click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Blue Jay to Blue Jay

I drove up the mountain again in the dark this morning.  And this time, I didn’t make the long drive just to check the weather and drive back (like I did last weekend).  My eyelids were heavy, the weather was cold.  And I so, so, so didn’t want to run.  (What’s going on with me???)  I wanted more than anything to drive home and go back to sleep. 

My truck parked in Blue Jay at The Main Divide, I applied sunscreen, Glide.  I briefly considered taking a nap in my truck.  Only the fear of a crazed killer breaking my window and slashing my throat as I slept stopped me.  “Just get out of the car and start marching,” I told myself.  And that I did.  Up the Main Divide, I hiked, I ran, I suffered as the sun rose above the horizon.

Nearly  two miles later, I felt in the groove – just in time for a nice long downhill on Trabuco Trail.  I felt good.  Loose.  I made good time.  I even made better time than usual when it got rocky.  AND IT GOT ROCKY.   Amazingly, I came upon running friend Mark R. on that trail.  I write “amazingly” because out of all the trails, and all the hours in the day, it’s a big coincidence that I’d come upon a friend in these lonely woods. 

Trail running is so fun!

Running down a serene Trabuco Trail: 

Rocks.  And more rocks!:

I wasted twenty, yes TWENTY minutes at the bottom of Trabuco.  I dug out my water stash, refilled my pack.  The weather warming up, I had to peel off layers and somehow find room for them in my pack.  With a full water bladder, I needed to cram my belongings into my pack to fit.  I broke one of the bungee cord tie downs on the backside.  I feared I might bust the zippers too, my pack was so full.  Ended up, I had to take out a water bottle and carry it.  (I drank it on the way up Holy Jim to get rid of the weight.)

On the way up Holy Jim, I was lucky to come upon a California Mountain King Snake.  It was beautifully colored, bright orange, black and white.  But, alas, it moved too fast for me to catch a photo.  I made decent time, not great, but not terrible, running slowly up Holy Jim.  The main thing was, I didn’t suffer much.  I didn’t suffer much because I finally realized how to run Holy Jim.  The secret is: Fully expect another switchback at every single bend, otherwise your heart will break again and again.  In other words, don’t look for the end.  Don’t expect the end.  Just keep going and take in the beauty. 

Warming up on Holy Jim: 

I put my hands on my hips at least once.  And I grabbed a couple tree trunks on my final ascent to Bear springs.  Again, I was amazed this morning.  Bear Springs was actually CROWDED with people taking in the giant shade before a big trek to Santiago Peak.  I had to get a picture.  I stood back from the group, snapped a photo and one of the young women turned and looked at me.  “I know you,” she said.  I started filing through runners in my mind to place her.  Before I could finish she said, “You’re Lauren.  I read your blog!” 

Wow!  Talk about a picker-upper.  I chatted a bit with Maria and her friends (in photo below).  She was so nice and encouraging about my Old Goat training.  She made me feel like I was almost there as far as training, instead of how I’ve been feeling, which is I’m NO WHERE CLOSE.

Bear Springs:

I took off rested on The Main Divide back toward Blue Jay, noticing cougar tracks in far too many places.  They were small tracks, but much too big for a bobcat.  They probably belonged to a juvenile.  I’ve seen cougar tracks on occasion, especially on Harding Truck Trail, but never on this trail. 

The remainder of this 21 mile run was a grueling, yet joyful, up and down, up and down rocky truck trail.  I ran up on snow several times, using the opportunity to fill my cap with it so that I could keep my head cool.

Looking toward the Pacific Ocean (at Indian Truck Trail intersection):

I’m so relieved that I got out and ran instead of napping in my truck.

Great gain today (6,344’):Running Blue Jay, Main Divide, Trabuco, Holy Jim, Main Divide, Blue Jay 3-2-2013, Elevation - DistanceRunning Blue Jay, Main Divide, Trabuco, Holy Jim, Main Divide, Blue Jay 3-2-2013


  1. Hi Lauren!

    It was so nice to meet you yesterday! Sorry, I hope I didn't come out like some stalker...I was just so happy to meet you! You've been such an inspiration. Thanks to you, I've been running trails more than the road!

    I love reading your blog and look forward to your races and adventures.


    P.S. I ordered a hydration pack from Amazon. I ended up getting Nathan, not Ultimate Direction.

    1. Maria, it was a great pleasure to meet you. Not stalker-like at all. : ) I'm glad you found a pack you like. They are the best. And I love having extra space to pack things.

  2. Beautiful, as always! So fun to run into a reader! :)

  3. Lauren, I've been following your blog and have wondered...and since your brought up the crazy murderous guy in this post...do you generally feel safe when trail running alone? I'm a female runner in SoCal also, and I just don't want to get off the beaten path alone. We have trails near my house, and I'll only run them alone when I know there are lots of other runners/walkers out there. (early evening after work, and weekend mornings). So...any tips/advice?

    1. Hi Allison. Thanks for reading. Though I don't mention it much in my blog, I am extremely cautious when running alone. I've thought through many scenarios and what reaction I would take. I do travel armed (knife and pepper spray). And I never have the volume on my music so high that I can't hear my surroundings. Most of all, I really do follow my instincts. If something doesn't seem right, I get out of there. When I first started running alone, I was pretty scared. But I found the more aware I am of the possibilities (animal attack, human predators, injuries, etc), the more prepared I am.

  4. That is so cool that you ran into a reader.. I only dream of that with my little blog ;) The people Ive ran into are friends I already knew and no strangers.

    Ive always found your fearlessness to be an inspiration. I dont run trails as much because Im scared of what could happen. Like Allison, I only go to the trails when i know where are a LOT of others out there.

    1. Thanks Khourt. I am far from fearless. I have little rules, like I always leave my route written out for my family. And I usually don't run a new trail for the first time alone. And I am cautious. That's why I wouldn't take a nap in my truck. :)

  5. You're internet famous! So funny running into people in real life that know you from online.

    1. It is a blast Neil. It's kind of awkward too. Things go through my mind like, now they see what I REALLY look like, LOL.

  6. Nice job getting out there! I wish you didn't have to do so many of these runs by yourself. You were afraid of a crazy dude getting you in your car, but what about out on the trail?

    You still inspire me. I need to get out and explore the trails around here!

    1. Thanks Lisa. I am definitely a trail runner at heart. I written before that I am more a trail runner than I am a runner. But alas, it is difficult to get people to run mountains. Hopefully there is a trail group out there that can show you the trails.