“We’re supposed to run here?” F asked.
We had pulled up just past the entrance to the Winchester Gun Club, where West Camino Cielo transitions from pavement to dirt. Along one side of the dirt road were 2 red flags warning us of the shooting zone. At the start of the dirt road was a rusty sign punctured by numerous bullet holes.
“Yes. This was a leg of Are You Tough Enough. We’re tough. We’ll be fine!”
The trail itself was in between the shooting areas. Highly unlikely that we’d get caught in any crossfire, right? Still, we cautiously, yet quickly, started our run down the steep hill and were relieved to leave the shooting zone behind us.
West Camino Cielo follows the ridgeline of the Santa Ynez mountains. We ran the portion of it that is all dirt and currently closed to motorized vehicles. The views are, you guessed it, UH-MAZE-ING. On one side we had panoramic views of SB/Goleta and the sparkling deep blue Pacific Ocean stretching out to the Channel Islands. On the other side we enjoyed views of Lake Cachuma, the Santa Ynez Valley, layers of ridges and a few snow capped mountains further beyond in the distance. The run was a steady, challenging climb up toward Broadcast Peak on a warm, sunny morning. Yup, another day in trail running paradise. (I tried not to pay too close attention to the other signs and junk that people hauled out and used for shooting practice along the trail.)
When we got back to our car, we were greeted with gunshots and squeals from amateur shooters at the Gun Club.
“I don’t trust those shooters,” I told F as we watched a group of squealing co-eds shooting away less than 100 feet from our parked car.
F and I felt like we were in a war zone wondering if we should take cover behind our car. Instead we decided to walk back down the trail a few dozen feet to a more protected area behind a small hill. After a few minutes of cool-down and stretching while trying to converse above the piercing sounds of gunfire, we heard one shot ricochet and decided to get the f*%@ outta there.
Our total mileage was 15.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 2491 feet. Not too shabby. And it was F’s longest run to date. Montana de Oro here we come!