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Monday, December 5, 2011

Mile 1,500 Hit and Under Unsafe Conditions : )

The fact that I neared mile 1,500 for 2011 slipped my mind this morning.  I simply wanted a nice long run, say 15 miles.  I also wanted something a little different.  I opted for Crystal Cove State Park because I thought the ocean views would be gorgeous with these Santa Ana winds blowing.

When I arrived to the trails, a man from the OC Parks department parked his truck at the entrance with a tall, antennae-like measuring device.  Worried the park was closed he assured me that he was just watching for fires and that I should call 911 if I see anyone smoking or any smoke whatsoever. (12/6/11 after note:  Would I call 911 if someone were smoking a cigarette in the park?  Firstly, I never have seen anyone smoking on the trails.  But if I did on this particular day, I would NOT call 911.  BUT, I am at least bold enough that I would tell the person that an OC Park Authority told me to call if I saw someone smoking, and that they should put out their smoke.  I would be friendly and explain why it was important on this particular day.  In all honesty, as an ex-smoker however, I believe a smoker would have great difficulty even hiking these trails.)

And then I was off running through the county park Laguna Wilderness, quickly into the State Park, Crystal Cove.  The wind blew cold, but it was dry.  Bundled up and joyfully running the rolling hills of No-Name Ridge, a ranger parked at the side of the trail waved me over.  “I need to talk to you,” she said.  “You have to leave, the park is now closed.”


“Yes, it’s a red-flag alert, stage 4 warning.  Winds.”

You know, I could start a fire, like when I throw my cigarette butt.  Or perhaps when I decide to light an open fire to warm my hands.  Or maybe, I’ll run so fast, the sparks from my shoes will start one!

Stalling for a few seconds to think, I asked, “Do you need to drive me out?”  And I thought to myself, I drove 22 miles to get here and now after 2 miles, I’m going to turnaround and run back to the truck.  I DON’T THINK SO.

“Well,” the ranger said, “did you park up there?” she moved her head indicating the area I had parked. 

“No,” I said.  I ACTUALLY LIED.  Shocked and even a bit dismayed, but also a little ticked I continued, “I parked down there,” and moved my head in the direction of the coast where I had NOT parked.


“Okay,” she said.  “Go ahead and run down to the parking lot and leave.”

A little giddy that I had prolonged my run, I continued the lovely rolling hills, thinking I’d just sneak past the ranger station and make my way to a single track and then eventually Laguna Wilderness (which was not closed).  I studied the trails in the distance carefully to see which ones to avoid, the most visible from No-Name Ridge.

At some point during this glorious run, the ranger drove past me toward the station.  Man!!!  Now she was going to know I lied, because the parking lot was probably empty.  What to say, what to say?  I thought about this for the last half mile into the station.  I thought I could say, "I parked down the highway in North Laguna.  Or, I took a bus.  Or, okay, I LIED.”

With her truck license plate committed to memory, I ran on into the station, relieved to see the lot full with several cars, most of them driving away.  I noted the ranger’s truck parked among several other state trucks.  And as I studied the map, another ranger, a man said, “'Mam.  Did you see the sign?  The parked is closed.  You have to leave.”

‘Mam?  ‘Mam?  Don’t call me ‘Mam!  I suppose I was just a little annoyed.  What was I going to do now?

“I didn’t see any signs,” I snapped.  That was the truth.  But I saw the signs as I walked away dismayed.  The gates to the park were closed with “Do Not Enter” warnings posted.

With the rangers out of sight, I removed my red shirt so that they might not recognize me later wearing the blue shirt I wore beneath.  Then I removed my cap, looked behind me and walked out of the park like I was leaving.  But instead, I jumped over the chain and “closed” sign onto the trail leading to El Moro Canyon. 

I peered over my shoulder relieved that I couldn’t see the ranger station.  Then I came upon another closed sign at El Moro Canyon.  Running with my ipod off, I ran up that trail, listening closely for truck sounds.  I noticed no tire prints on the trail, but still I worried.  I’m not a liar.  I don’t run from rangers.  I was worried, because I knew that I was going to jump into the brush and hide if a truck came by.  What kind of 46-year-old woman does that???  I surprised myself.

I also hugged the left edge during the portions where No-Name overlooked the trail.  And then I came upon a hiker.  “Do you work here?” My question reminded me of those movies where the drug dealers or prostitutes ask a prospective client, “Are you a cop?”

He said that he didn’t work there and upon more questioning, I learned he hadn’t seen any rangers in the canyon, and in fact had never, ever seen a ranger in the canyon.  That’s when I eased up and continued through the wispy canyon, up Elevator and along Fence Line until I finally hit Bommer Ridge – that’s when I was safe – Ahh, Laguna Wilderness.  I ran on in against the cool wind, happy that I had not been cited.  It wasn’t until I looked at my garmin did I realize that I had hit 1,500 miles for 2011. 

What a way to hit 1,500 miles.  My husband cracked up when I told him.  You can bet, my sons didn’t hear this story. 

Yes, it was that chilly this morning:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Pacific Ocean in background, running down to Crystal Cove ranger station:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t think so:  (I hope I can’t be cited after the fact)SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Past the sign, on my way up El Moro Canyon:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The beauty of El Moro Canyon:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Running up Elevator:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA


Quick pose on Fence Line:SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

9.09 miles logged this morning: 

My Activities El Moro 9 mi loop 12-5-2011, Elevation - Distance


  1. Such a rebel!!

    I've never seen the trails closed for wind, that's crazy!

  2. I have been told to get before of the state park. Laguna Wilderness is a little less likely to close. Congrats again on 1500.

  3. 1500 miles! Way to go, you scofflaw!

    P.S. I sure do miss running with you.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Giraffy. I couldn't believe they were closed due to winds either. Crazy!

  5. Crystal Cove does seem to close first and open last when it comes to rains. I never thought they'd close because of winds. Thanks for the encouragement on the miles Jeremy!!

  6. Thanks Tom! I'm too much of a scaredy-cat to be a scofflaw. I miss running with you also. Me and Jessica were hoping you would show on Saturday's new member run since it was in your "neck of the woods." I'm sure we will run again! All the trails I know, I know because of you. Thanks!!

  7. You sure are adventurous! Obviously you wouldn't have started any fires, but I would have been worried about others doing such. I'm glad you made it safely and didn't get in trouble!

  8. Congrats on 1500 miles!! I ran on a "closed" trail once and it was a bit exciting trying to be all covert. Made me run faster. lol

  9. Thanks for reading Lindsay. I totally understand what you are saying. And I'm super glad I didn't get in trouble -- I can't afford a ticket. I couldn't help but thinking though, that kicking people out of the park who cared, was like kicking extra look-out eyes for those who would cause trouble. I kinda considered myself a fire-lookout. We actually have people out here who start fires on purpose during fire season. Crazy! Merry Christmas!

  10. Thanks Kate! I forgot to write that I ran a lot faster too. I was so afraid of getting in trouble, it was sort of ridiculous. I mean, I'm approaching 50 -- when was the last time I got in trouble??? LOL. I wasn't sure how I would handle being scolded or yelled at.