TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Catch Up

Time to catch up on things so that I can started on my venture of getting back into shape.

First off, another successful Chimera has come and gone (Nov. 12 & 13). And though I re-injured my foot in the mountains and severely limped about all weekend, I was motivated to get back out there on the trails. I was motivated by the runners, and by the volunteers. The weekend was not seamless (as usual), and some volunteers gave way more than their fair share. And afterwards, even though I grinded my teeth over all the little mishaps and things that I could have done better, I had a hopeful sense about me. I felt hopeful, because I knew, regardless of my foot at the time, I was going to do this – (not run Chimera, but run trails again!). For some time, many months perhaps, that fact has been in doubt in my mind.

It took me a while, one full week to actually hit some trails. My husband pleaded with me to take it slow (which I always do anyway), but he meant distance-wise. And he urged me to not take on any terrible elevation. I took that advice Saturday, Nov. 19, and went out to Arroyo Trabuco, near Tierjas Creek Golf course for an out-and-back to O’Neill Park. Total miles 5.64:

11 19 16 a11 19 16

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy foot really ached when I set out hiking, and I thought, boy, this is going to be a long trip. No worry, because I was out in nature. The skies were gray, and the weather was cool. And the trails were practically empty. Eventually, I decided what the heck, and set out running (or rather trotting), and to my utter surprise, found no ache when I ran. And I ran most of that trail, except when it got super rocky (can’t afford a fall so soon).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWith a few trips to the gym here and there after my Arroyo Trabuco run, it took me until the day after Thanksgiving (11/25) to hit the trails again. With rain over the past few days, I was pretty sure my regular trains were going to be closed. And such that time time was fleeting, I aimed for the closest trails: Las Ramblas to the flag that overlooks the beach cities. The run totaled 4.14 miles. I took a phone call from my sister at the half way point and sat down for a good twenty minutes chatting before that magnificent view.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Well, I managed to get in a couple more trips to the gym after that, but it took me a good long while to hit the trails again – my truck in the shop (I was hit by a student in the parking lot a few weeks back), and lots of classes to teach, and my boys’ concerts to attend, I had little time. But I still desired the trails – it wasn’t like before, during these past months where I felt they were my adversary. Finally, today, (12/3), I got out to my old stomping grounds, and did an out-and-back along West Ridge to Top of the World. I felt absolutely fine with the foot, and I was so ever delighted with the cool temperatures. (5.15 miles)

12 3 16 a12 3 16

I let the sun go down before finishing up. My last quarter or so mile was under a deep dark blue sky, and it was beautiful, peaceful and beautiful. I am feeling optimistic.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Friday, October 28, 2016

Always An Adventure

Last Saturday was the Twin Peaks Ultra (actually two Saturdays ago now Sad smile ), and though I didn’t run it, I was there (in more than just spirit). Right from the start, before I even arrived, I was on an adventure. I was so close to destination, but found myself diverted onto the 15 Northbound, when I unexpectedly came upon a closed onramp to the 15 Southbound. Finally, I was able to exit the freeway and turn around, entering the 15 Northbound, only to find myself diverted back onto the 91 Westbound, back toward home! Humph! I was about ten miles from the Start Line, my ride up the mountain was probably waiting to take off up Indian Truck Trail, and I couldn’t get there!  Frustrating. But in my old age, I am able to handle these type of things now without screaming out profanities.

6:20 AM I finally arrived at Indian Truck Trail after following the blue dot on my iPhone GPS (fighting against every urge not to drive in the opposite direction, as somehow I got turned around in my mind and being dark out still, couldn’t quite tell where I was). It was probably 7:30 by the time we were all set up at the top of W. Horsethief, where we’d meet the runners at about mile ten and thirty-four. (We includes: Chase who worked the aid station with me, and HAM operators Mark and Adam).

The next adventure was the bee situation, with hundreds (hell, perhaps thousands)  swarming around us and the goodies laid out on the table for runners. At the suggestion of a lady runner from Virginia, we set up several traps around camp to catch the bees. Turns out, bees will fly into a large bottle with a tiny bit of Coca Cola at the bottom, but they can’t figure out how to fly back out. I don’t want to post of a picture of the trap, lest I anger bee lovers. But we did release the survivors after the race.

Other adventures included runners sobbing, vomiting, and several not making the cut-off. We searched out the runner we had reports of laying on the ground somewhere on the switchbacks up to mile 34 (we found him).  And we fought off more bees. There were a couple of missing runners, dropped runners who needed rides back, and logistics problems (which is always the case in ultras) getting everyone back where they needed to be.

And then, I fucked up my foot. In all my dilly-dallying along the trail (because I just could not resist the beauty of W. Horsethief), I fell when the dry sand slipped beneath my feet. My body twisted, and only the bottom half of my foot followed when I hit. It hurt so badly, I thought for sure I had broken my foot. But I kept my shoe on, and continued on the day, even running some to locate a runner.

When I finally arrived back at home, about 9PM, I took off my shoe, and my foot looked God-Awful. It was puffy, and purple, and mis-figured some. I didn’t get to the doctor until Monday (because I refuse to pay the out-of-pocket costs of emergency care for my $900 a month health insurance plan). Turns out, all is good, just sprained ligaments. It looked so bad, my doctor said, because I stayed on my feet for so long after the injury.

So, there! Always an adventure. But sadly, now, there’s no adventure, because I’m still limping two weeks later. Damn it! (And this is the reason you have not seen any blogposts in a while, and why I have not enjoyed the peace of nature in a while, and why I have worn tennis shoes to work every day).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Feels Like Fall (Sorta)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTrying 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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES10 2 16

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Working Saddleback Mountain Goat Marathon

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:

IMG_0012IMG_0017IMG_0013IMG_0021IMG_0023IMG_0045IMG_0052IMG_0054IMG_0060IMG_0063IMG_0056

Friday, September 23, 2016

Never, Ever

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. Winking smile

So happy to finally close the door on summer (though not necessarily the heat, but that is soon to come)!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Maple Springs!

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!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd 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.”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe 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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

9.21 miles (14.8 km), 1,666’ (508 m) elevation gained9 11 16

9 11 16 a