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Sunday, August 2, 2009

In Over My Head

I worried Friday night that I was going to be in way over my head on Saturday’s run. Then I laughed to myself, because that’s most of the time the case on these trail runs. But I really had no idea – no idea of the utter difficulty of “running” up Trabuco Trail and no idea of the sheer beauty of the Santa Ana Mountains (and in the middle of summer to boot!)

We met at 6:00 AM with five runners: Tom, Larry, Luis, Daniel and the only female in the group, myself. We started running up the canyon, past sporadic cabins, and a bullet ridden car through the cool shade. At the West Horse Thief / Trabuco Trail fork, we headed up Trabuco in and out of the shade, on a slow steady climb. But then that climb took off into the sky. There were wide rocky, desert-like roads, single tracks alongside tremendously steep slopes, and shady enchanted portions beneath forest trees.

Bullet-Ridden, Rusted Out Car

Making Our Way to Horse Thief / Trabuco Fork

Ferns in the Shade

I wonder What Lives in that Cave?

Which Way Should We Go???

Thankful for a cool breeze, I really couldn’t wait until we made the Main Divide. First timer on this run, I really had no idea when that might be, which makes a run mentally difficult. But when I saw some metal posts in the distance, I wanted to sing a joyful song. Nah, I don’t think I had that much energy. I was sure smiling though. We could actually view the other side of the Santa Ana Mountains, Lake Elsinore down below.

Going Up . . .

Still Going Up -- Looking Back (Towards The O.C.)

At The Main Divide

Lake Elsinore In the Distance (Look Very Closely)

We ran some rolling hills for a bit, one of them too long and steep to be called “rolling.” And up on that climb, I spotted a cluster of huge pinecones littering the trail. They were quite prickly and sticky with sap. I picked one up anyway up for my youngest son (he loves pinecones and I knew this one would amaze him). When I turned the corner to meet the guys, they all kind of chuckled at my notion of carrying that thing down Horse Thief. I was thinking heck, it’s all down hill from here – I can do it. Sometimes, my judgment is skewed.

Thankfully, Tom tied it up onto the back of his camelback, and we all made our way down that rocky, switch-back named West Horse Thief. I concentrated hard, with the rocks literally rolling beneath my feet, the terrain steep. There was no time for photo ops down this trail; it was that difficult for me to run.

Running out of the canyon, hikers here and there made their way in with walking sticks. I was tired, but knowing that the end was near, I was able to keep on running back into the parking lot, flabbergasted by the trails I had just run.

Now that was great training for the 25K Bulldog at the end of the month.

Front Row: Daniel, Tom
Back Row: Me, Luis, Larry

11.8 miles logged on Saturday Morning with 3,300 feet of climbing.

ps. My four year old loved the pinecone.

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