No rattlesnakes on this run, thank goodness. I decided to trudge up the road -- which I don't really like most days -- to see if taking it easy while the body warmed up would keep me from gasping and feeling like I was going to suffocate. It wasn't too bad, though I tried to run hard at the top and had to walk the top part.
Note the finger of rock on the far right of the photo below, because the two rock photos below are from that area:
I walked the edge of the cliff again, because it's interesting. The "finger" of rock from the top photo is below on the left.
This area is like a bowl of rock, with a thin edge about 4 feet wide, cliffs on the west and a deep basin on the east. The basin is actually more of a drop than the cliffs, which have a series of ledges every 10 feet or so.
I walked the traverse to stare at the raised block of rock in the middle, which prevents easy passage. I stepped down into the gap in front of this rock (not visible) and stared down, through a wide crack that I'd have to step across with some good exposure on the left. It's really more of a hop down and over, than a step. You'd have to find your balance and grab onto something, so at this point it's not something I would attempt.
The block itself is also something I could not climb over, being somewhat convex and smooth, but I noticed there are steps on the right. I couldn't see around the block on that side, but I could approach from the base of the cliffs and check it out.
I sat there for a while, getting used to the heights, then carefully turned around, stepped back up to the top surface, and walked off the traverse.
I didn't want to do the complete circuit, so I cut across the top of the mountain instead of all the way around. I decided to take a road on the north side (part of the Mesa Top Trail) I had used years ago but rarely take. Eventually I found it, and started descending.
And descending. And descending.
I actually thought this road was just a short drop over the edge, but it turns out it's about 1/2 mile and 400 feet down through a short valley. I could barely see the dark hills dropping away around me, the lights from homes barely even visible ahead. How far was this? I wondered...
But before long I was down on the North Table Loop and on familiar trails.
Distance was 6.89 miles, time 1:43 (moving 1:20), elevation gain/loss 1,132 feet, avg. pace 15:00 (moving 11:43), and best pace 8:09.