TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Should Have Turned Back!

I went out for 16 trail miles late this morning.  I was READY.  I had my fluids, my calories.  Hubby was going to pick up the boys from school.  Opting for something semi-different today, I decided on El Moro (the coastal hills in Newport Beach).  Unfamiliar with the trail mileage there, I had only a general plan in mind. 

I ran along a lonely, sunny Bommer Ridge, hopeful for a nice fulfilling run.  I admired the Top of the World across Laguna Canyon.  I looked at Santiago Peak wistfully.  Then I decided to tune-in and look into El Moro Canyon.  That’s when I realized I had missed my trail.  So I turned around and took the first unmarked trail down into Emerald Canyon.  I thought Old Emerald was unmarked, though I wasn’t sure.  But this sure seemed like Old Emerald . . . AT FIRST. 

The trail grew tighter and steeper. And I began to think I had taken the wrong trail.  I broke my own rule concerning situations like this.   I should have turned back.  Oh how I should have turned back. 

Running down what I thought was Old Emerald Trail:

It grew so steep, I slipped and fell.  I had to scoot down over large boulders.  The brush grew thicker  and I found myself sliding, face forward.  And when I landed on my behind, sticks and small branches slipped beneath my shorts and underwear and stabbed my bear butt.  Ouch.

And then I found myself boxed in.  I really, really should have hiked back up to the ridge.  But I was so worn out, I just couldn’t do it.  Big mistake. I followed all forks to discover the brush impenetrable.  Eventually, I spied a trail through the thickness, a trail that I recognized as Emerald Falls (Or maybe it’s called Emerald Canyon).  Either way, it’s a portion of the trail that has been closed for a couple years, so destroyed it was by massive rains.  If only I could get to this trail I could get back on track.  But a large ravine with ten foot walls separated me from this trail, not to mention, massive brush growth. 

I

I managed my way into the ravine, falling of course.  I popped up right away and scoured the area, left and right for a way up to the other side.  There was absolutely NO WAY up.  But I did notice a tree in the distance growing next to the edge.  Holding my handheld with my teeth, I grabbed a branch with both arms, pulled myself up  and climbed the trunk with my legs.  I sat in v-section for a bit to gather my wits.  Then I scooted from the tree to the bank’s edge.  Really.  No lie. 

Popping up after my slide-fall-run into the ravine:

My tree:

Yup, sitting in the tree (got to document it all! : )

Now on the the other side, I’ll tell you – I STILL SHOULD HAVE TURNED BACK.  I was stuck in the midst of a tight thicket.  A thin, thorny vine wrapped me like a cocoon.  “Push through it,” I told myself.  “Push.”  Everything time I tried to break through, the vines tightened and tore at my skin and clothing.  I thought about reaching into the back of my pack to see if I packed my knife.  But I was growing so weary, I didn’t think I could reach back.  I used my hat to push down some of the brush on my right side.  Then struggling, I lifted my right leg high and stomped down on the brush.  I did the same with my left side, and continued on this way until I finally made it to the trail.  I was beat. 

The trails won today.  I don’t usually consider myself playing against the trails.  I play with the trails.  But there are those days like today . . . when I should have turned back!

“Get me the heck home,” was all I could think.  My legs were bloody and scratched.  Welts covered my arms and legs as well.  I wanted so badly to madly sob.  But I really just didn’t have the energy.  The only thing I had the energy to do was run.  I kicked up my feet and ran back up to the ridge and all the way back to my truck, for a total of 8 miles today. 

I’ve been “out of sorts” all day.  Why, why, why, do I break my own rules?  I thought I learned in Texas when I got lost, that I need to turn back and go the same way I came AS SOON AS I REALIZE I’M OFF-TRACK.

It’s not just trail running . . . IT’S AN ADVENTURE!

Finally making it to the trail:

A last glimpse at Santiago Peak:

Just about a mile left:Running Crystal Cove Adventure 9-19-2012, Elevation - DistanceRunning Crystal Cove Adventure 9-19-2012

20 comments:

  1. What a week eh? First you sneaked into burning mountain trough some entrance left unattended, than you take a rail that has been closed for a couple years :)

    What's planned for Sunday?

    I like the way you keep smiling no matter what.

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    1. Well, Daniele, to tell you the truth, I know when the camera's pointing at me, and then I smile. I surely wasn't all smiles on this run. Sunday is make up miles, Saturday is my LONG MOUNTAIN RUN. Stay tuned. Thanks for reading!!!

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  2. Dude. You're crazy! :D

    I want to say I've hiked that sketchy trail, based on your map, but it was years ago, probably before it got all wrecked and overgrown.

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    1. I am definitely crazy Giraffy. Thanks for reading!!! Let me know next time you run El Moro and want company. : )

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  3. Wow your hardcore...that is awesome!Way to get out there and inspire us all!

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    1. Okay : ) If you want to say hard core, I'll go with that. Thanks for reading!!!

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  4. You should have turned back. And when you got back to your truck, you should have had your head examined. Crazy stuff.

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    1. Lumberjack, I definitely need my head examined. I'm an OLD LADY doing this crap. It just ain't right!!

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  5. Great story. Sounds like something I would have done. I sometimes pick a game trail or just go cross country out of curiosity and the results are often less than ideal. Kudos for toughing it out and finding your way! El Moro has some really gnarly terrain.

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    1. David! Great to hear from you. I much appreciate Aliso more than El Moro. Let me know when you can run Aliso during the mid morning! I will join you

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  6. I have strict rules as well but somehow I often get myself not following them. I wonder why we do this? We know better! Glad you finished all OK.

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    1. You know Johann, I just didn't want to climb back up that hill. That's why I broke my rule. : ) Thanks for reading!

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  7. Hmmm. All the trails back there are marked. But they are a single wooden post at the junction. No big signs or anything. I'll get a photo for you when I'm up there this weekend. The issue is that the damn mountain bikers have also created their own single tracks back there. It sounds (and looks) like you got on one of those that dropped you into Emerald Canyon beyond where the trail is (now) closed. Still a great adventure!

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    1. I definitely ended up in the closed section of Emerald Canyon Glenn. And I do believe you are right. The trail was definitely unmarked, so it had to be one of those mountain biker trails. They got me again!!

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  8. Brutal to see these posts but glad you made it through. I have a HUGE phobia of getting lost on trails. A bit battered but you're able to tell your story and it's a learning experience for you and your readers. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Hank. I never thought I could get lost on these trails. They're practically in my backyard. I got a little humility on this run.

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  9. Geeezo...haven't read your blog in a while and this is the one I pick to come back? The only thing that would have made this wilder would have been a mountain lion or an earthquake! But you have one thing wrong in here - you only gave yourself credit for 8 miles. This counts for a lot more - how about 8 miles and 2 of your 9 lives! A noble and brave fight I tell you!

    (Now the funny thing is, twice in the last two days I too have gone sailing past planned turns. The recovery on known paved roads was admittedly a lot easier!)

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    1. Thanks for reading Gary! I really need to calm it down. I've been making too many mistakes lately. I'm smiling in the pics, but it was a tough one! It's easy though to sail past your planned turns though huh?

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  10. you are crazy! i would have never gone that far - i'm too afraid of possible bugs/snakes, lol. i'm glad you pushed through it and made it back safely though.

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    1. Lindsay, I just kept thinking "it" was right around the corner. Then eventually I just got too far in and I was too lazy to hike back out. In retrospect, bad idea. : ) Thanks for reading!

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