TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

In the Zone

I set out running up Holy Jim this morning in cold weather (in the middle of summer!).  No idea whether I ran a good pace, I merely refused to look at my garmin to inquire.  Why?  It simply didn’t matter today.  My goal: run the loop.  Just run the loop.  And enjoy. 

Holy Jim Parking Lot, bundled up on an unusually cold morning for July:

I decided this morning not to get down on my training.  Trail running is my  passion after all.  My PASSION.  Good times and bad times come with my passion.  Mostly good times.  But ever since I began my training for the hardest race (forget that, hardest physical challenge) of my life, I’ve been getting down on my physical abilities way too much.  So today, I worked, yes.  And it was DANG hard.  But I enjoyed running the trails without negative self-talk.  I relished the dark cool forest of lower Holy Jim and then switch-back after switch-back after switch-back to the Main Divide. 

I ran Holy Jim in solitude as the sun rose above the mountains. When suddenly, I came upon 6 young men and women hiking down – pre-twenties, I’d guess.  Shocked was I!  And I learned that these “kids” began their hike up to Santiago Peak at Midnight.  And then they watched the sunrise from the highest point above Orange County.  Talk about great wholesome fun!

Headed to the Main Divide (at Bear Springs):

I finally looked upon my garmin at the Main Divide.  And I admit, I was a little disappointed that I ran it about twenty minutes slower than my fastest run up Holy Jim.  (I’m okay with that – the first time I went up Holy Jim I walked most of it!)  After exploring Bear Springs a bit, I actually found a trickle of a spring in the crack of the mountain.  Then I took off along the Main Divide with time goals in mind.  I gave myself 90 minutes to get to West Horse Thief.  It’s only about five miles, but a TOUGH five miles.  I enjoyed the up and down, mostly up.  And isn’t it weird that I made it in exactly 90 minutes?

I didn’t waste much time at the West Horse Thief trailhead.  Instead, I hopped right over the railing and headed down running as quickly as possible.  My goal was to run without the fear, and not take that rocky switch-back so slowly.  I ran, and I ran fast, focusing hard on my surroundings.  And then somewhere in that, it seemed that I grew into the mountain.  I was in the zone.  In a surreal manner, I noticed everything around me at once.  I saw the smooth places to step.  I noticed the flat spot on boulders.  And I ran so quickly over the rocks they didn’t roll.  I also noticed where horses recently fell off the trail into the ravine.  (I’ve ran that trail many times since that terrible incident occurred, and never noticed the obvious location where it occurred). 

I never tripped on my way down Horse Thief today, and I kept my speed up.  Success!  When I hit Trabuco trail I increased my speed, and ran hard all the way back to the truck.  I found it mentally tiring to stay in the moment focusing so intently.  But it was great!

My Activities Holy Jim Horse Thief Loop 7-28-2012 copyMy Activities Holy Jim Horse Thief Loop 7-28-2012, Elevation - Distance

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Back on Easy Week

The moon looks like a perfect half this evening.  If I were a night runner, I could definitely get into that!  The moon was not out when I left my house this morning (or at least I didn’t see it).  The weather was already warm for being so early in the morning (7:00 AM).  The skies however, were gray, gray, gray.  Nice for summer running.  And I really needed this morning’s run.

I’m back on easy week this week.  I missed the first 2 runs of this week’s plan because it’s been so hectic at work.  A bit of background: I “taught” summer school for “late grads,” that is, students who didn’t get their credits in time to graduate for June.  I put “taught” in quotes because my job wasn’t as much teaching, as much as it was motivating, and pushing, and convincing young men and women into achieving their diploma.  It was exhausting work. Especially this last week (which ended yesterday, Wednesday). In 5 weeks, I made 87 phone calls on my own time.  Double that for e-mails pushing these “kids.”  And they were all worthwhile.    

Many of these young men and women succeeded.  And I will never see them again.  That’s kinda sad.  But happy is, many achieved their diplomas and  can move on in life, and happy is, I did make it out the door this morning for a run in Aliso/Wood Canyons Park. 

I really had no plan how many miles I would run.  I thought just do the minimum planned, and make up for the first two days, whatever I can.  The trails were lonely this morning, except for a few other runners who were not carrying water.  By the time I reached Wood Canyon, I decided I would run up Meadows Trail which is a nice, pretty-steep switch-back, but not too terrible.  At one time I would have called it hellish.  Now, I refer to it as a “mini”-Holy-Jim-type-trail.  It’s a switch-back and steep like Holy Jim.  But instead of five miles, Meadows is only 1.25 miles.  Heaven. 

I took it at a mellow stride.  On the flats I pushed for a faster pace.

Entering Meadows Trail:

Climbing Meadows:

Top of Meadows:

After reaching the top of Meadows Trail, I knew I could put in more than scheduled, and make up a little for the first two days missed this week.  Though the weather was muggy, a cool breeze blew here and there.  Not only that, plenty of friendly hikers made their way along the trail.  Most of them were carrying those “walking poles.”  I don’t know what that hiking gear is called.  But I’ve seriously considered purchasing them after having so much trouble running down rocky, steep inclines in the Saddleback Mountains. 

This morning, I saw a trail runner with those “poles.”  I really pushed after I heard her nipping at my heals.  I DID NOT WANT HER TO PASS.  Eventually, I looked back on the sly, and didn’t see her anywhere.  I supposed that she turned down another road or made it to her home.  My fear is that I’d trip and stab myself in the gut with those poles on a steep decline like West Horse Thief.

Top of the World pose:

For the first time, it seems in a long time, I ran a strong finish.  After running down Rock-it trail, a technical decline that I tried to run swiftly, I made my way onto a lovely, of-and-on-shady trail named Coyote Run.  As I ran this trail, two large deer crossed the single track a few feet in front of me.  I grabbed my camera from my Ultimate Direction pack pocket. I caught some pictures, but not good enough to post.  Then . . . THEN, right after I put the camera away, I noticed another large doe hiding in the brush.  She was a beauty.  I decided to keep the camera tucked away and keep on grooving.  I had by the way found my groove today, and I didn’t want to blow that. 

I ran into the ranger station stronger than I have than it seems like ages.  Now that my teaching job is over for the summer, I’m going to try to stay with “the plan.”  Here’s to hoping I can do it.  After napping today, I worked on upper body strength and ab work.  I really feel I have a long way to go.  But all is good.  Today’s run was awesome, regardless of the training plan.  Yay!

Thanks for reading, or for at least looking at my pictures.

HAPPY RUNNING!

Elevation profile for today’s route:  Aliso Creek Trail, Wood Cyn Trail, Meadows Trail, Top of the Workd, Park Ave. Nature Trail, West Ridge, Rockit, Coyote Run, Wood Canyon, Aliso Creek Trail: 

Approx. 11.3 miles. 

My Activities up Meadows down Rock it 7-26-2012, Elevation - Distance

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Deer Staring into the Head Lights

I actually made it out the door, driving to the mountains at 4:40 AM.  So early in the morning, I drove cautiously on the lookout for drunk drivers.  But I didn’t need to worry about them.  Instead, a deer jumped out in front of me as I drove the toll road to Trabuco Canyon.  I have ALWAYS heard that if you’re going to hit a deer, don’t slam on your brakes.  If you slam on your breaks the deer will fly into your windshield upon impact.  If you can’t avoid the animal, you’re supposed to hit it head-on.  Yikes.  I would find that difficult to do. 

Fortunately, I was so cautious looking for drunk drivers, that I saw the deer before it even hopped onto the highway.  And being that I was on the road alone, I was able to tap my breaks and slow down in time.  The deer stood in the middle of my lane for a second, looking straight into my head lights, and I thought, “Oh no!  It’s going to be one of those situations – a deer staring into my headlights runs head-on into my truck.”  As it turned out, the doe turned around and hopped back over the barrier into the wilderness.

I’m rather glad that I didn’t need to hit a deer.

The sky still black when I drove into Trabuco Canyon Lot, I couldn’t see a hint of the mountain range.  Then I drove that long 4.5 mile bumpy road to the Holy Jim lot.  By the time I arrived, the sun had not risen above the horizon, but the sky was light from its morning glow.  Six other cars were parked in the lot, and that made me oh so happy!  I chatted briefly with several cyclists as they took off for a Trabuco/Holy Jim loop.

My agenda:  20 mountain miles

Of course, I included Santiago Peak in my run.  Why?  Because the peak KILLS me (that is the last 2.5 miles getting there), and also Twin Peaks Ultra goes there TWICE.  Looks like I’m the deer staring into the head lights. 

I decided to ascend West Horse Thief instead of descend today.  To get to West Horse Thief, I first needed to run 2 1/2 miles of shady, gnat-filled Trabuco Trail.  After a couple of gnats actually landed on my eyeballs, I put down the sunglasses and ran in a dark forest.   

Trabuco Trail: 

West Horse Thief in the morning was lovely.  I ran mostly in the shade with awesome valley views, and also views of Santiago Peak.  I practiced my power hike on the steepest portions and ran the less steep portions.  Before I knew it, I caught up with two of the mountain bikers I met in the parking lot.  They were flabbergasted.  “Do you ever see anyone RIDE up this trail?” they asked. 

“Only down,” I answered. 

They realized first that we met when I drove into the Holy Jim lot. 

“Hey, weren’t you guys going up Trabuco?”

“We ARE,” they both replied.

“No, you’re on West Horse Thief.”  They practically did a backflip laughing.  They laughed even louder when they asked me to describe where they went wrong.   I told them that at the sign, they needed to follow the arrow pointing to Trabuco.  Smile  Very cool guys to be able to laugh at themselves.  And friendly.   

Anyway, the best thing about West Horse Thief is that it’s getting easier, AND I’ve got it memorized, AND it’s really over before I realize it. 

Pointing out Santiago Peak from West Horse Thief:

Next up, I ran the Main Divide for several miles up to Santiago Peak (about 4.5 to Holy Jim and 2.5 more to the peak).  Heat was EXTREME.  And I passed several groups of hikers resting in the shade at the top of Holy Jim Trail.  I noticed about 3 of those hikers tying bandanas around their faces, to avoid the gnats no doubt.  I wanted to tell them that doesn’t work – I’ve tried it.  It only nearly made me suffocate.  But I decided they would learn that soon enough.  I learned the best way to deal with gnats is to breath through the nose, put up with them landing on your face, and wear earplugs for music (because they WILL fly into your ears).

About a mile away from the peak, I also met two male hikers coming down, they were so ecstatic and friendly, I asked if I knew them.  It seemed that I had to know them by the way they were acting.  They said, “No.  We just haven’t seen ANYONE, and all of a sudden here comes you, A LADY!  Great job!!!”   They knew how to do this hike, I could tell by the driven way they progressed down the trail in the heat.  

The Main Divide:

Santiago Peak:

I met even more hikers as I made my way down.  It seemed I was a novelty.  They had all come up via Holy Jim and wanted to know which way I had come.  No one had heard of West Horse Thief, and most wanted directions.  I didn’t give them the nitty gritty about how you want to die the first, second, third, etc. time you go up that trail.  But I gave them precise directions.  If they can hike to Santiago Peak, they can hike up West Horse Thief.

I took Upper Holy Jim on the way down, that very tricky single track.  I met several hikers.  I also came upon a group of young men and a few ladies resting in the shade.  They seemed the “survivalist” types, clean cut, wearing khakis with their knives in holders on their belts.  I wear mine simply clipped to my pack.  Anyway, the entire group stood up and moved so that I could pass. 

I thought that I’d make good time running down “lower” Holy Jim.  Turns out, that’s when I felt the effects of heat exhaustion begin to set in.  I felt just like I did when I DNF’d Bulldog a few years back.  I felt overheated to the core, lightheaded and wanted nothing more than to lay down in the dirt.  I put my hands on my knees and stood in the shade for a few minutes then took off, conserving fluids.  About a mile later, I caught sight of the rockslide near the spring that I often refill at and began guzzling my fluids more frequently.  At the spring, I drank up, filled two of my handhelds and emptied my shoes of rocks.  Then I drenched  my head with that cold spring water.  I also washed my face, drenched my head again and draped it with a cold, wet bandana.  I felt revived.  But not enough to run a fast pace to the canyon floor.

I took the remaining 3.5 miles at a comfortable pace, practicing my pivots at the switchbacks.  I met many suffering cyclists, all going down.  I also came upon many, many hikers going up, all seeming like they weren’t carrying nearly enough fluids.  When two cyclists passed me at a slow pace, I stepped to the edge and nearly fell back.  I felt a great camaraderie when one of the cyclists reached out to grab my hand and pull me back. Both guys apologized profusely when they didn’t do anything wrong. 

After I passed the detour to Holy Jim Falls, I came upon dozens and dozens of hikers, all making their way or leaving the falls -- more hikers than I have ever seen making the trek.  With about 1 mile remaining I crossed the creek where a male and female hiker sat down to rest on their way to the falls.  They were young, very young, probably 19 or 20.  Their hair was shiny, their skin smooth and flawless.  As they each took out a perfectly white cigarette to light up, they asked me this, “Did you run to the falls?” 

I nearly busted up laughing.  But I held it in.  I didn’t want to shame the young couple.  I mean, “Did it look like I had run 1.5 miles to the falls and was now returning?”  My clothing was crusted in salt.  My head was draped with a bandana, and I had just saved myself from heat exhaustion. 

I stopped briefly and told them where I ran and they both laughed and said, “That’s crazy!!” 

I replied, “You’re right, that is crazy; I AM crazy,” and I bid them farewell and a good time at the falls.

This running adventure should be over except for one thing.  The parking lot was full as I did some minor stretching at my truck.  I could hear a branch snapping, a distinct sound that I remember from my youth.  When I was about 17 or 18 I was playing Frisbee in the forest (yes, this is true, my husband-to-be was there as well) when suddenly we heard a loud creaking sound.  We all stopped to listen and witnessed a tree simply fall to the ground before our eyes. 

Well, I heard this exact creaking today.  And it grew frequent.  I could tell that it came from above from one of the several enormous trees that a row of cars, including mine parked beneath.  I hurried to unlock my truck and drive away when in my nervousness I fumbled.  Another woman was walking around her car.  And then we both heard it, the loud creak, then CRACK.  Having no idea where this thing might land, I ran away from the sound, to the back of my truck and stooped down beneath the truck bed.  The other lady ran too.  She hollered something out loud.  Stooped down I hollered back, “Where is it?” 

“Above the white car” she said.  With that I stood and looked up.  A huge branch had broken and was now weighing down on another over-sized branch.  That branch in turn was creaking like it would break soon too.  The other lady got out of harm’s way and paced about her van.  I drove out ASAP.  As soon as I got cell service, I phoned the ranger station number that I got from information.  They were closed!  And the recording didn’t even give me the opportunity to leave a message. 

As such was today’s lovely long run adventure.  You too can have this much fun when you hit the trails. 

I’m serious.

Thanks again for reading!

My Activities W Horse Thief - Santiago Peak - Holy Jim 7-22-2012, Elevation - Distance

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Low Point in Training

I can’t get my groove lately, and I’m experiencing a momentary lapse of progress in my training.  For a while there, I felt stronger, I ran faster, I finished faster.  I’m guessing about a week and a half ago fatigue hit me like a brick wall.  Suddenly, I feel weak, I’m running slower and finishing even slower.  I won’t even get started on the negative self-talk that’s been whirling around my head.

I kept Friday as scheduled, a rest day.  Today, Saturday, was my scheduled long run.  I woke at 4:30 AM, walked out to the living room and said to myself, “I. JUST. CANNOT. DO. IT.”  Knowing that I will get my groove back, hopefully very soon, I nicely kicked my son off the couch (why was he sleeping on the couch?) and fell back asleep on the couch.  I woke every hour, on the hour after that, when I finally awoke for good at 9:00 AM. 

I decided to swap today’s training with tomorrow’s, and go for a ten mile run this afternoon.  My feet hit dirt around 12:30 PM.  Extremely hot out there, I felt sluggish at the start.  A half mile in, I thought I just can’t do this.  But I trudged on in the blistering heat anyway.  After a mile and a half I decided, heck, just visit some of your favorite nearby places in Wood Canyon, chuck the training, simply run and enjoy the scenery.

And then the pressure was off.  The next mile was still tough.  But after a rest in a naturally air conditioned cave called Dripping Cave, the remaining miles were bearable, and there were even fleeting moments of enjoyment.

Who knows if I’ll get my long run in tomorrow.  I am definitely burned-out.  We shall see. : )  On the good side, I got some more pictures.  LOL.  Thanks for reading!

A Squished Scorpion:

Short-cut up Cave Rock:

Glorious shade on the way to Dripping Cave:

Dripping Cave:

Waiting for my groove (ha, ha) next to Wood Creek:

Running back (yay!) on Aliso Creek Trail:

Miles run this afternoon:  5.38

Thursday, July 19, 2012

“Through [the] Strange Hours [I] Linger Alone.”

Hectic, hectic week.  With next week the last of summer work for me, I have been busy with work, busy with anxiety over students succeeding, busy with other issues that I’ll leave unwritten.  Needless to say, I didn’t get my first two training runs of the week.

I set off this morning before sunrise, headed for Saddleback Mountains.  Though today’s plan dictated 12 miles, I opted for a 14 mile loop up Holy Jim Trail to The Main Divide, down West Horsethief, and ending with Trabuco Trail back to my truck. 

I get a little giddy when “The Saddleback” comes in sight – driving the toll road this morning, there she is!:

I arrived to a canyon lot and noticed only two cars – both of them apparently empty, one locked up, the other with its windows down, inside a battery type light that was lit on the dashboard.  That spooked me for no reason other than I found it unusual.  I drove the canyon road to Holy Jim parking lot quicker than usual.  It’s a rocky ride – very bumpy in my little truck.  About a half mile from the Holy Jim parking lot, I came upon two sheriff squad cars, both of the officers standing in the road. 

I slowed and rolled down my window.  “Is it safe to go in there?”

“Sure,”  one of the officers said.  “You going for a run?” 

I wondered how he knew, but then realized my garmin gave me away when he said he had the same garmin.  After talking running for a bit, the officers told me to let them know if I saw a certain type of car (which they described to me). 

“Should I be scared of it?”

“Oh no,” they replied.  “Just wanting to make sure they’re all right.”

When I told them that I didn’t have cell service in the mountains, they said, that was okay, that if I saw the car, mark the trail and let them know when I’m done.

Hmmm.  Now, that was odd.  As I drove away, I wondered why I would need to mark the trail, when it donned on me that they thought that I might see it off the road, as in, drove off the mountain.  Yikes. 

Spooked again, being the only person in the Holy Jim lot:

Holy Jim was quiet, lonely and tranquil.  Beautifully cool and a bit dark, I ran this portion with a slightly aching right hamstring and calve.  About 1 mile in I stopped to stretch the right leg and spotted a rather large campsite hidden deep in the brush, camouflaged a great deal by the forest.  With no road access to the sight, I was tempted to investigate, but then decided to run off quietly, spooked again that perhaps I noticed something I wasn’t suppose to notice. 

A half mile later, I noted from my garmin, I ran upon a red beach towel spread out over a boulder.  This was about the fourth thing out of the ordinary – most of them silly – bit still.  I couldn’t wait to get out of the shaded forest of Holy Jim’s Trail.

I didn’t make great time running up Holy Jim.  But I took deep breaths of beauty and enjoyed myself.  I didn’t see a single person.  And . . . and I wasn’t fooled by a false summit.  I think I’ve finally got the five miles memorized.  (A false summit to me is a high point on the trail that I either think is the last of the hill or some kind of turning point, like another trail head, etc, and it ends up not being so.  A false summit is a big mental downfall in my running). 

The gnats finally found me on The Main Divide.  They were thick at times, other times thin.  More than once I breathed in 3 or 4 through my nose at once!  Out of tissue, my shirt came in handy. 

The Main Divide:

By the time I reached West Horsethief, I would say that my mental game was pretty much lost.  I couldn’t shake the negative talk.  And though I told myself to take this steep switch-back swiftly, I ran it too cautiously.  Extremely rocky, I just couldn’t get over the fear factor.  I thought about how much time I’d lose in Twin Peaks running down West Horsethief, and frankly, that pissed me off. 

At the bottom of Horsethief, I forced myself to shake off the negative stuff and just enjoy the rest of the run.  And that is what I did.  I ran that last very long 3 miles a bit slowly, but enjoyed it nonetheless.

Reaching West Horsethief:

Entering W. Horsethief:

This is how I felt running down, slipping and sliding, tripping along the way down West Horsethief Trail:

But the view was awesome:My Activities Holy Jim W Horsethief Loop 7-19-2012, Elevation - DistanceMy Activities Holy Jim W Horsethief Loop 7-19-2012

ps.  If you wonder why I punctuated the title of this blog that way, it’s because I used a Doors song line, but switched out two words, which I bracketed. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Feels Like Cheating

I wondered how on Earth I was going to get in ten miles today after a run like yesterday’s.  I woke late this morning sore and a bit groggy.  I've made too many training plan adjustments, so I KNEW I would run ten miles today, no matter how much it hurt.  BUT I wasn’t rushing out the door to do it.  Instead, I washed dishes, floors, clothes, did grocery shopping, made breakfasts, lunches, checked up on my students on-line.  I emptied trash, fed our dog, washed more dishes, organized my running gear.  One might think I was doing everything I could to avoid THE RUN. 

To save on gas, time away from the family and more realistically miserable muggy heat, I decided to run out my front door late this afternoon for today’s run.  The sun shined down strongly, but with the cool ocean breeze, I found the heat pleasantly bearable.  Not only that, I ran on pavement, mostly flat pavement, and I felt strong.  So strong, it felt like I was cheating.  I’m not claiming that today was one of those effortless runs.  No; my calves were tight at the onset.  And I sweated buckets running through the beach campground with their bar-b-que’s and campfires roaring.  But it was certainly no mountain run.  I didn’t run fast, but I found relative ease keeping a decent pace for the entire run.  That just doesn’t happen on mountain runs (a decent pace the entire run, that is).  No way!! 

That’s okay.  I needed a run like today.  But I felt strong for only about the first 4 1/2 miles.  My energy began petering out at about mile five.  That’s way too early for me.  More proof that I needed a run that felt like I was cheating today. 

How I run down flights of stairs – eyes glued to the steps so that I don’t trip:

The boardwalk at Capo:

Running with no gear on my back, no pepper spray . . . the glory of road running:

The marina:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Way Over My Head

I set my phone alarm last night for 4:30 AM.  As I tossed and turned trying to sleep while the whole house was awake, I made a decision.  My decision was, no Bulldog 50k this year.  This is not the year of redemption for my (so far) only DNF.  This is the year of Twin Peaks, and I’m doing all I can just to finish that 50 miler. I don’t think a preoccupation on Bulldog is the best for me.  

Today’s training plan dictated 22 miles.  Being the middle of summer here in the U.S.,  I’m finding difficulty training for a big fall race, being that it’s so dang hot.  It’s especially difficult when that race is set in the mountains. 

22 miles the plan said, 22 miles I ran.  And after all the heat and torture that I went through, I’d have to say that the best thing that came out of today’s training is that I didn’t die.  Seriously!  And oh ya, I didn’t fall.  Oh, and I didn’t get heat stroke.  Most of all, this run showed me that I’ve got A LONG WAY TO GO and that I have once again bitten off more than I can chew.

So, how do I run a 22 mile suffer-fest in the local mountains on a scorcher of a day without turning around and walking/crawling back to the car?

First off, I left early (but still not early enough).  Secondly, I broke the run into parts.  Without parts I could have never done this run. 

Before “The Parts” / Holy Jim Parking Lot:

About 5:45 AM, coating myself with sunscreen, then putting on a warmer shirt (ha, ha).

Ready to go (the lot is empty except for my truck).

Part 1: Holy Jim Trail (from lot to top, Bear Springs, 5 miles):

The run through the forest was muggy, lots of gnats.  In order to keep the gnats out of my eyes, I wore sunglasses, which meant I pretty much ran in the dark during the first 1.5 miles or so.

Going up on this giant switch-back, back and forth, back and forth.

Part 2: The Main Divide to Santiago Peak (approx. 2.5 miles):

Though only a short distance, this portion was excruciating, especially after the Holy Jim trip.  Besides the steep terrain, I got gnats, biting (horse?) flies and mostly exposed trail (meaning SUN and more SUN).

Running with my training friends THE GNATS.  They’re with me, so that in October when they’re gone, it will seem easier.

A view from Santiago Peak, above the clouds:

Trying for a different kind of pose (okay, you can laugh – I had to think quick!)

Part 3:  Santiago Peak, Main Divide, Upper Holy Jim to Main Divide over to Indian Truck Trail (approx. 5 miles):

Running back to the towers at Santiago (“Talking”) Peak.

Running Upper Holy Jim had lots of tricky and rocky terrain, but at last some shade!  I concentrated so hard on the rocks and not tripping, that once I turned a corner and nearly screamed when I suddenly came upon father and son hikers resting upon some boulders.

Back on the Main Divide, the heat was beginning to wear me down.

Part 4: Indian Truck Trail (In it’s entirety this trail is 6.5 miles one-way, I ran 1.25 down, 1.25 back up today):

Though this part was also short, I found it very difficult.  Even my downhill pace was SLOW.  Really.  I ran through an oven on this trail.  And I also saw the only two runners I would see on this long run.

Heading back up Indian Truck Trail posing before Lilium pardalinum (Panther Lily):

Part 5: Indian Truck Trail to West Horsethief (approx. 3 miles):

These approximate 3 miles were very slow.  However, I was only fooled once by a “false summit.”  Good news, I’m getting to know this mainly uphill portion of The Main Divide.

Part 6: Down West Horsethief, Trabuco Trail back to Holy Jim parking lot (approx. 5 miles):

West Horsethief at last!!  From here it was downhill, a very steep and rocky downhill for the first mile or so.  Then an in and out of shade (forest/desert/forest/desert, etc) for the remainder of the run back to the Holy Jim lot.

West Horsethief comes to an end.

Trabuco, wonderful Trabuco!

I did not gain much confidence on this run.  Rarely did I feel strong.  Mostly I felt doomed when it comes to Twin Peaks.  I tried not to think of that too much though.  I mainly thought, “one foot in front of the other.”   Forget what I said above about the best thing that came out of this run.  The best thing that came out of this run was that I did it. 

My Activities up Holy Jim to peak, upper Holy Jim, ITT, Main Divide, Horsethief 7-14-2012, Elevation - Distance