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Sunday, July 24, 2011

When the Cussin’ Ceases on Holy Jim

This morning I finally got back to the mountains (Thanks to Jeremy H. and Hank G.), specifically my favorite trail Holy Jim.  I never run the mountains alone, so I am most appreciative that I had these two friends to run with.

My history with Holy Jim Trail in the Cleveland National Forest:  I first “ran” Holy Jim during the Saddleback Marathon last November.  That race was the first time I had ever laid eyes on the trail.  I ran the beginning portions, but somewhere along the switch-back climbing, I lost all energy and had to hike.  I began leg and foot cramping toward the end, and even found myself crawling through several inches of acorns to reach the top.  I had no idea when it was going to end, so the experience was pretty much torturous.  I’m not sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I said one or two cuss words on Holy Jim that day.

That experience really “got my goat”.  I wasn’t going to let Holy Jim chew me up like that again.  My goal is to make it up that five mile trail as much as possible.

General History of Holy Jim Trail:  The trail is named after James T. Smith who lived in a cabin off the trail during the late 1800’s.  He was a beekeeper who also grew fig trees.  He was originally known by the name “Cussing Jim.”  Apparently, according to one source Jim was “a man given to blasphemous eloquence. When he started cussing. . . he could peel paint off a stove pipe."  Anyway, when surveyors arrived in 1870, they thought it more appropriate to name the canyon “Holy Jim” instead of “Cussing Jim.”

Today’s Adventure:  I actually started off this trail run feeling cold.  That’s a laugh, because not fifteen minutes in I ached to take off my long-sleeved shirt.  But I waited until our detour where we stopped at Holy Jim Falls.  After a quick few pictures, I peeled off that shirt and took off again behind Hank and Jeremy toward the trail.  The climb up Holy Jim was breathtakingly beautiful.  Yet, it was HOT.  Go figure.  Smile

I ran the entire Holy Jim Trail, sure at times at a snail’s pace.  Hank lead the pack and waited patiently at the Bear Springs on the Main Divide as Jeremy and I arrived.  From there, the weather grew even hotter.  But it was bearable.  Only once did my temperature rise to 2 degrees above normal.  Mostly, despite feeling otherwise, it remained normal or at most 1 degree above. 

The big climb on Lake Elsinore’s side of the Main Divide nearly did me in.  But I kept my eyes on the prize – DOWNHILL and a cold creek at the bottom.  Jeremy ran out of water first.  Not that he came ill-prepared.  He brought along more than I.  It was just that hot out this morning along the ridge.  We drained our water quickly.  That worried me a bit, so I began to conserve my fluids as we ran that rocky switch-back down Horsethief.  I tripped SEVERAL times.  I never fell. 

Upon finally reaching the canyon, I drenched myself in the nearly ice-cold creek.  Jeremy came up and did the same.  And then I ran on in those last extremely hot and long remaining three plus miles, running out of water with about 2.5 miles remaining.  I hadn’t seen Jeremy since the creek or Hank since somewhere on Horsethief.  I knew how to get back.  But I worried that Hank, being such an excellent runner, was going to get out so far ahead he could take a wrong turn (he’s used to trails elsewhere).  And I worried about Jeremy’s lack of water for so long.  He had decided to conserve energy and was back behind me.  Apparently though, Jeremy seemed to handle lack of fluids WAY better than I do. (I think it’s the mother in me, because there was no need to worry).

I met up with Hank on Trabuco and we ran on into the lot and straight into the stream.  I wanted to lay down in it.  Instead we just drenched ourselves with that cold, cold water until Jeremy came in.  And this is how well Jeremy takes lack of water.  He didn’t even dive into the creek, he went straight to the car, got some water and chatted with mountain bikers until Hank and I finally pulled ourselves from the stream to head on home.

Great run!  Wonderful company!

Miles logged:  14.3 (23.01km) / ps.  I should note that I wore my regular New Balance Trail shoes, not the Minimus due to the length and harshness of this run.

Scenes from today’s Holy Jim (Cussin’ Jim) Run:

Prepped to go (left to right, Jeremy, Hank & Me):SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Stream Crossing on Holy Jim Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Holy Jim Falls (photo compliments of Jeremy):

View climbing Holy Jim:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Glorious shade on Holy Jim Trail:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Nearing top of Holy Jim:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Jeremy running Main Divide:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

View toward The O.C. at Indian Truck Trail and Main Divide Junction:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

(Photo compliments of Jeremy)


Ready to descend on Horsethief:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Flowers along Horsethief:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

View from Horsethief:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA






Elevation Profile:

My Activities Holy Jim 7-24-2011, Elevation - Distance


  1. You are enjoying your running so much nowadays and you are in such good shape that you enjoy the hard, tough ones as well. Super! Beautiful photos! This surely is enough to get you to enter that race...

  2. That's lovely, I can't believe I've never been up there... so green, even in the summer. Who knew!?

  3. My body felt/feels like I just finished Catalina. I would never of thought I would go through 128 oz of fluids in 10 miles. But really I should not be surprised since I try to get down over 200 oz a day. Saddleback is a killer... one day it is hypothermia and the next is dehydration. You really need to come prepared. But then again I just need to but more work up there. Good job Lauren and Hank.

  4. I needed that trail run in a big way. Thanks Lauren and Jeremy!!! I didn't realize i was down to my last drops of water until I arrived home and took out the bladder from the pack. Very tough and scenic run with friends. Looking forward to the next trail running adventure. Happy Trails!!!

  5. I don't know about that Johann. Still considering. But true! I am having lots of fun. I really enjoy the mountain runs. Wish I could get up there every week.

  6. Thanks for coming out Jeremy. Yikes. That is a lot of water. I'm still trying to figure out how to carry enough water for a Holy Jim, Main Divide, Trabuco loop. I think I can switch out my 100 oz. camelback bladder for the one that's in my ultimate direction. But I'll still have to carry more water if it's as hot as it was for us.

  7. Giraffy -- thanks for reading. You got to make it up there. It's so close. You don't have to start at the bottom. Drive up Hwy 74 and go into Blue Jay Campground -- lots of trails come out of there.

  8. Thanks for coming out Hank! I wish I could make it out your way for those awesome trails. That will have to wait until we get a second car. I posted another Holy Jim run on OCTR. I'll contact you via Facebook to see if you're interested and can make it.

  9. Very cool Lauren! Did you guys go in from Trabuco Canyon? I heard that road took quite a beating during last winter's storms. Also, have you thought about getting something like a Steripen ? It' small and light and would let you refill your water from any stream or spring.