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Friday, November 23, 2012

Fact Finding Mission

One of the things I love doing with my runs is connecting trails.  Or at least trying to.  For a while I’ve been thinking about a new running route to Aliso/Wood Canyons.  As it is, my routes are all street, and dangerous in some parts.  The most direct route posts a new roadside memorial at least once a year. 

The towns around here are filled with bike paths.  My thought was that if I could just connect them to La Paz Lake (Laguna Niguel Regional Park), I’ve got my route.  If I run out the back of the park, I’m at Aliso/Woods. 

I can catch a bike trail pretty easily and safely pretty close to my house.  So, I drove a few miles inland to pick up that same trail this morning.  Did I look at a map to see for sure if and how these trails would lead me to La Paz Lake (also known as Laguna Niguel Lake)?  Heck no.  That would take all the fun out of this fact finding mission.  One thing I did promise myself was:  No Bushwhacking.  I wanted to do this running adventure without trouble.

Ready to take the bike path down into a small valley:

And we’re off:

I could hear the foghorn very clearly shouting from the seashore.  Visibility was minimal.  Because I’ve lived in the area for almost 24 years, I know these cities very well.  BUT today, without view of the natural landmarks, I felt at a loss over the exact direction I ran.   

Right away, I found a dirt trail, which I of course ran down (gleefully).  Deep down, I hoped for a creek side trail for most of the run.  Every single leg I ran dead-ended.

Dirt!  Awesome!!

Dead end!

Dead end!

Dead End!

Dead End!

Okay, maybe this one is it:

Dead End!

Eventually, I had to run back up to the bike trail.  The road curved here and there, ventured up and down rolling hills.  I could hear cars up ahead, and I really could not decipher which road I approached.  Then I looked up and saw a favorite restaurant we used to dine at pre-children.  Niguel Road!  I was headed in the correct direction.  Best part was, the bike trail travelled beneath the road. 

I came upon plenty of runners, lots of hikers and I continued to run that bike path until it finally ended at an enormous baseball park.  I wondered how it could have been that I had never in my life seen these baseball fields. They must have been buried deep in a neighborhood.  Or perhaps the thick fog camouflaged the fields from my recognition.  The bike path continued up to the left and dumped me out in a neighborhood.  I really had NO IDEA where I was.  I wasn’t lost.  I knew that I was in Laguna Niguel.  But where?  I didn’t recognize the street names and I still couldn’t see the land formations.  I saw plenty of runners.  I didn’t ask; just waved.  I enjoyed the mystery.  And then I came to stop light at this beautiful water feature:

I took a left because I felt like that was the correct direction.  It was.  With no bike paths in sight, I made my way across a main, very busy road and ran onto another paved trail.  I knew my exact location at this point and was very confident I would run into the lake in about a mile or two. 

And I did:

I witnessed this gentleman reel in a rainbow trout.  I ran down the bank to capture his picture:

By the time I began my run back, the fog had cleared and I was one happy runner.  A fact finding mission did not turn out as hoped.  But I did make it to the lake.  And I didn’t get into any trouble.  I call that success.  Oh yes, on the way back, I found a dirt trail that cut some distance off the out-and-back and met up with the same bike path where I began this fact finding mission. 

Miles run today: 11.54


  1. I used to take my kids fishing at that lake!

  2. I read they stock 2,000 pounds every Tuesday Glenn. No wonder so many people fish there.