; wear sturdy shoes, long sleeve shirt, long pants. Tools are provided.

Springing Ahead and Giving Back

The Springs Fire that ignited on May 2nd, 2013 in the western portion of the Santa Monica Mountains ultimately burned more than 24,000 acres, including 14,000 acres of park land through which the Backbone Trail passes. It was big, and intense, and it was stared down and beaten back by truckloads of firefighters who were far less pampered during their Backbone experience than y’all were. The image below is part of a particularly hair raising (hair singe-ing?) set from local but internationally recognized photographer David Pu’u, who writes about his don’t-try-this-from-home photo shoot here.

Photo courtesy David Pu'u

Courtesy David Pu’u Photography

The Patio is a bit less inviting at the moment, and the view beyond is, well, kinda lunar.

Photo courtesy Jerry Gonzales

Photo courtesy Jerry Gonzales

But as the church sign says, don’t look back, ’cause we ain’t going that way. Nature will do her recovery thing of course – per the NPS  “the first spring following a fire there is dramatic vegetation recovery on barren, blackened hillsides from resprouting shrubs and herbaceous perennials, germinating shrub seedlings, and an abundance of colorful native annuals. Within about 10 years at coastal sites and 20 years at inland sites, the canopy of the dominant shrubs begins to close.” And firefighters, scientists and local Coyote Cohorts (updates on trail openings and other park alerts are here) are already reporting a variety of critters coming back out to play.

Photo courtesy Ventura County Fire Department

And we terrifically lucky few who got to romp across the whole of the Backbone Trail before it was temporarily besmirched have MANY opportunities to help restore the playground. We’ll keep you posted on volunteer opportunities from here and on Facebook, but for first-hand updates on how you can help, sign up for notices from the National Park Service here. And check out the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Convervancy (SMMTC) trail maintenance calendar here. You don’t need to wait for an invitation. Not a local? Read on for how you can help too.

For those of you who have not yet purchased official event photos, now is the time. Jayme Burtis has generously offered to donate HALF of the purchase price to the SMMTC to be used towards recovery efforts. Seriously, these images are sick, he is the real deal and a true cohort.

Courtesy Jayme Burtis

Courtesy Jayme Burtis

His website is here. Visit now. Oh, and in the spirit of new beginnings, check out his son Ocean, in his element and a future Backboner for certain.

Courtesy Jayme Burtis

Courtesy Jayme Burtis

Treat yourself: Jayme Burtis’ game day photos now online

1,379 memories of the Coyote Backbone Trail Ultra await you here on Jayme Burtis’ website. He was, of course, our official game day photographer, and he captured some pretty sweet images of y’all in full Coyote splendor.

To purchase the images just click on the thumbnail to enlarge and a Buy Image icon will appear. Easy peasy.

Kathy Jumping

Group Hug!

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells…where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits  for you. – Edward Abbey

A gift from your fellow 2013 Backbone Trail Ultra player Jeff Martin. Sheds a bit more perspective on the reasons for our “official” timing calculations, and a lot more perspective on why we all do what we do. Sniff, makes us a bit verklempt, truly.

Thanks a heap, Jeff, you are the ranch dressing on our curly fries. And thanks to everyone who came out to play with us – happy trails!

Jeff Martin video_screen grab

Oh, and that song? “Many the Miles” by Sara Bareilles; live recording here.

Game Results, Coyote-Style


How much fun was that??? As you tend to the agony of da’ feet, you can also now peruse the official results (perhaps an oxy-moroon at a Coyote event) on our website here.

No doubt they may make the rookies amongst you take pause, especially those who failed to fully wrap their minds around the concept of bonus and boner minutes. Gosh, your clock time doesn’t match what we show?!!?  Dweezleberry McFermentire finished a full hour behind you but his time is an hour faster?  That’s cuz Dweezleberry played by Coyote rules:  entertain those supporting your cause, and they’ll reward you with bonus minutes.  Hence Blisteroon’s almost 7 hour improvement in time because he “rapped” his way to the finish — 5 minutes to entertain, 5 minutes to socialize and replenish himself, and 30 bonus minutes. Capiche?

A Teaser: Official Game Day Photos from Jayme Burtis

Here’s a sneak peak of some amazing captures of some amazing players on an amazing course (but then we’re a bit biased.) We really should have had a GPS on Jayme Burtis, our official Coyote Backbone Trail Ultra event photographer – he was EVERYwhere, preserving the event experience for you forever, so you can always revisit the day (kind of like flashbacks.)

More images to follow, which you will be able to purchase from his website. Note: we paid him only in mancakes and beautiful memories, so we hope you will compensate him properly for any images you use. Thanks Jayme!!!!

Krissy bouldering

Safety Crews: Somebunny Loves You

There are three types of safety patrols who will be supporting you between aid stations along the Backbone Trail: safety runners, mountain biking units, and mounted volunteer patrols (on horseback). Should they find a player in need of assistance, they will be prepared with water, electrolytes, and basic first aid;  if needed, they will go to the next aid station ahead of the entrant and report the issue. They are spending their Easter weekend ensuring that you are safe and happy, so you might want to show them some serious love, yes?


Trippet Ranch to Piuma (10am –  4pm): Erica Gratton, Skye Colclough, Jeff Sperber

Encinal to Corral Canyon 9.0 miles (5:30pm to 11:30pm): Erik Schulte, Ignasi (Nacho) Mas

Encinal to Mishe Mokwa 11.1 miles (6:00pm to 12:00am): Donovan Jenkins, Tiffany Guerra, Anne-Claire Podlipski

Danielson Ranch to Moshe Mokwa 7.2 miles (early am to 8:00am): Mieko Morita, Erik Priedkalns

Finish Line to Overlook Crossing with Wood Canyon Vista (1:00am to 9:30am): TBD, will be staffed from Finish Line personnel


Topanga and Will Rogers State Park: Chris Nitz, Charles Trotter


Will Rogers State Park to Hub (8:30-12:30): Stacey Best, John Weiler, Paul Kanzawa, James Grasso

Topanga State Park (10:30-2:00): Gary Artis, Jim Henderson, Jose Macias, Bob Opperman

Piuma/Corral Canyon (2:30-6:30): Paul Kanzawa, James Grasso, Brad Souva, Kristain Versaies


Trail sweeps will be the last runners along each section of the trail, and will shut down the event as they go. They will contact the aid station captain when they arrive at the end of their assigned section, and confer with them regarding players that have not checked in. The Aid Station Captain and HAM Operator will then contact HAM Base/NetControl to research the entrant’s status and analyze next steps.

Will Rogers to Stunt Rd:  Jim Tello

Stunt Rd to Corral Canyon: Erin Chavin, Alison Chavez

Corral Canyon to Kanan RD: Chuck Journey, Cat Moore

Kanan Rd to Mishe Mokwa: Jonathan Toker, Jonathan Stewart

Mishe Mokwa to Danielson: Mieko Morita, Erik Priedkalns

Danielson Ranch to Finish: Sachin Sachdeva