Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner

Love Me Some Mountains

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As my life continues to zoom about, so does my attention span. I’ve, yet again, managed to squeeze in an inordinate amount of action and miles on my odometer in a relatively short amount of time. Hang with me here, it’s a long read, but packed with good bits.

Mountains! Fast people! Running! Hippie cafés! Professional strides!

Have I got ya hooked?


I’ve been meaning to visit this distance-running fairytale of a location for well over a year now. Since I’m in a non-location specific part of life right now, I figured it was a good time to actually go.

Mammoth came on my radar awhile ago, as several older Chico State cross country alum now call it home, specifically for training reasons. Other badasses/elites call it home for training too, as the Mammoth Track Club tears it up on a regular basis (Chico State’s Scott Bauhs being one of these guys).

With a fresh wad of cash from a one-night catering gig in Chico, I filled my gas tank (by the way, the recent hike in gas prices isn’t exactly conducive to my hobo lifestyle) and set off to meet Mr. Jimmy Elam in Rocklin for a cup of coffee before following him caravan-style through the drive to the mountains.

I arrived to an at least a 20-degree drop and walked into a condo scattered with running shoes, marking a classic runners’ household. This one belonged to Alan, Jimmy and their Jordanian roommate, Mo.

After some small talk, we set off on an aerobic run around Lake Mary for my first taste of Mammoth-trail-crack. Surrounded by snow-dusted mountain-tops, and a fox sighting, I was almost distracted from the lack of available oxygen until Alan proudly tapped a road-sign as we cruised by our third mile or so.

Elevation: 8910 ft.

My poor sea-level coddled lungs.

I spent the rest of my short trip being treated to several of the guys’ favorite spots to eat, enjoying a 14-mile long run Sunday morning with Lindsay Tollefson (yet another Chico State alum), a gorgeous hike, and some beer with true personality at Mammoth Brewing Company.

I think I’m in love with the town.


I departed Monday morning, but not before an aerobic run with marathon icon and American record-holder Deena Kastor.

Can awesomeness rub off? I can only hope so as my debut in the marathon creeps closer (CIM, December 2nd! Gah!).

Being in Mammoth in general helped simultaneously calm me down, and pump me up, if that’s possible. I feel like I have so much unfinished business with the sport, and am welcoming the overwhelming calm in knowing that I want to continue, knowing that I want to find a way to make this work in my life.

I suppose I’m using the word “calm” synonymously with “certainty” or “assuredness.” Whatever the word, these feelings seem difficult to come by of late.

Lucky me.


I left feeling gratitude toward so many areas of life. Gratitude toward the gracious hospitality I’ve continued to receive, gratitude to my ability to explore, gratitude to my health and my continuation with training, and gratitude to everyone who’s helped and supported me along the way.

I took Tioga pass back, enveloping me in more breathtaking wilderness and leading me through a section of Yosemite. It also cut off cell service for a good portion of the drive.

Just me and the road. Ah, confused hobo relaxation.

Mountain Sage

In my more obscure route home, I stumbled across possibly one of the coolest little cafés I have ever had the pleasure of stumbling across.

Side note: for those of you who don’t know, I’m slightly obsessed with cafés. The ones with good-vibes. When I was in high school, I told everyone that I wanted to grow up and own a café that displayed work by local artists. As I got older, that idea evolved to also include a beer and wine bar. Who knows, maybe this is still in my future. But mostly, I think the idea stems from my notion of a place that I want to exist to hang out in. 

ANYWAY, this place was situated in the heart of Groveland, an area with a bustling population of 601, according to the ever-accurate Wikipedia. Essentially, one of those teeny-tiny-itty-bitty towns that can be driven through in a matter of minutes.

But, knowing the length of the drive ahead of me, the boldly carved wooden sign bearing the beautiful word ‘coffee’ lured me in.

Turns out, this place is a café, photo gallery, and herb garden, all in one. You walk into an actual house, follow the signs past a cozy living room situated with a furnace and comfy chairs and couches for lounging to the coffee house in the back.

Oh, and there’s a tree randomly growing in the living room. Of course I loved it.

The coffee bar itself was in a cute outdoor setting, surrounded by the herb garden. The coffee dude wore a “Pre Lives” shirt, a distance runner dead give-away (clearly a sign that I was meant to stop here). We chatted running for a couple minutes, and I assured him that marathon training wouldn’t be a gateway addiction to ultra-running.

I downed my Americano, strolled around the photo gallery for a couple minutes, and was back on my way.

Little Miss Professional

I returned from Mammoth late Monday night, chased daylight for about five minutes of my second run before succumbing to a street-light lit concrete shake-out.

Though I could have remained in the mountains for a many more days, weeks, months, etc., I needed to get myself back to the bay area prepare for some late-week professional ventures in San Francisco.

That’s right, it’s time for this lady to put the yoga pants and hoodie aside for a day and flex her college-degree-journalistic-public-relations muscles.

New adventure?

Random Wrap-Ups

For anyone trying to keep track, here’s the quick and dirty version of my physical/mind location:

  1. Still flitting about location-wise, but can mainly be found between Santa Rosa and Chico
  2. Running for the Sacramento Running Association (*this marks the only real commitment I’ve made recently)
  3. In training for my first marathon
  4. Job searching in San Francisco for PR and journalism related work
  5. Remaining a little too stoked (really, watch the video)

Until next time…


Author: Alia Teixido Gray

I like reading, writing, running, and drinking coffee. Lots of it.

One thought on “Love Me Some Mountains

  1. Mammoth looks beautiful, thanks for sharing:)
    way too stoked – Craig

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