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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kitty on the Trail

The first thing this morning I checked Aliso/Wood Canyons website. CLOSED. I held out hope though, because the note was dated yesterday. 7 AM the park usually opens, I called to receive the message that it was closed due to muddy conditions. I still held out hope. After dropping my two oldest boys off at school, I phoned the park on my way back to the car. Same recording: CLOSED. Back at home, I checked the website and phoned again. Same answer: CLOSED.

Heck. I figured I better just get my youngest ready for school and prepared for a road run. Minutes before walking out the door with my antsy five-year-old, I refreshed the internet page one last time. It was about 8:45 (An hour and 45 minutes after Aliso Wood Cyns opens) and wouldn't you know it! The announcement read that the park was OPEN.

Well, somewhat ticked -- no a bit more than that, I rushed about my bedroom. I was prepared for a road run. I couldn't wear pants on the trail, I had to change my shoes, and my socks, not to mention find a handheld and fill it with water! Besides all that, it was way too late to go for a trail run. I worked this afternoon/evening -- I had way too much to do.

But I wanna run on dirt : (

After dropping my boy off at preschool, I drove on over to Aliso, still ticked and hit the trail wearing gloves and long sleeves -- but shorts mind you, my ipod, water, trail shoes and socks. (What's the difference between the socks I wear on the road and the ones I wear on the trail? Well, I wear any ole' socks for the road, but for the trail, I wear socks that sweat well, and socks that are firm around the ankle so that less debris can get in . . . just in case you were wondering).

Have I mentioned that I was angry? People who know me well, know that I am a planner -- I know well in advance when I am going to run, when I'm going to swim, when I'm going to get gasoline. Seldom do I do anything spontaneous. Needless to say, this morning -- not knowing, then deciding on the road, then changing last minute to a trail, well that threw me off. And so . . . I decided to RUN UP MEADOWS TRAIL. Tell me why Angry = Running up Meadows Trail? I'm not sure myself. I've only ever run it once with fellow runner Tom. And had he not convinced me, I probably wouldn't have run up Meadows yet.

I ran Aliso Creek Trail, which wasn't too muddy (and saw my Blue Heron friend), then turned off onto Wood Canyon for a quick left onto Meadows. Fast to get into my groove, I was not at all stressing over facing the climb. I was just running, listening to my music, thinking about nothing, but noticing bobcat and coyote tracks in the mud. Then up ahead, I saw a bobcat. He simply sat there on the paved trail that runs adjacement to Meadows Trail for a bit (Aliso Creek Trail). He was light, a grayish-brown with dark spots. He sat up straight, his ears pointed, looking right at me.

Can you believe that I didn't bring a camera? Alas, I did have my phone! I snapped a shot, then wondered what to do. I didn't want to cross his path running, figuring that might trigger the cat to chase me. I'm sure that I could fight off a bobcat, but he could probably do some good damage, leave some deep scratches. I took a step forward, slowly, and then another, and another. He just sat there, staring me down. I looked directly at the beauty, not wanting to show hesitation or fear, and I was sure as heck not gonna turn my back on the creature. Honestly, I wasn't too worried; I was more curious, wondering how it was gonna end.

Looks like an itty-bitty kitty in the picture my phone captured

Heck! I had the phone in my hand anyway, so I decided to phone my husband. I told him how I didn't want to run past the bobcat, and with each step the cat wasn't budging. He suggested throwing a stick or a rock in his direction. Not liking that idea, I took hubby's second advice. Just keep on slowly walking on the trail. I did that and the cat eventually, so, so, slowly backed up, And then he finally turned around, but kept his head turned back, looking at me the entire time he crept back into the brush. When I was certain that he was off and on his way, I picked up my run, crossed the bridge and headed up Meadows Trail.

Meadows was muddy and difficult to run. But not as difficult as the first time I ran it. A bunny thrashed through the brush so loudly that I literally jumped back when he darted across my path. At one point RUNNING UP MEADOWS, I had to grab onto branches to keep from slipping in the mud. It was great fun, salty, sweaty, how am I doing this fun!

Great relief to reach the top. Then when this lady (me), who had no time at all for a trail run, made the BIG loop. That is across the neighborhoods, along Westridge to a final descent down Cholla. There was plenty of erosion from the rain, mostly on Westridge, which had crevices so wide, it reminded me of an earthquake fracture. Cholla took all that rain pretty well. Wood Canyon was in good shape, with sandbags placed here and there to divert the runoff. I passed the other Blue Heron, and also a woman sitting high up in a sycamore tree. Her legs were swinging back and forth, her husband (I think) at the base looking up while he rocked a baby in a stroller. (Did this really happen?)

No, it wasn't a dream. When I finally reached the ranger station, one of the rangers said to me, "You've been all over!" And then he offered me some ice cold water from their supply inside. What a treat!

11.64 miles today

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