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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Return To The Scene Of Defeat

Well, it’s been 3 weeks since my defeat.  I’ve been taking it easy, sulking, catching up on errands, trying to get back my run groove.  I’ve resorted to trickery to get my feet moving (see last post).  This morning, I relied on my hubby to kick my behind if he found me sleeping on the couch AGAIN when he awoke. (The pattern has been, wake early to run, hit the snooze, walk out to the living room, fall asleep on the couch.) 

It sure took me a long time to get out the door this morning.  I wasn’t looking forward to returning to the scene of defeat – Trabuco Canyon.  I just had to FORCE it.  So, I got in my truck and drove mindlessly toward the Saddleback Mountains.   

If you live in Southern California you probably know that Trabuco Canyon is the same canyon that the two teenaged hikers were recently lost for 4 days.  The media spread “my” canyon all over the airwaves, naming trails, etc., for four days.  Thankfully, the two kids were safely found.  I suspect they learned lots of lessons.  Many that I have learned myself, but have been fortunate enough not to cause a 4 day “man hunt,” utilizing hundreds of volunteers, several helicopters, medics, etc. 

Anyway, I finally arrived to the Holy Jim lot around 8 AM.  Two runners and several cyclists stood around talking about the lost hikers.  They had their theories, mine was similar (I’ll leave out my theory as to what happened, unless I hear later that it’s the case).   

Taking off towards the Holy Jim Trailhead:

Though my calves felt tight at first, I found Holy Jim delightful.  It was not the same beast that kicked my butt during Old Goat.  This Holy Jim was cool, scenic and gave me strength.  I ran with plenty of calories stashed in my pockets and plenty of fluids to drink until I arrived at the secret stash several miles away. 

I ran up that switchback with four other ladies who had not run Holy Jim before.  So, when the lady behind me tried to catch me, I had the advantage being that I know how to pace myself on this trail.  In the end I passed the front runner of the group, only because she turned her ankle.  I stopped briefly to talk with her, then whizzed my way up to Bear Springs. 

Hallelujah!  Me and Holy Jim are friends again.

Holy Jim:

While the four ladies headed off toward Santiago Peak, I took the Main Divide for an up and down, up and down run toward West Horsethief.  The sun came out strong, yet I was lucky to have an occasional cool breeze.  I felt very fortunate to have these gifts today – I can still run mountain trails, I know my way around these mountains, and I enjoy the “harsh” beauty. 

Several jeeps drove past me as I ran the Main Divide.  I even came upon two more female runners.  I began to remember that I love trail running. Smile

From the Main Divide:

What a delight to make the top of West Horsethief.  I stopped for a quick photo op, then happily, joyfully made my way down that steep, rocky switchback.  I slid a few times, tripped once, and even fell back lightly once.  The trail seemed longer than I remembered. But then again, it always does.  And I thought, as I always do, that it must be more difficult running down Horsethief than running up it.  Toward the bottom, I came upon two hikers.  I rarely come upon anyone on Horsethief.  These two were sitting in the shade probably saying, “What the heck were we thinking?”

Top of West Horsethief:

West Horsethief:

I finished this 14+ mile loop at a packed Holy Jim parking lot.  A line of cars backed-up on Trabuco Canyon Road trying to get in the lot  Not a place remained to park.  Drivers were eager to catch my eye to ask if I was leaving.  I only put  in a quick stretch before giving up my space.  The drive out was a little odd, no not a little. It was very odd.  Every available space to park along the canyon road was crowded with cars.  Countless hikers made their way in, and at some points were the road was tight, a literal line of cars waited to make their way through.  I have never seen Trabuco Canyon so crowded.  I found this a little annoying – were these visitors there to see the sight of a near tragedy (the lost teenagers) or were they genuinely interested in this beautiful place that the media referred to again and again as rugged, harsh and dangerous?  

I suspect the crowds will die down.  If not, there are plenty of canyons where I can access Saddleback Mountains. 

The main thing is:  Today I returned to the scene of defeat.  AND I remembered that I love trail running. Smile  This is not to say that I totally have my groove back.  But it’s a start.  A dang good start.

Running Holy Jim - W. Horsethief loop 4-13-2013, Elevation


  1. Of course you still love running.. no matter how much you curse it ;)

    And its great to hear of so many people on the trails.

    1. Yes, I do love running! Thanks for reading. The number of people on the trails have dwindled. Once school lets out though, it will pick up. :)

  2. I always enjoy your posts, especially your pictures. But today, my favorite part was at the end: "I remembered that I love trail running." Awesome!

    1. Thanks for reading Lumberjack. I always enjoy your comments.