Trying to catch up, so here’s the quickest recap ever (well, maybe not ever!): Ran a nine plus mile loop (9.4 mi) on October 2 in Aliso / Wood Canyons. My route: Wood Canyon, Meadows, Top of the World, West Ridge, Wood Canyon. I haven’t been up Meadows in a long time – and it showed with my frequent rests. Also, took off in the late afternoon, and amazingly, I didn’t nearly die. Felt like fall (sorta), with a less than normal searing sun, and occasional sea breezes. So, so ready for fall.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
We still have a bit of non-summer, summer heat to muddle through here in Southern California. I’ve been hitting the gym more than the trails, which isn’t so much because of the heat, but more due to time constraints. Still, if I had all the time in the world, I don’t think I’d be out there running in the heat.
But I did get a little bit of the trail running world this past Saturday. Still coordinating volunteers for Old Goat Trail races, I got to spend the morning and afternoon in the Saddleback Mountains. Honestly, first thing that came to mind when I woke at 4AM was, “I’m sure glad I’m not running this race.”
I drove up with my friend Hank, who swept the marathon course with another friend, Dave. Always nervous to take that windy, fast-paced road in the dark, I couldn’t wait to get home to take a nap. And I thought for sure that when things quieted down up at race head quarters, I’d sneak off to my truck and nap. But I didn’t do that. The day was busy and active. I finally got out of there about 5PM for the one hour drive home.
The volunteers were fantastic, and thankfully because of them, the race really went great. We only had two drops, which is amazing due to the heat out there. Those poor runners looked miserable crossing the finish line, only reiterating the thought, “Thank God I wasn’t running it!” I have run this race twice, and DNF’d once. I’m good for now.
Highlights of the day: working with so many great volunteers who came out to spend the day on the mountain in this heat and asked nothing for it, and seeing a fox run across my path when I was out on a walk up Long Canyon Road.
See pics from behind the scenes:
Friday, September 23, 2016
Someone please remind me to never, ever, ever, EVER run Arroyo Trabuco during the summer. Last weekend, it was still technically summer, and I forgot that I can’t do that trail in the heat. Big mistake. The last 2.5 miles of my ten mile run on this wretched, mostly shade-forsaken trail, I played that game where I had to lay down in the shade every ten minutes or so to recover, cool down and get my heart beating normally. It was awful. AWFUL.
As always, I managed to take a few pictures, none though of myself sprawled out on the dirt floor trying to regain my composure.
So happy to finally close the door on summer (though not necessarily the heat, but that is soon to come)!
Thursday, September 15, 2016
More than two years ago, Silverado Motorway (AKA Silverado Trail, Bedford Trail) was set aflame by a local resident who apparently was attempting to keep wild animals out of his yard. The fire burned about a thousand acres, all mainly up the Motorway. But the Silverado Motorway trailhead is just about fifty yards into Maple Springs Road. Thus, the fire closed down Maple Springs Road in its entirety. That was the first year I coordinated volunteers for Chimera. The 100 mile course had to be altered, which was a minor inconvenience. More importantly, Maple Springs Road, which zig-zags up Silverado Canyon to “Four Corners,” where The Main Divide in two directions, as well as, Harding Truck Trail meet, was completely and totally closed to all traffic. CLOSED. More than TWO years. I cannot tell you how much this weighed on my heart, as it seemed the longer they kept that gate locked and closed signs posted, the more Maple Springs became the only place I ever wanted to be. Go figure.
For a while there, I telephoned the ranger station to inquire when they’d open up the road again. First it was in September they’d open, then in the spring, then the following fall, etc. Eventually, I gave up hope and stopped calling. Part of me wondered if the powers-that-be wanted to keep the road closed for good, perhaps to preserve the land from us trompers.
Last week, I received the glorious news via a Facebook post from a fellow trail runner who lives in Silverado Canyon (perhaps you know him, Greg Hardesty), that Maple Springs is now open.
Be still, my beating heart!
And so it was, last Sunday (9/11), pretty late in the morning, I drove one hour from my seaside town to the tiny, yet wonderful town of Silverado in the Saddleback Mountains. The parking lot at the Maple Springs trailhead was full which was not a surprise -- I’m sure lots of people have longed for Maple Springs over the past two years. But I drove on past that, winding my way up a single lane paved road, relatively crowded with hikers, mountain bikers, bikers and runners. Three and ½ miles in, I rested my truck in a small dirt turnout, just where the paved road ends. And then I strapped on my hydration pack, and made my way up Maple Springs Road to “Four Corners.”
The climb up this truck trail was steep. The sun was hot. But it was all worth it. Surprisingly, not much had changed -- I remembered the same huge boulders, the same fallen trees as I traveled up the rocky road. Maple leaves were just beginning to yellow. A dozen or so four-wheel drivers passed me by, some going up, others down. Not a single person was rude along the way -- everyone either smiled or gave a little wave.
I hiked much of that incline which totaled a little over 4 miles. I also snapped a lot of photos, as if I didn’t already have hundreds of them back at home on hard drives, sd cards, and flash drives (which by the way are scattered all over the place, in plastic baggies, in my book bags, etc). I also scoured the dirt floor for cat tracks, any animal tracks for that matter. I didn’t see any, though the road was so covered with bike tracks that cat tracks could have easily been obliterated. Still, I felt safe, as the mountain was more active than I’ve ever seen it (except for of course, during races).. There have been times that I’d ventured up Maple Springs and didn’t see a single other soul. It was good to have the company my first time out in over two years.
It was good, so good to be back.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Another day off, and it’s so early in the school year. Monday was Labor Day, a national holiday we celebrate in the U.S. that honors the labor movement and the contributions workers have made to this nation that I gladly call home. Most people don’t work on Labor Day, but many, so, so many do – for example, department and grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and such were open. But we had no mail delivered, schools were closed (and so was Costco), trash was not picked up, streets were not swept, and banks shut their doors too.
Traditionally, there is no big celebration for this holiday, though it’s thought of as the last hooray for summer. Mostly, people take quick little trips to the beach or river – they picnic, hike, bike ride, 4-wheel, or have BBQs at home. I did none of the above. But I did get a new kitten – an 8 week old, blue-eyed, white ragdoll mix.
I love her.
Picking up our new kitty, not to mention purchasing all the essentials (bowls, bed, scratcher, litter box, etc), put me way off schedule concerning squeezing in a run on this Labor Day. I got out pretty late, about 4PM, which was a good thing. It was a good thing because the weather was rather mild and breezy by that time. It really was the best weather for an end-of-the-summer Labor Day run. And being out this late in the day, most people had ended their adventures, returning home for that BBQ dinner in the backyard, thus the trails were fairly empty. I myself had dinner cooking in a slow-cooker (beef stroganoff), so I had all the time in the world.
In all, I put in a tad over 7 miles, running all of Wood Canyon in Aliso Viejo in its entirety and back. Nothing spectacular happened. But it was a spectacular run.
Happy Labor Day!
Sunday, September 4, 2016
Work was cancelled for me Friday, which freed up many hours to get my house in order. Unfortunately, no matter what I do, I always feel like my house is not in order. But I keep trying. So, after getting my youngest off to school, I loaded the truck up with boxes of books, toys, clothing and such to drop off at the Salvation Army. Back at home I vacuumed floors, cleaned the bathroom, washed dishes and laundry. Finally, about 12:30 PM, I filled my hydration pack with water and popped in a Nuun tablet, put on my running shoes, and drove the toll road through the coastal hills to Ridge Park in Newport Coast.
My feet finally hit dirt around 1PM, and it was hot. I didn’t expect anything less – it was after all September 2 (just about the hottest time of the year around here). The heat is the reason I opted to stay up on the ridges overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You’d think with no shade whatsoever, the ridges would be the hottest spots on trails. But not in the coastal hills – up on the ridges is where you get to feel the ocean breezes. And up on the ridges is also where you get the awesome views.
I chose an out-and-back for simplicity’s sake. I’ve been going for the out-and-back’s lately, even though I really am a loop gal. It’s much easier to come up with a route with the precise mileage I want with an out-and-back. I simply turn around and head back at the half-way mark. On Friday, I figured I’d go for 7 or 8 miles, and the best way to do this was Bommer Ridge to Moro Ridge and back. In my mind, I felt that Moro Ridge was at most 2 miles.
I suppose it was the heat of the day, and time as well, that made the trails virtually empty on this day. The emptiness was serene. I felt comforted by it, and secure and confident in the loneliness. I especially like empty trails in the coastal hills where I feel relatively safe. I am rarely without cell service in these areas, and access is not so remote should I find myself injured.
Ended up that Moro Ridge was significantly longer than I remembered. I ran it up until the trail starts to descend down toward Pacific Coast Highway. That put me at about the 4.6 mile mark. Though the return trip was mainly uphill, I did not find it excruciatingly difficult, as the incline was gradual. Don’t get me wrong – it still wiped me out, but it didn’t beat me up and spit me out. Though nearly sweltering, this run with a view was well worth the time, and I’m thinking it did me good, by pushing my mileage up just a tad. And even if it didn’t, it was still nice to be out in the not so remote wilderness overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Total miles: 9.2, Elevation gain: 800’
Friday, September 2, 2016
I’m a little behind here in jotting down my runs, so here it goes quick as can be: Last Sunday, August 28, I had the rare opportunity of late to run in the mountains and with friends. I met long time running friend Sheila and her friend Robert at Santiago Truck Trail in the Saddleback Mountains, and we did 7+ mile out-and-back to the flagpole. Sheila and I have run this on other occasions, but it was Robert’s first along this single-track that was once a truck trail.
As we do on group runs, the distance between us lengthened at many points, with Robert up ahead, Sheila in the middle, and me at the tail (no surprise there ). Having started off fairly early (8AM – which is pretty dang early for me, not so for Sheila), we escaped some of the heat. But by the time Sheila and I reached the flagpole across from the vulture crags, it was starting to warm up significantly. Herein is where the adventure lies in this story: Robert was not at the flagpole. And we didn’t see him pass us if he had headed back.
Certain that he must have kept on running for some extra miles, Sheila headed off further along the trail to check around the bend about a three-quarters of a mile away. I stayed back taking in majestic scenes. I wasn’t ready to increase mileage yet at this point. I am trying to be very careful about that, mainly at my husband’s urgings. Alas, Sheila returned empty handed, having not seen any sign of Robert. That’s when some of the mountain bikers overhead us talking and said they had seen a runner some miles back asking if they had seen two women running. They hadn’t of course at the point, and what the heck was Robert doing back there anyway – surely we would have seen him pass us along the trail!
Perplexed, we headed off back toward the trailhead. And it donned on me – he must have gone to the other flagpole! “What other flagpole?” Sheila proclaimed. Hehe, now that was funny. Sadly, I had never mentioned the other flagpole. I myself hadn’t even noticed the other flagpole until after many runs along this trail, and it isn’t actually on Santiago Truck Trail. The other flagpole flies up on a hill that you need to take another trail up to. I’ve trekked up there before – and it was not fun, so steep and rocky, and overgrown the trail was.
Well, to make a long story short, I’ll quicken it up right here to say that, yes indeed, Robert did go to the wrong flagpole. Frankly, I was amused, and love stories like this. You can imagine how he felt when he ran back to the cars to see that we weren’t there. It was a mystery to Robert until he took his phone out of the car and called Sheila on the trail. So, turns out this was not all for moot – I found out (never really knew) that we have cell phone service on Santiago Truck Trail. And from that point on, I couldn’t get this song out of my head: Flagpole Sitta (by Harvey Danger). The tune lingered in my mind all day long.