click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Friday, July 20, 2018

Climbing In

Normally when I hit the trails in Laguna Wilderness/Crystal Cove I spend about $15 in tolls for a speedy route and easy access parking near one of the trailheads. But then, when it’s all said and done, I have to climb out. Grrrrrr. This past Tuesday (7/17) I decided to spend my $15 on the California State Parks parking fee instead and start down at the coast. This of course means, the climb was on the way in, not the way out. And oh my, this is so the way to go during the summertime. No doubt about it.

I highly suggest doing the climb when you’re not fatigued and you will surely stay a lot cooler on the California coast during the summer. To begin, we were socked in on Tuesday afternoon. That means the sun didn’t really get through the marine layer, and with the ocean breeze, the weather was quite comfortable. About half way through the climb (about mile 3 or more) I left the marine layer behind for sunny blue skies. And the heat began to show its face. But with just about 1 mile remaining of the climb, it really didn’t bother me. Besides that, I only had 3 miles on my legs, and with only 3 miles on my legs, I can probably do just about anything (maybe).

This was my route:

Beginning at the ranger station down in Crystal Cove Park (in Newport Beach, or is it Corona Del Mar, or even possibly Laguna Beach? – Doh! I have lived out here since 1988, and I don’t know), I took “No Dogs” trail to “No-Name Ridge.” And then I took a delightful little single track called “Ticketron.” Ticketron continued up to a secluded campground (with approximately 4 campsites). From there I took “Red Tail Ridge” to “Fence Line” (which was not a marked and legal trail when I first took it many years back). From “Fence Line” I began heading down that wonderfully steep trail called “Elevator”. This trail dumped into El Moro Canyon which I took back to the coast and to my truck.

In all I travelled 8.24 miles (running about half of it, hiking the other) with 1,256’ of elevation gain. Nothing eventful happened, which is what I think I prefer in the middle of summertime on the California coast. No exhaustion, no heat stroke. All was good. And the best thing was: I did not have to climb out!

View from “No Dogs” trail (climbing in):IMG_3399On “No-Name Ridge” (still climbing in):IMG_3403Ticketron:IMG_3425Campground off Ticketron:IMG_3433Moro Canyon:IMG_3444My New Kitten, Simba:IMG_3454

Friday, July 13, 2018

Arroyo Trabuco -- The Great Suburban Trail

Oh my gosh, super behind in blogging my trails. Time to catch up because I finally have a little time off in the summer (only teaching evenings now, starting today!). This means that I have more time to hit the trails. But alas, it has been so hot . . .

My last trail (hike-run) was Arroyo Trabuco, right as our temperatures began rising. Of course, I left my house in the afternoon. And I parked further out this time too (near The Water District). This way, I got to skip Tijeras Creek Trail, which gets a bit too sandy, and has that incline at the end -- and I don’t like inclines at the end. However, with this choice, I was going to add two miles to my regular out-and-back.

IMG_3069The date was June 30. The day was a Saturday, and it was frickin’ hot. And so, I decided to hike (to save myself, else I die because as you may recall, I do not do good in heat anymore). I hiked practically all of the “out” of this out-and-back, which ended with 7 plus miles at O’Neill Regional Park. Hiking certainly took a lot of the stress out of the heat. My travels were comfortable and  pleasurable. And even better, the trails were basically empty.


At my turnaround, it was late afternoon, or rather, early evening. A soft coolish breeze began to blow soon after. With the new temperature, I kicked out the back and put in some running (or jogging rather -- hehe).

Well, gosh, I have been on this trail so many times -- countless times. So, this time, at about 2 or 3 miles in on the “back” portion of this out-and-back, I decided to take “Loop Trail” with the assumption that it was the same trail that met up with “Loop Trail” just next to the creek, a few miles up Arroyo Trabuco. Basically, I always stay only on Arroyo Trabuco when I take this gigantic trail (which I can catch locally in San Juan Capistrano). I’ve been on the offshoots, but always with someone else (mainly Tom, and several years ago).

So, down a pretty steep incline I traversed onto “Loop Trail.” At the bottom I crossed the creek. Quickly afterward, I found myself climbing up a pretty decent incline toward the neighborhoods on the canyon cliffs to the right. But I needed to go to the left. I thought this trail probably did turn to the left eventually. When I studied my surroundings, I could find no evidence of this however. And then a young lad came by on a dirt bike (which are not actually allowed on these trails). Out of politeness, it seemed, he stopped when he approached so as not to kick up dirt or make too much noise. And I asked him where this trail I was standing on lead. He said that it lead up to the right, to a park on the cliff. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Doesn’t it at some point turn off to the left?” The kid assured me that he had just come from the park, and that the trail only went to that location.

(There really is no better word than “lovely” to describe the scenery):


Back to the young man on the dirt bike. I should not have believed him. Not that he was lying. He probably just didn’t know. The thing was, I really, really didn’t want to backtrack and hike up that hill back to Arroyo Trabuco. Yet, I turned back anyway with hopes of finding some single track I didn’t notice after the creek, that I could eventually take back to the Loop/Arroyo Trabuco junction.

Well, there was no single-track. But just before the creek, I noticed a clearing in the thick brush. If I ducked my head, I could make it through to what seemed like a slight trail running alongside the creek. So, do you think that I did that?

Of course I did.

By this time, the weather had cooled a great deal. It was lovely. And it was quiet and lush after making my way through the cave-like brush. And yes, I did catch a small trail alongside the creek. In my estimation, it would only be couple of miles, at most, until I made it to my junction. If the trail was like it was currently, the trip would be a breeze.

But the the path got thinner. And the path got wetter. It lessoned to a point that I wasn’t really sure if I was on a trail anymore. I noticed a few offshoots, which I explored. But they didn’t look promising and I always turned back to the creek. I didn’t want to go back though, dang it! There was too much backtracking to be had and the evening was wearing on. It was about 6:30 pm (and don’t mountain lions search for prey in the evening hours?)


Eventually, I found myself traipsing down the middle of the creek with no promising offshoots whatsoever. My path had disappeared. All along, my luck had held out. I still had a decent amount of energy. I had avoided the poison oak (which doesn’t bother me -- I am immune) and the stinging nettle (which does bother me -- I am not immune). And best of all, I hadn’t been eaten by a mountain lion. Open-mouthed smile

So, it was time to make sure that my luck continued to hold out (because I was now pretty much boxed in, breaking through brush to move forward in the stream). I turned back. There was sort of a defeat in that. But there was also relief, because I knew the way back, and exactly how it would look. I’m not quite sure if it was just before or after I turned back that I brushed into the stinging nettle. I got it in the left shin and on the tip of my right index finger.  It wasn’t a terrible sting. But it was a pretty good sting that lasted both on my leg and my finger at the same intensity for the entire night. (It was only when I woke the next morning that I noticed that the sting had been tamed by about half).

The backtracking added some mileage to my trip. So, I decided to take a short cut up to Oso Parkway, where I made my way along that busy road back to the parking lot near The Water District. I probably cut off two miles with the short cut. But the climb was steeper, but not at all terrible.

On Oso Parkway, overlooking Arroyo Trabuco Trail, with Santiago and Modjeska Peaks in the background:


Oh the fun times!  I am fortunate (I don’t realize that enough).

14.22 miles / 958’ elevation gain

Saturday, June 30, 2018

My Friday Day Off

I have Fridays off from work for the summer session. But this Friday I had an 8:00 am meeting (which lasted two and a half hours). Then I needed to stay a little longer so that I could photocopy lessons for next week. I wasn’t off campus until about 10:45 am. Normally, I would have thought that it was a little late for a summer trail. But I took my chances because dang it, this was a day off. If it got too hot after all, I could just hike.

Go figure that I chose a trail that is almost entirely exposed. I guess that whole hike when I need to really solves any issues I have with heat. Besides that, I just won’t put up with it anymore. No more heat sick for me. I can tell if it is going to end up that way, and if I even have a inkling of ending up heat sick, I’ll call it. Ends up, the weather was just as lovely as it has been for weeks. Sure, it was warm, maybe even a little hot, but the skies were blue and there blew a cool breeze. So comfortable it was, I ran much of the distance out to the flags. The hills, of course, that’s another story. I enjoyed a relaxing hike on all of the steep hills.

7.23 mi, 1,325' elevation gain


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Trails in June

The weather is still perfect along the California Riveria and we have only a few days left in June. The skies have been blue (but sometimes gray) with a constant soft cool breeze. Yet, here I am sitting on my living room couch which is somewhat of a bummer to me. I’m constantly torn between heading outdoors and staying behind to catch up on chores and work related things. It’s this (the chores and stuff) and the fact that I just don’t have the ambition to do what it takes to actually get myself to some trails. Ugh. Go figure that I don’t have the ambition because when I finally get out there, it really helps me in so many ways. Trails lift my spirits and strengthen both my body and my spirit. Out on the trails, I stay in the present, the Now -- which is really the best place to be. Ask the devil in The Screwtape Letters who wrote his nephew the same – keep your victim out of the Present – because the Present is closest to God (or something like that – it’s been years since I’ve read the book).

Occasionally, when it’s been a while since I hit the trails, I hit the gym (1 to 2 times a week nowadays). But that really is just to keep minimally in shape. The gym doesn’t offer that mental almost euphoric presence that trails give me. This is because I don’t much stay in the present during gym workouts. I’m more of a thinker at the gym.

Ten days ago (June 16), I amazed myself (truly!) and got out on the trails on a late Sunday afternoon. I allowed myself this because of the progress I had made elsewhere on my “To Do” list. I amazed myself also by the fact that I ran the vast majority of the 12 miles along Tijeras Creek and Arroyo Trabuco Trails. Early on, I saw a deer on the trail. She hopped away then later pounced back onto the trail to cross right in front of me and race off into the hills. The weather was as usual perfect -- blue skies with white puffy clouds and of course that cool breeze. At the end I felt exhilarated, victorious. I had conquered myself by finally getting outdoors for a good long while.

Four days ago (June 22), but it seems much longer, I hit the trails again. And again, in the afternoon! Thankful for the weather that allows me to do such a thing, I got in nearly 11 miles. But the terrain was not so kind in Laguna Wilderness/Crystal Cove. It was not so kind because I had to climb out. I despise climbing out. I would much rather climb in (that is, do the heavy elevation gain at the beginning of the route). The climb out for my loop four days ago started at the surf and went for over four miles. Four. Slow. Miles. I know I just mentioned that I hate the climb out, but that hate goes hand-in-hand with loving it. And I loved it. I loved the struggle.

Who knows when I will get out again. Today would have been ideal -- perfect weather, and only one class to teach this evening at 6pm. But I had laundry to do and lesson plans to create (not to mention emails and a phone call to make).

Stats for June 16: 12.06 miles, 705’ elevation gain

Stats for June 22: 10.64 miles, 1,512’ elevation gain

Arroyo Trabuco Trail (lovely shade!):IMG_2814

Prickly Pear on Arroyo Trabuco:IMG_2827

The Pacific Ocean:IMG_2911

About a mile into the climb out:IMG_2936

Sunday, June 17, 2018

After the Fire

June 2nd, Wood Canyon was accidentally sent ablaze (by a teenage boy, I believe, who later confessed). A sense of sadness came over me when I heard the news. Fire. It’s such a bizarre thing. It can save you and it can kill you. And the whole fire versus wilderness thing, well, that’s all part of nature. The cycle of nature burning and then re-growing is also a part of the natural cycle. So, I think the sadness was mostly due to the fact that a big change was coming for a place that I know intimately. I bet that I could travel all of Wood Canyon blind folded. So, my sadness was over saying good-bye to the way it was, which I loved, really loved. I’ve seen fires come through before, in several different areas. It all comes back – it just comes back differently.

Eight days later, on June 10, I took a hike during the early evening into Wood Canyon. And yes, it had changed. Entering from the Canyon View Park location, I didn’t see any indication of the fire for about the first mile and a half. I did see other signs however. Signs like big heavy machinery tire-tracks left on the trail and in the creek crossings. Signs like branches and brush strewn about on the trail, and trail signs smashed in the dirt.

I could finally see the first parts of the burned portion in Wood Canyon about a quarter mile out from it. The charred area begins near The Old Corral right beneath Soka University. I immediately noticed tiny bits of ash blowing about in the breezy evening air. It smelled of burnt wood everywhere. And the whole canyon seemed to open up and widen with the trees and brush no longer there.


From Soka University the burnt area continues down Wood Canyon until just before Cave Rock (which I visited to break away from the viewing). Dripping Cave is completely closed to the public due to the fire. The burnt area also continues into Mathis Canyon – just past Nature Loop trail.  The Nature Loop Trail is closed, and all of Coyote Run (south of RockIt).

IMG_2686IMG_2689IMG_2691Some Cave Rock Trail (which completely escaped the fire):IMG_2696IMG_2714IMG_2715IMG_2718IMG_2723

Total Miles: 7.93 / Elevation Gain: 665’


Friday, June 8, 2018

My Reasons for Nanny Goat 2018

Nanny Goat 12/24 hr has long come and gone. My strength developed into weakness rather quickly, but I still had myself a good time. Fortunately (for me, because I just can't do a write-up at the moment), I did put together a pretty dang long video that explains it all -- my reasons, my goals, etc. It took me a couple of days to recover from the event, and since then, I've been back to doing short runs at the harbor and around town, plus gym work-outs a couple of times a week. One thing for sure that Nanny Goat taught me (which it always teaches me) is that I can go much farther than my physical fitness abilities. I also learned that I cannot make a video of a running event without a shaky camera. Sorry!