TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Birthday Run Between Rains

I know we are making the news and all because of our storms. But seriously, how long have these reporters lived in Southern California anyway? Short memories is what I say. We had floods before, we had have downpours, sinkholes and slides before. It’s true like the song says, “It never rains in California, but girl don’t they warn ya . . . it pours . . . man it pours.”

Rain is nothing new for a fifty-two year old, born and raised in Southern California. I do not have a short memory. My memory is full of many droughts that last a few years, and many, many rains. I remember as a young girl sitting at the kitchen table and looking out onto the flooded cul-de-sac street wondering, “Is it ever gonna stop raining!!!” I remember traipsing around huge puddles at school, and creeks ploughing new routes. Gosh. Were where those news reporters then? It looks like right now, we are ending one of those droughts, finally getting us some rain. That’s all, simple as that.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIn between it all, and on my 52nd birthday, I got in a “trail” after teaching one class, and on the way home to rest up before teaching another this past Thursday, on February 16. The place: Quail Hill in Irvine. The route: along the elliptical trail that over looks Interstate 405, and everything else lovely and not in The O.C. Got in a little over 5.5 miles, with only a little elevation gain. But it was good enough, as not soon after, the rain began to fall, and didn’t let up for nearly two days.

Thank you rains for all the green! The hills look so lush, I’m tempted to just drop to the ground and roll around in the grass (if it wasn’t for all those tics that might attach themselves to my flesh – eek!)

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Not for Naught

Trails are far and few between lately, especially with all the rain, and all the hours at work. I won’t give up, and at even at the very least, if I can still get out there and hit the dirt here and again, I know that it’s “not for naught.”

I mean after all . . .

(2/5, 7 miles, Wood Canyon):SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES(2/12, 12 miles, Arroyo Trabuco):SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Monday, February 6, 2017

Maple Springs–a Slice of Heaven

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI left my home under darkness Saturday morning – FINALLY, I hit the trails early in the morning. This I have to thank to Sheila and Robert who met me at the Maple Springs trailhead and accompanied me for the first three miles of this out-and-back.  (I remember fondly back when I was a true morning person – now I’m neither – not a night or morning person, just a tired person).

There were many creek crossings along the way to the dirt road that makes its way up to Four Corners. I gingerly made my way across hoping from rock to rock, following Sheila’s lead (who by the way has amazing grace and balance). And though it’s only a minimal climb those first three miles, I was feeling it when my friends had to turn back. And it was kinda sad to see them go, but at the same time, I knew that I would relish the alone time.

I didn’t do much running on the way up Maple Springs Road. The climb gets quite steep compared to what I’m used to. It was a strenuous hike much of the way. And one filled with handfuls of joyful people making the same trek, both by foot and mountain bike. Our rains turned the mountain sides green, and left behind muddy ground and puddles along the way. The weather was cold too (delight! delight!). Though I found the trek up difficult, I never once regretted my decision of going to Four Corners, nor did I even think once of cutting it short.

I ran all the miles back to my truck, which made my trip a total of 15 miles. Understandably, that last stretch was quite miserable – the bottoms of my feet hurt. Hell, my whole body hurt, as it was difficult focusing and keeping up the core strength so that I did not fall on the way back. I had no strength to hop rocks across the creek. So, I just splashed through the wonderfully cold water. But, oh, did I suffer back at home. Barely able to make it up the front steps, I grabbed some lunch (if my memory serves me correctly, I believe I heated up some frozen fish and rice). Then I soaked in a warm bath for a good long time, which refreshed me some. But by 4:00 PM, I was so wiped out, unable to even do the simplest chores, I fell asleep on the living room coach. I asked my middle son to wake me at 4:30 because I wanted to prepare dinner for the family. At 4:30 when he woke me, I said, “Okay, make it 5:00 instead.” Then at 5:00, I said, “5:30,” and that’s when my husband said, “No, don’t start dinner til 6:00, rest til then.” And that I did. (Elevation gain for that 15 miles was nearly 3,000’ and I’m not used to that anymore . . . but I will be Smile)

For dinner, I prepared tacos.

2 4 17A2 4 17

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Modified Out-and-Back

Sunday afternoon, I went for a run in a usual place (Wood Canyon). But I decided to modify my regular out-and-back because there’s just no adventure in an out-and-back that I’ve done over and over again, especially when the weather is fine, and the trails are so tranquil. There’s just really no danger. And I need to have some reason to carry my weapons after all. Winking smile

I stuck to Wood Canyon in its entirety on the out portion because I didn’t want to mess with its glorious gradual downhill practically the entire way. (Still, it was difficult – hehe, I am so out of shape!)

Wood Canyon:

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On the back portion of this modified out-and-back, I took a detour off of Wood Canyon and ran into Mathis Canyon where I caught Coyote Run Trail. This is a lovely single-track, with some shade, and plenty of mountain bikers (wherein lies the danger Smile). After being dumped out into Wood Canyon again, I took another detour. This time onto a little known trail called Wood Creek. There’s no trail marker at the entrance, and in some parts it’s morose and dark because the lush canopy blots out the sunlight. Seriously. There’s moss and mushrooms growing in the brush. And I even get to climb two flights of stairs, which proved quite strenuous for me on Sunday. And best of all (even though I really do love people), I didn’t see a single soul – just dainty little wild flowers and some maiden hair ferns. If I had fallen and broken my leg, who knows how long someone would have come along to help. (The taste of danger!) It’s a secret trail, so shhhhh. There’s only a trail marker at one end, and it looks so unassuming that few venture there. So don’t tell anyone!

(total miles on Sunday, 7.21)

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Oh, one more thing. I started recording miles in 2017. January results are in. Looking forward to increasing in February:

Cycle (stationary @ the gym): 83.71 miles

Elliptical: 41.85 miles

Ran: 57.27 miles, 5,454’ elevation gained

Happy February!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

SST in the Green

I find it very difficult to wake early on the weekends nowadays. But being that I want to get back into shape, and weekends are the only time to run mountain trails, I grudgingly woke at 6:00 am. And then I promptly tapped the phone screen for a nine minute snooze. And then I did it again, and again, and again, and again. I wasn’t out the door until 9:30 am. So much for setting the alarm.

Due to the fact that I got such a late start, I decided on Santiago Truck Trail (STT). The reason this is such a good trail to run on late-start mornings is because it only takes about thirty minutes to drive there – and more importantly, it’s paved the entire way, with no off-roading. To add a special touch – the drive is delightful, with a turn off into Modjeska Canyon and a windy drive through a couple of tree canopy tunnels.

So, I didn’t do what I had planned today. I didn’t beat myself up over it. At least I was out there, and got to wander about in the wilderness. Even saw three runners that I know on STT. And the hills were so lush and green. Absolutely beautiful. I wasted a lot of time pulling the camera out of my pack.

Miles: 7.22, Elevation gain: 1,376’

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Calico, Rain and Quail Loop

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEven though the Calico Ghost Town trail run was cancelled due to impending weather, we made it out to Calico this year once again. Tenth consecutive year for me, ninth for my husband and sons. The streets downtown were like a real life ghost town – empty. It was lovely. Stayed in our usual accommodations, The Bunk House, which houses about twenty bunk beds – more than enough for our party of seven.  We had a campfire roaring for most of the night, a trip downtown, some shopping and a stroll through the cemetery (which is supposedly haunted). We also had a superb dinner in Barstow. I know some of you might be thinking, in Barstow? Yes, Barstow. We found a gem last year – an Italian restaurant called DiNapoli's Firehouse. I had the lasagna.

Then for the first time ever, I got to stay up late  at The Bunk House since I didn’t have to run twenty miles the next day. Still, the boys we brought along with us stayed up even later (except for my middle son, who so diligently goes to bed at a decent hour every night!). I slept soundly, warm and cozy with freezing temperatures outside. I woke around 6AM and simply stayed in my sleeping bag until 10AM – four hours doing absolutely nothing!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSo, it barely rained Sunday morning, the day of the cancelled race. But by noon, we got some downpours downtown. After more shopping, some attractions and lunch at the Calico restaurant, we departed at 2:45PM, foolishly hoping to make it down the mountain before a terrible storm hit. No such luck. Sometime after Barstow, but before Victorville, a storm set in over a double rainbow that stretched across the sky.

rainbow pic

The drive really was a treacherous one (and I wasn’t even driving!). For my husband it was a white knuckler. Visibility was close to zero, and the rain never let up. The radio station kept blaring its loud emergency broadcasting signal as our phones relayed messages that we were in a dangerous zone, in a state-of-emergency with warnings of flash floods and slides. Drivers drove with their hazard lights blinking, and not a person travelled over thirty miles per hour. The worst of it was going down the Cajon Pass. Traffic moved along at about ten miles an hour here – which is a good thing really. My biggest concern were the big rigs, or any driver for that matter, behind us – with visibility so poor, it was only a matter of time before someone slammed into another. But that didn’t happen – nor did it happen anywhere around us (though I did witness sirens and emergency activity down in a valley somewhere near the junction to Wrightwood).

We got lots more rain in Southern California the following Monday. All the creeks were following rapids out to the ocean. (So sad to see all that water flow away!). I didn’t get out for a run until Thursday (1/26), though I got in some cardio at the gym a few days before that. Being a freeway flyer (that is teaching at three different schools, flying down the freeway from one class to another), I need to find trails directly off the freeway. One such trail system is in Shady Canyon. I got in 5.23 miles on Thursday running the Quail Loop Trail that overlooks the 405 freeway and all of Irvine and beyond. The loop is about 1.75 miles, and gloriously green from all the rain we’ve been having. Not exactly wilderness. But it sure beats pounding the pavement.

Until next time, some pictures from Quail Loop:

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Road to Calico

This past Monday was the last opportunity for me to put in any miles before the Calico Ghost town race this upcoming weekend. So out of shape am I, I chose the relatively flat trail of Arroyo Trabuco for a little over twelve miles of out-and-back.

With all of our rain, the hills were green, and the creeks were flowing. What a delight to my senses! I made the first creek crossing dry, but ended up with wet feet at creek crossing number two. And I still had eleven miles to go! I cannot stress enough how difficult putting in the miles was on this big, old body. The beauty of it all, and the fact that I have the route mentally packaged into three distinct parts (x 2) helped to get me through it.

In a nutshell, Part I starts on Tijeras Creek Trail and meets up with Arroyo Trabuco about a mile in. This part runs a little over two miles with lots of shade, forests, meadows and two creek crossings. It ends with a climb up to Part II, which runs a little under two miles. Part II is not my favorite part. It’s void of shade, flat with a some-of-the-time a view of The Saddleback Mountains. It can be beautiful, but it’s so dang hot. Part III is a big welcome, as it begins with a down hill into more forest. There’s also more creek crossings, both wet and dry, and some street noise from the gigantic highway overpasses (two or three, can’t be sure right now). Part III ends in O’Neill park where I get clean restrooms with running water. It’s all very lovely, a great place to turn around and do it all again back to the truck.

Well, based on the fatigue factor for this run, Calico was surely going to kill me. Well, not literally kill me (hopefully anyway), but for sure beat the heck out of me. My game plan – just take it easy, enjoy the scenery, and hike all the inclines, running only the downhills and flats. That was my plan, and I was good with that, even rolling in last place. But then . . .  the race was cancelled. CANCELLED. My tenth year at Calico was cancelled due to the expected rain.

Well shucks.

The parts of Monday’s run:

Part I (& VI on the return):SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPart II (& V on the return):SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPart III (& IV on the return):SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES