TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Friday, January 18, 2019

One More Mental Health Hike

I am back to work after a winter break. Work that is teaching. I teach computer applications at two schools (one community college and one k-12 adult ed), and HSE Prep/high school equivalency: math, reading/writing, social sciences, and science, (at another community college). There is much preparation time involved, so I am beat. I am beat because I also want to spend time with my family, keep the house clean, read, write, run or hike, and so on, and I haven’t yet figured out how to juggle it all with teaching (though I have a very big suspicion on what it is that I need to do).

So! Back to the reason for this blog (besides supplying a way to just ramble on about wandering trails), and that is, my last trail adventure. January 11, 2019, I took in one more mental health hike (my second of two). It was a change of plans, as always, that landed me in Laguna Wilderness that morning. The trails aren’t overwhelmingly beautiful to my tastes,  in that area anyway (sorry Laguna Beach Sad smile, I still love you though, very much! ). The trails here are mostly all completely exposed. There’s no shade, no place to recover from heat, and the creeks are almost always dry (but there is always the Pacific Ocean, which makes this a perfect place any time of the year!). Fortunately though, there is no need to escape from heat right now in Southern California. Our low temperatures during the day are in the fifties (Fahrenheit). If I drive 30, 40 minutes inland however, the temps can dip ten, twenty degrees.

Back to subject:Traverse Laguna Wilderness or Crystal Cove Parks during the wintertime!  There is no lovelier time in these parks (which run along the coasts of Laguna and Newport Beaches). In the wintertime, the weather is cool enough that you don’t need shade to recover. On Friday, I switched in and out of of my long sleeves, gloves and beanie, but I was mostly slightly chilled. Most of the hike, a gray sky hovered over a steel colored ocean. It felt somewhat eerie, especially when a ray of sun beamed down through a lapse in clouds causing a streak that reached to the horizon. There was a short time there that the clouds parted and blue skies appeared. And when that happened, I could see all the green more clearly, and it appeared as we were on the brink of spring!

This was my route (10.23 mi):

1,621' elevation gained










Friday, January 11, 2019

Mental Health Hike

I recently returned from a 15 day road trip. My husband and our three sons (ages 13, 16 and 19) drove our big old SUV over 4 states to Texas. I have barely been home a week (6 days to be exact) and I feel whacked. It was an emotional trip that wore me down on many levels. If I had been on the road much longer, I probably would have taken up smoking again (that means a lot more then I tell here!). Don’t get me wrong, there were lovely times, there was family, and a little bit of rejuvenation. But being on the road, well, that just made the downs and the transitions to the downs a whole lot harder. Now that I am home (no longer bundled up in wool coats, scarfs and hats!), a long hike is the only thing I can think of to help make the transition back into “normal” life. A long mental health hike.

Mental health hikes (or runs) work like this: The first half, maybe even three-quarters are difficult (there is usually much to confront). Amazingly though, you work through it, the crap, the bad feelings, the things that you can do absolutely nothing about. Then you just come to the inevitable, which is you just have no choice but to deal with life the best you can (best as in the least troubles, and with the most dignity), and you sure love it out here, moving along in nature, look at that Blue Heron, and oh there’s some deer . . . just relax. That’s what trails help me to do: RELAX.

The Big Loop, V. 1 @ Aliso/Woods Canyons: Aliso Cyn-Wood Cyn-Cholla-West Ridge-Top of the World-Meadows-Wood Cyn-Aliso Cyn, 11.59 miles, 1,539' elevation gain. January 9, 2019,

5 deer in Aliso Canyon:IMG_6185Wood Creek:IMG_6193West Ridge:IMG_6211Meadows Trail:IMG_6217

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Mental Health Hike

I recently returned from a 15 day road trip. My husband and our three sons (ages 13, 16 and 19) drove our big old SUV over 4 states to Texas. I have barely been home a week (6 days to be exact) and I feel whacked. It was an emotional trip that wore me down on many levels. If I had been on the road much longer, I probably would have taken up smoking again (that means a lot more then I tell here!). Don’t get me wrong, there were lovely times, there was family, and a little bit of rejuvenation. But being on the road, well, that just made the downs and the transitions to the downs a whole lot harder. Now that I am home (no longer bundled up in wool coats, scarfs and hats!), a long hike is the only thing I can think of to help make the transition back into “normal” life. A long mental health hike.

Mental health hikes (or runs) work like this: The first half, maybe even three-quarters are difficult (there is usually much to confront). Amazingly though, you work through it, the crap, the bad feelings, the things that you can do absolutely nothing about. Then you just come to the inevitable, which is you just have no choice but to deal with life the best you can (best as in the least troubles, and with the most dignity), and you sure love it out here, moving along in nature, look at that Blue Heron, and oh there’s some deer . . . just relax. That’s what trails help me to do: RELAX.

The Big Loop, V. 1 @ Aliso/Woods Canyons: Aliso Cyn-Wood Cyn-Cholla-West Ridge-Top of the World-Meadows-Wood Cyn-Aliso Cyn, 11.59 miles, 1,539' elevation gain. January 9, 2019,

5 deer in Aliso Canyon:IMG_6185Wood Creek:IMG_6193West Ridge:IMG_6211Meadows Trail:IMG_6217

IMG_6219

IMG_6220

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Mental Health Hike

I recently returned from a 15 day road trip. My husband and our three sons (ages 13, 16 and 19) drove our big old SUV over 4 states to Texas. I have barely been home a week (6 days to be exact) and I feel whacked. It was an emotional trip that wore me down on many levels. If I had been on the road much longer, I probably would have taken up smoking again (that means a lot more then I tell here!). Don’t get me wrong, there were lovely times, there was family, and a little bit of rejuvenation. But being on the road, well, that just made the downs and the transitions to the downs a whole lot harder. Now that I am home (no longer bundled up in wool coats, scarfs and hats!), a long hike is the only thing I can think of to help make the transition back into “normal” life. A long mental health hike.

Mental health hikes (or runs) work like this: The first half, maybe even three-quarters are difficult (there is usually much to confront). Amazingly though, you work through it, the crap, the bad feelings, the things that you can do absolutely nothing about. Then you just come to the inevitable, which is you just have no choice but to deal with life the best you can (best as in the least troubles, and with the most dignity), and you sure love it out here, moving along in nature, look at that Blue Heron, and oh there’s some deer . . . just relax. That’s what trails help me to do: RELAX.

The Big Loop, V. 1 @ Aliso/Woods Canyons: Aliso Cyn-Wood Cyn-Cholla-West Ridge-Top of the World-Meadows-Wood Cyn-Aliso Cyn, 11.59 miles, 1,539' elevation gain. January 9, 2019,

5 deer in Aliso Canyon:IMG_6185Wood Creek:IMG_6193West Ridge:IMG_6211Meadows Trail:IMG_6217

IMG_6219

IMG_6220

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Dinosaur Valley (Paluxy River)

I decided two Fridays ago (12/30) to take my chances and once again roam about Dinosaur Valley outside of Glen Rose, Texas. Last time I did that, 7 years ago, I got lost. Land of the Lost.
IMG_6002THIS TIME, I carefully mapped out a 5 to 6 mile loop, which entailed crossing the Paluxy River on the way out, and the way back. I only slightly considered how I might cross the river during my planning stage the night prior. Turned out, the river was quite full, and that crossing it even at the shallowest places would have meant getting wet at least knee deep (but probably more).

So, a river crossing was out of the question, especially since the rangers had closed all trails north of the Paluxy River. I wasn’t much in the mood for another ranger encounter. So much for my planned out route.

I took a trail adjacent to the river instead, and filmed my Friday Hike video. The temperature was in the low forties (Fahrenheit), and that was absolutely wonderful. I love the cold weather. But there were no dinosaur tracks to be found, as the river covered them all. Often I needed to hike up the river’s banks to find passage. Then when I could, I would hike back down to the cold waters. For the most part, I was alone, except for a lone fisherman here and there, or a camper up on the banks. Occasionally, I would come up on a group of people in the easy to reach look-out spots. This park is a tourist attraction that attracts people from around the world. I would visit again and again. Next time, I think I might rent one of the kayaks that I saw along the river's bank for $25 a day.

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Total miles: 4.38 miles, 509’ elevation gain


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Country Runs

I’m in the country this Christmas season . . . Texas country, where the roads are long and the skies are big. My boys are staying at my in-laws ranch, while my husband and I are in town at a hotel. Every morning, we drive out to the ranch (about a 20 minute drive), where we have been spending time with family. There’s lots of land to walk around and a couple of ponds to linger about. It really is beautiful country, with miles and miles of back country roads to venture out onto.

Christmas Eve, I set out for a short run with my oldest son in the afternoon. The temperatures were in the forties (Fahrenheit), but that wasn’t cold enough to keep on the long sleeves. By the time we reached the small cemetery (Bowman Ridge Cemetery about 2 miles in), I was ready to take off the long sleeves and run in a tank top. It felt really good to get out and run the straightaway dirt roads. Really good. This run measured a little over 4.5 miles (with close to zero elevation gain). I know this for sure because I’m wearing my new sports watch – Amazfit Pace. Yes, I have officially left Garmin behind, and so for, I am pleased.

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Run 2, which was today, December 27, I took my middle son along. It was dang cold out, but he didn’t even bring a jacket. I told him that he’d need one, but he did not believe. He mainly walked, but every so often would run to catch up with me. I think the running helped to warm him up. His face was red with cold. At about a half mile a jack rabbit stood up and ran across the field. He had to be three feet tall! I wish I was quick enough snap a picture. But by the time I had my camera out, he was long gone. Then about one mile in, two dogs ran from a farmhouse out onto the road, and accompanied us for most of the run. It wasn’t until about a half mile from “home” that the owners of the dogs showed up in a car and called the dogs in. The dogs were beautiful.

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IMG_5914I kept my long sleeves on the entire run. I believe that it was thirty-something. Like I’ve already said, dang cold! The dogs didn’t mind, and my son without a jacket didn’t seem to mind much either. (Crazy kids!) We went back out to the cemetery, which is so interesting. It is a very old cemetery, with grave markers dating back to the early 1800s. It’s also a historical landmark being that it is a Confederate veteran cemetery. I know that it is popular to hate all Confederate history, but I love history, so I’m delighted to come across an artifact like this, which by the way, is practically in the middle of nowhere – it’s surround by country roads and farms – that’s it.

This run measured just a little over 4 miles, with again, practically zero elevation gain.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Arroyo Trabuco My Good Friend

Arroyo Trabuco 14 mi. / Friday 12/14

I downloaded the Mapmyrun on my phone and took to Arroyo Trabuco Trail Friday, December 14 (yes, I am 10 days late -- so I will make this quick). Not really mourning my Garmin anymore (it really was a pain in the ass). I recall it was a dark day, both physically and mentally. The skies were gray, and I was feeling down for reasons I’ll leave out. Best thing ever to do when down, hit the trails, especially after recent rains.The creek was full, so much so, that I found it difficult to cross without at least dipping my foot in the water. There were several creek crossings. There were also lots of people, and they all made some kind of contact -- a nod, eye contact, even short talks (big contrast to my local trails). I met one man (Ahmad) who told me about the video clips he saw of mountain lions on this trail. We had a good ten minuteIMG_5709 discussion as he showed me one of the cameras on the trail that I had never even noticed. In the end, I was growing somewhat fatigued, and even had to run some to keep to my time schedule. I believe that I probably ran about 6 of the 14+ miles. At the last creek crossing, I didn’t have energy or focus to cross it without getting my feet wet. So, mid-way, I simply stepped down into the middle of the creek and walked across it, drenching my shoes completely.

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