Thursday, February 2, 2023

Mercy Hike


My husband knows when I need to get out and wander. Years ago, he used to plead with me to get out and hit the trails (on my lazy days that is – otherwise I was driving on the road before sunrise). Now that I am without wheels, hitting the trails is difficult. It’s always somewhat difficult but now, almost impossible because I just cannot take the only car we have right now and head off to the mountains. It doesn’t seem fair. In fact, it seems selfish. I don’t want to be selfish.

This past Thursday, I mumbled something about trying to get out the next day for a hike. My husband jumped at the idea and offered to come along. Usually, I do the asking. But he offered. So, the last Friday in January (1/27), we headed out the door at about 9:30 am for a nice long stroll along The Great Suburban Trail, known by everyone else as Arroyo Trabuco Trail. After a 20 minute commute, we parked in the lot of a small Las Flores park. Then we crossed Antonio Parkway and caught a trail that took us behind a planned community where we hiked down a steep service road to Tijeras Creek Trail for a 12+ mile stroll to O’Neill Park.

The Green of a Southern California winter surrounded us. Chartreuse colored carpets of grass filled the meadows, clumps of green mistletoe hung from giant sycamores. Tijeras and Arroyo Trabuco were both flowing nicely, in addition to multiple tributaries meandering throughout the basin. Scrambling through the brush, we couldn’t find a place to cross Tijeras Creek, so for the first creek crossing, I removed my shoes and socks and waded through the ice cold water over hard slippery rocks. Well, that was enough of that. There were just too many crossings to do this every time.

Tijeras Creek Crossing:IMG_1093

Near Tijeras Creek & Arroyo Trabuco Creek Junction:IMG_1096

Felt so good to get out and get my legs moving. I didn’t mind the wet feet. I even packed a spare pair of socks that I didn’t change into. I admit, I was a little tired on the return. But I like that feeling – it’s familiar, and it’s rewarding. I often use the words “trashed” or “thrashed” to describe that feeling of really overworking the body. Well, I didn’t get trashed on this adventure. But it was close. Toward the end,  I was beginning to feel it in my hamstrings and quads. (Hurts so good!)

Back at home, I thanked my husband for my mercy hike.

He asked, “Is that what that was?”


“ Well, I sometimes have you do things you don’t really want to do.”


More of the Great Suburban Trail:IMG_1107 IMG_1124IMG_1128IMG_1131IMG_1133IMG_1137IMG_1139

A little over 12.5 miles

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Historic Hike–Abandoned Old West, Antimony Mines, Southern Utah (1991)

Though I’ve always been a wanderer (I wandered away from my Dad when I was 3 years old and found by the fire department!), I haven’t always catalogued my journeys with written words. But I have however along the way, taken photos, lots of them. I recorded no distances, not even exact dates – just pictures. Most of these photos are boxed up in the garage. Handpicked specimens sit in photo albums that have long since sat on the highest, unreachable shelf in my office.

I decided look pull one of those books down recently and so much enjoyed reliving a few hikes, that I want to chronical them here and there with the words. The photos are old, faded and discolored a great deal – what a difference a few decades make. The memories fortunately are still clear (for now). Today’s historic hike goes back to the summer of 1991, most likely early summer. We usually travelled to Utah in the early summer. At times there was still snow on the ground. So, let’s go with June 1991. This was the Dixie National Forest, several hours from any major city, the closest being Cedar City, which isn’t really that large.

We had pitched a couple tents alongside a creek, as we always did, and made that our base camp while we ventured out in different directions during the day. On this day in June, my husband, his sister and her husband and I set out to climb to abandoned mines in the cliffs that we could see from camp. Being that we knew the area fairly well (my husband had been coming here since he was a child and myself for nearly a decade), we had long read up on the history of the place. This area had been mined in the late 1880s for antimony also known as stibnite. Occasionally, we came upon ruins and other artifacts like old wooden ladders or run down stone buildings,

The mines were on the other side of a wide fast flowing creek with delightfully ice cold water. Most likely we hopped boulders to make the crossing. We had to be careful to avoid the rampant stinging nettle that lined the banks. From the photos I see that I’m wearing long denim pants, which means the weather wasn’t too warm. It also means that I didn’t want to get stung by that stinging nettle – I had brushed into those invisible thorns before and knew it’s wrath. I also see from the photos that I was wearing a tank top and bathing suit beneath, which means I probably meant to take a dip in the stream later.

IMG_8444The hike was not very long. The photo shows that I carried only a butt-pack around my waist and it appears some kind of water thermos. My husband also has his camera strapped around his neck, which he wouldn’t have done on a long hike. My guess is two miles to the mines and two miles back.

After crossing the creek, we headed across rocky cactus terrain to the red rocks. From there we found a dirt trail along the cliff that I recall being quite sandy. I worried a bit climbing the slippery trails but looking back, the terrain was relatively tame and the trail was rather wide, just a tad steep. We climbed for a while until we arrived at a ledge that overlooked the canyon. Way down there, we could barely see our two tents tucked beneath the trees next to the creek. The trek was moderately difficult, never treacherous.


I recall few mines at the location. And as we sat there overlooking the canyon, we could spot other mines in the distance. We did not travel deep into any of them and I remember always leaving someone outside as a precaution if we ventured in a little – like that person on the outside could go get help if we got trapped. You know, they could  run down the rocks, get back to camp, hop in the truck and offroad about twenty minutes, then race down a country road for another ten to arrive at a country store where they could make a phone call. (Ya, I know, it seems a little unsafe in retrospect). But we made it fine, explored really just the surface of the dark tunnels and mostly enjoyed the fine views.

Friday, January 13, 2023

No Junk Miles

I’m on winter break from work and I have no wheels. The story behind my truck is a long one and it’s emotional for me. So, I’ll skip that part of the story. The worst part, in fact, the only bad part is that no truck means no mountains on winter break.

But I am bound and determined to roam. Who needs a stinkin’ car? I don’t. I can walk out my front door and a half mile later wade in the Pacific Ocean with San Juan Creek and the Saddleback Mountains in view. In fact, times like this forces me to change my routine, my wandering routine (oddly, I get into wandering routines).

Last Friday (1/6) before the onslaught of rain, this wanderess walked a block and hopped onto the county bus – Route 1, which takes the coast (Hwy 1) from San Clemente to Long Beach. I sat at the back of an empty bus and road it south to the county line, past the last stop (Cristianitos Rd) and exited at the first stop on the northbound route. That stop was Avenida Santa Margarita, which overlooks Camp Pendleton Marine base. The trip took about 35 minutes (plus the walk to the bus stop). From there, it was a quick trek through a fast food restaurant parking lot to Trestles Beach Trail.

View of Camp Pendleton from Trestles Beach Trail:IMG_0920IMG_0929IMG_0940 IMG_0943

Trestles Beach Trail is a quick dirt path that travels beneath Interstate 5, all eight or so lanes, north and southbound. Take the trail inland, it turns into Panhe Nature Trail which takes you right into San Mateo campgrounds of which I’ve visited once and really have no desire to return.

They’ve cleaned up the graffiti on the pillars that hold up Interstate 5 since I last visited. I was kind of looking forward to seeing the artwork. Some of it is interesting and rather polished. Regardless, graffiti  or not, it’s a lovely urban stroll. And everyone on the route is super excited to be there. Why? Because they’re going surfin’!!!

IMG_0950 IMG_0952IMG_0966

Train tracks run through all San Clemente Beaches. This may bother some. As for me, trains are nostalgic. I’ve grown fond of the train whistle that I hear from my house on foggy nights. So many times I’ve driven a cranky baby to the station so he could be soothed by the trains. Many mornings and sometimes nights I’ve sat in my truck waiting for the train to bring a son home from college. I kind of love trains.

So, back to Trestles Beach. To begin, what is a trestle? The short answer: a type of  bridge. And that’s just what you will see at this beach, only about 1.5 miles into the hike, a trestle bridge crossing San Mateo Creek.  


IMG_8404I meandered beneath the trestle bridge and spied on ducks floating along the creek. Eventually, I took up residence on the sand and remained there for some time. The weather was chilly, the skies sunny and blue. I spotted another wanderer just like myself on the sand up the ways. I noticed he too unpacked and sat there for a while. Looked like he ate a snack and then was off, kind of meandering without urgency with a pack on his back and hiking pole in hand.


My plan was to hike the sand, or tracks, whichever was available, to San Clemente Beach, then Calafia Beach, and from there catch the bus back home. But as with all hiking adventures, there are always some type of obstacles. On this day, the obstacles were Amtrak workers on the tracks, blocking through access.The tide unfortunately too high to pass along the sand, I slumped down onto a boulder defeated. I had to hike back the way I came, and if I was going to do that, I might as well just hop on the bus and go back home. That’s what I thought at the time anyway.

Fortunately, the hike back was long enough for me to change my mind.

One of the huts along Trestles Beach: IMG_1003IMG_1012

I made the mile trek along Avenida del Presidente, which runs parallel to Interstate Five, still a little annoyed that I could not do my originally planned hike along the sand. I peeked ahead of time using Google Maps, so I knew that I’d come to a pedestrian entrance into San Clemente State Beach campgrounds. And once I found a trail back down to the sand, my annoyance disappeared. (Trails do that!)

 Trail down to Calafia Beach:IMG_1034

I’m happy I didn’t just hike out of Trestles and go back home after being thwarted in my plans. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to explore these beautiful, kind of eerie land formations at San Clemente and Calafia beaches. What a spot! I absolutely treasure my time standing here doing nothing.  

Wasn’t the greatest of adventures (I didn’t have my truck afterall!). But I don’t regret it. Time well spent for sure.

A quote comes to mind right now from a wonderful Professor (Dr. St. Laurent @ CSUF). He once told his Humanities class (of which I sat so long ago): “Most people say, don’t just sit there, do something! I say, don’t just do something, sit there!” These words astonished me. I think about them often.

No time wandering ever seems wasted. There are no junk miles!

IMG_1042IMG_1064IMG_1069IMG_1070IMG_1081  IMG_1084IMG_1089From House of Trestles (near my bus stop for trip home):IMG_8410

7.25 miles approx. (Don’t know stats yet; haven’t downloaded watch)

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year! (Welcome La Nina!)

IMG_0873Happy New Year (& what a freakin’ year it’s been)! Time is an amazing thing – the years now just fly by. And so the passing of one year to the next doesn’t mean much to me. Every day is a start over day, not just the first of the year. So grateful that I know that!

One of my best Christmas gifts this year was a hike this past Wednesday (12/28), out to Black Star Canyon with my husband. We got in just after the rains and before another good storm. After picking up a couple sandwiches late morning, we packed them into one of my favorite spots.  After a good long rest in the “village”, we trekked through thick mud to explore Hidden Ranch while on our way to scout out another trail I’d heard about, a single track that leads up to The Divide, about a quarter mile past the KSOX Doppler Radar Tower (so I hear). Trail was located (for another day).

Gorgeous day out! On the way back, my husband picked up a rock that caught his eye. To my amazement, it was the same rock I had picked up a couple weeks back. I had to pull out a picture from my phone as proof – otherwise he would have never believed me. I took the finding as a good sign.

The sky was black when we finally made it out of the canyon, a full hour after sunset. No hauntings on this night, though if I had been without my spouse I would have been spooked for sure in a pitch-dark Black Star Canyon.

Looking forward to more cold winter, rainy weather here in California. La Nina is coming! Looking forward, I hope to explore new places in 2023. We’ll see. I’ll do what I can. I’ll be wandering one way or another for sure, I know that because that’s what I do!

IMG_0844IMG_0849Baker’s CrossIMG_0854Toyon BerriesIMG_0861Re-packing after lunch in the villageIMG_0886Creek crossing in Hidden Ranch areaIMG_0899Heading homeIMG_0889IMG_0905IMG_0911

12.1 miles, elevation gain about 3,800’