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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Station-2-Station / Take Two

I didn’t have any takers to run the mountains this morning.  Oh how I love those mountain runs; they are oh so tough.  But I’m just too chicken to run them alone.  Actually, I think it’s relatively safe to run them alone.  It’s just that I have 3 youngish children, and I wouldn’t want a stupid mistake (& I make them Plenty, see “Rat Story,”) or something beyond my control to take me out of my most important job:  Mom.

So, I decided last night to allow (as if), my family to use our one and only car for church (oldest son is the acolyte this month – that is he lights the altar candles, puts them out, etc.), and I would take the bus to my run.

When my phone alarm rang out at 5:00 AM, I experienced a little panic – am I racing this morning, am I running with someone?  No.  I’m catching a 5:58 bus for my Station-to-Station run (Crystal Cove Ranger Station to Aliso Wood Ranger Station).  Oh! That’s why the alarm was ringing!!!

I SO didn’t want to go.  I wanted to sleep.  This was this first time, it seems in a long time, that I had to force myself out the door.  Odd, because, I bedded early, with a healthy diet this past week, including no sugar and no wine.  I opted to skip the coffee this morning, but did have a protein drink.  (By the way, I hear that protein before a run is NOT good – is that true?).  Then after checking on all the boys, including hubby, I snuck out the front door and walked down to the bus stop. 

Dreary-eyed waiting for the bus (yes, I do believe that I am crazy, just a bit)CIMG9630

Usually, I love riding the bus.  But this morning’s bus driver was boring (A bus driver once spoiled me with such great entertainment, that no one compares!).  In addition, I felt uncomfortable in my seat (that is my chair).  I wanted to sleep, oh HOW I WANTED TO SLEEP.  Several others rode the bus (ten plus) and three of us exited at the same stop.  I walked up to the Crystal Cove ranger station with a young, (so young!) man with interesting conversation.   I wish I would have snapped a picture of him.  He didn’t seem so thrilled about being awake at this early hour.  But I was an open ear and had plenty to say, so hopefully that woke him a bit.  He also seemed apologetic about his new job, “only cleaning” the campsites, he said, to which I replied, “Hey, it’s a job!”  Jobs are scarce in The O.C., both for the experienced and inexperienced.  

When I told this boy (“boy” not used in disrespect) my plans to run up the canyon through Crystal Cove Park, then Laguna Wilderness, across Laguna Canyon and into Aliso Wood Cyns he was visibly shocked that these three parks connected.  (Well, they sorta connect). 

Crossing Bridge into El Moro CanyonCIMG9643

A lonely, yet beautiful El Moro Canyon TrailCIMG9651

I ran El Moro Canyon in solitude, except for a few mountain bikers riding down.  One looked at me and said, “Boy, that looks like fun.”  Though it was difficult, it was FUN.  The best part was that as bikers rode down and saw me, they yelled out behind their shoulders, “runner!”  That meant it looked like I was running up the canyon!"

From El Moro Canyon, I took the longer route up “Nice and Easy,” (a steep “fire road”), where I came across two other runners coming down.  At the top of “Nice and Easy,” still beneath cloudy skies, I took a right and hoped onto a lovely single track named “Missing Link.”  Several mountain bikers road down this trail as I ran up it.  My clothing was already drench by this point.  Then at a circular, kind of meeting point, I met several mountain bikers, and I was a bit unsure where to go.  I asked them if I was still on “Missing Link.”  One of the guys responded, “Yes, just take this up a ways and you’ll hit the MAIN ROAD.”  Relieved, I ran on to “the main road.”

This is when I learned that my MAIN ROAD is not the same as another’s “main road.”  To me, the main road on these trails is Bommer Road. I should have asked!  Instead, I hit that “main road,” and ran it.  And I ran it.  Something seemed odd.  With extremely overcast skies, it still seemed like I was probably running in the wrong direction.  I was just hoping that I’d end up where I wanted, EVENTUALLY.  And then I passed an outhouse.  I’ve never seen an outhouse on Bommer road.  But I have seen one on Moro Ridge.  After using that outhouse, I took a good look around and it seemed that the ocean was in front of me (though I couldn’t see it) and I needed the ocean BEHIND me. 


I met another runner as I ran back UP, UP, UP Moro ridge, and she confirmed that I was not on Bommer.  Then I met yet another runner who was lost and we spotted yet another runner up ahead.  We stopped her short of her solo run and she set us straight on which direction to take.  We all three ran off in different directions.  That truly is one of the lovely aspects of trail running. 

Finally reaching Bommer RoadCIMG9660

I used the aid of lots of hikers on my way off of Bommer.  One small family was particularly helpful in finding Laurel Canyon.  Glenn had once commented on this blog how Laurel Canyon was a beaut.  And I have to agree with him.  What came as a surprise was that Laurel Canyon emptied out right at the ranger station – a  delightful surprise, since I was in newish territory!  When I saw the rangers, I hollered out “Rangers!”  and I used their expertise to guide me to Stair Steps Trail across the canyon up into Aliso Wood Canyons Park.  The ranger told me he’d wave as I was “running” up, (maybe it’s just me, probably is, but I got the feeling that he didn’t believe that I’d be running up).

Laurel Canyon TrailCIMG9665



I crossed the crowded Laguna Canyon Road safely (Hwy 133) and ran in the brush to keep as far away from the speeding cars for about a 1/2 mile.  Then when I came upon the land markers that the ranger had told me about, I headed up the slope.  And what a slope it was!  Stair steps doesn’t begin for a while.  At first it’s a STRAIGHT UP paved road (very tough, that I hiked).  Believe me, I was quite relieved when I finally hit Stair Steps Trail.  It was a long (only .7 mile) steep, technical trail, but it was runnable in most places.  Not only that, I knew exactly where I would come out – on West Ridge, MY TRAIL.   Be sure that I made big waves when I could see the ranger station below.  I couldn’t see the ranger.  But I kinda hoped that he could see that I was running. Smile



Running up Stair Steps – Almost There!CIMG9677

When I hit West Ridge, I felt rather fatigued.  But I was finally in familiar territory, which made the trek more mentally doable.  I plugged away and finally after several hours from when I began,  reached Top of the World.  For some reason, at that point, I began dreaming of a plain cold water (without electrolytes) and an APPLE.  An apple . . . an apple . . . apple.

Top of the World (THE LONG WAY)CIMG9679

The rest of this run was my regular run.  But instead of running UP Meadows, I got to run down it.  What a relief!

Running down MeadowsCIMG9681

After taking a call from a friend while running down Meadows (and dang it, I forgot to call her back), I called my husband a bit later.  With about 1/2 mile remaining of this run, I called hubby for a ride.  My requests:  a Pink Lady apple and a bottle of cold water.  He delivered as requested when he picked me up at the Aliso/Wood Canyons ranger Station.  The lot was packed with cars.

Miles logged this morning:  16.32,  +2,917/-2,940 elevationMy Activities station to station (crystal cove to aliso) 6-12-2011, Elevation - DistanceMy Activities station to station (crystal cove to aliso) 6-12-2011


  1. Love how you take the bus.

    I wish I could just go wander off and run where ever I wanted without fear, too. Urgh. Sometimes it sucks to be a girl.

  2. That rock rolled arcoss that trail this past winter. Great run.

  3. Another great run! That is a long way to run trails on your own, well done! You are really strong on the trails now. I think you need some trail ultra soon.

  4. You can run up those "steps"? The end map is impressive! Gorgeous trail shots as always. You are brave for running trails (I'm a girly girl about snakes) and for doing it alone - though by now you probably know you're way around most of them.

  5. Awesome run! Love the photos and love that you take the bus there!

    I saw you question re pacing, email me at quadrathon at gmail and we can chat

  6. Green Girl, the bus is so fun! And in my parts it's only $1.50. I think if I were male I would still be fearful of running the mountains alone. It's those dang mountain lions (though gorgeous they are). They aren't known to attack people in groups. But then again, there's those "2 legged coyotes" as my husband calls them, that girls need to be more fearful of : (

  7. Oh my gosh Jeremy! I'm sure glad I wasn't there when that rock made it's trip. That's the first time I was on that particular trail, so I thought it was there all along. It definitely was a great run. Looking forward to the mountains though : )

  8. Thanks Johann! I don't think I'm nearly as strong as I need to be. I really feel that I have a little more in me. But I do have some ultras in mind. One of them is my only DNF. I said I would never return, now I'm considering it, and doing research on heat-training (it's during our hottest month: August).

  9. Thanks for reading Lindsay. Once you get used to snakes, you kinda hope to see one. In fact, I'm a little bummed when I don't see a rattler during rattlesnake season. And it's funny -- I find running uphill on trails much easier than on asphalt.

    ps. I am a total girly-girl too. When I'm not running, I'm in a dress, pretty much AlWAYS : )

  10. Thanks for stopping by Tricia. I'll be running in Texas soon (south of Dallas). I run in the country out there, so I'm a bit paranoid of the ranch/farm/junkyard dogs running after me. But I'm hoping to get in lots of heat-training. Love, love, love Texas!

  11. Thanks Stuart! I really enjoy the bus. People watching and meeting people is one of my pleasures. I'm assuming you mean my comment on facebook re: pacing. I e-mailed you re: that. Hope you have a great weekend running. I'm thinking of trying Bulldog 50k once again. (I MUST be crazy : )

  12. I remember hiking the Appalachian Trail and I coerced the Greyhound bus driver to drop me off by the highway at the trailhead near Knoxville, TN.
    It was against policy, but he thought it was a pretty good idea and a great way to not have to deal with parking a car...I wish buses went to more interesting places and bus routes were actually designed for people who do not intend to drive from the bus stop. It is great you had access to a helpful route!

  13. I so wish buses had better routes to where I wanted to go Windnsnow. I lucked-out on this particular route. Drops me off directly in front of the trailhead(s). Pretty awesome for only $1.50. That's some pretty good convincing to get a Greyhoud bus driver to drop you off at a non-stop area. : )