TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

R.I.P. Tommy Ryan

Rest in peace, Tommy Ryan.  What a great addition to the heavenly music above.  What a big loss to young musicians down below.  You will not be forgotten.

150498_1808400368412_725624_n

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Marina Run and a WWII Bunker

Monday, day two of my new running streak, I took a leisurely run at the marina.  Well, it wasn’t exactly “leisurely” because when I run flats, I try to pick up the speed.  I’m so accustomed to a slower pace due to the elevation gains I usually run, I must take advantage of the flats, so that I don’t train myself only to run slowly.  Still, my faster pace is rather slow.  Be that as it may, I ran faster than I usually do.  And that was fun.

I took a quick look at the daily fish count.  Look at all those fish, and three fishing boats were docking at the time, so their fish wasn’t even counted yet.  The cafĂ©’s and restaurants were filled with tourists.  And there were smokers all about.  I assumed they were out-of-staters, because in California, smokers usually go back into the deepest darkest recesses to light up. 

Tuesday, day 3 of my new running streak, I went for a run and search.  A running friend told me where to find a WWII bunker off the trails in the coastal hills.  8:00 AM, I set out for a ten mile loop in search of this bunker. 

I began the loop in Newport Beach in the Laguna Wilderness, and ran a rolling truck trail down to the shore.  The weather was pleasantly cool.  For the first three miles, I didn’t even take a sip of the icy fluids strapped to my back.  I don’t even think I turned my hat around for the first three miles.  That’s how cool the weather was.  Lovely.

I had to climb a nasty trail, a steep truck trail, with paved portions.  Paved!   Also, not one single tree (aka. shade) lines the entire trail.  Stopping at the first location I figured to search for the bunker, I found nothing.  A bit disappointed, I thought to myself, “I have to take this trail again!!”  That trail is named B.F.I. appropriately named (Big F’ing Incline).  

Climbing B.F.I.

Still climbing B.F.I.

Before reaching the top however, I finally spotted it.  I noticed the cap first and ran on over to check out the bunker.  The cap was locked so there was no getting inside.  But I was able to crouch down and peer into it from a front opening.  I felt a bit sad exploring this historical remnant.  Mankind went through a terrible time during this period.  I even felt odd taking a picture of myself in front of the bunker.  I felt like I shouldn’t smile.  But I did. 

After my bunker find, I ran up another ridge then closed up this loop for 9.9 miles.  Ended up I drank all 64 fluid ounces of my Nuun dissolved ice water. 

The profile (Route:  No Name Ridge, No Dogs, B.F.I., El Moro Ridge, Missing Link, Fence Line, Bommer Ridge):

Running No Name, No Dogs, BFI, El Moro Ridge, Missing Link, Fence Line Bommer 7-29-2013, Elevation

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Loopish Out-and-Back

I have not been well, and ended my 9 day running streak on Monday.  I would have ended it Sunday if it were not for my oldest son.  He offered to run a mile with me on Monday, so off we went.  I could tell he was frustrated with my pace.  I could barely run.  If it wasn’t for my lovely son, my streak would have ended on day 8.

Today marked a starting over of my streak with day one.  There was a group run going out of Blue Jay for twenty-something miles into Trabuco Canyon.  I wanted some solitude today and decided to run elsewhere alone.  I chose the Candy Store loop, which is more an out-and-back than a loop (but it’s loopish, with loops along the way).  Today though, I decided to run it in the opposite direction.  This way, I would run the uphill first, and hit the downhill for the last ten or so miles.

Same route, different direction: Running Candy Store Run 7-27-2013

The sun had already risen by the time my feet hit dirt.  Solitude I wanted, solitude I got.  I saw this furry creature on my way down the San Juan Loop.  But I didn’t see a single person.

San Juan Loop looked much different to me running it in the opposite direction:

The run out, that is up to Blue Jay, was beautiful, uneventful and difficult.  But it wasn’t as difficult as when I run it for the second half.  The weather was cool, the trails were empty.  I decided at one point to search out the water stash my friends have told me about.  Every time I look for it, I can’t find it.  Today, I looked twice.  The first time, no luck.  On my relook, I found the stash off a beaten path.  Camouflaged well, I lifted the debris to see just how much water there was.  There was lots – not only that, but there was a brown mouse that poked his head out and scrambled down the bottles toward me.  Well, I let out a yelp (I hate mice – sorry I just do), covered the stash back up and high-tailed it out of there. 

I ran a several miles without music.  And I stopped several times to snap pictures I haven’t taken in a long time.

A dry Chiquito Falls:

I ran UP the Viejo Tie for the first time ever.  The ground was soft with leaf litter, and portions were extremely steep.  But it was all doable.  I still had lots of energy.  By the time I reached San Juan Trail, I was ready for Blue Jay.  Two miles of uphill rocky single-track still remained. I took it running and finally ran into Blue Jay with an empty hydration pack. 

Feeling no dread whatsoever for the second half of my run (like I do when I run it reverse), I rushed to a water source and filled my pack to the brim.  Lastly I took out a Larabar for breakfast to enjoy as I ran back down San Juan Trail.

My water source:

I ran through my “two deserts” (mentioned in my last Candy Store Loop post) and found it extremely hot and dry, yet delightful.  The sandy dirt was quite loose to the point where I fell.  I wouldn’t normally call this a fall because I actually slipped.  Slipping and falling are two different actions.  But since I landed on my butt, well, I guess it was a fall.

I continued onward through the shady forests of Chiquito feeling good, feeling strong.  I picked up my speed as I ran down toward the Viejo Tie intersection when suddenly I tripped on a root hidden in the leaf litter.  I flew through the air, like a flying squirrel.  I mean FLEW.  I landed face down in a patch of poison oak on top of a bed of leaf litter about six inches thick.  Talk about a cushy fall.  The first thing that came to mind was, “Get up!  Don’t let the hydration pack leak.”  So, I jumped up, found just a few cuts and scratches on my legs and was on my way. (If you’re a new reader, you won’t know that so far, I’ve been immune to poison oak).

The weather heated up immensely.  Still, by the time I came near the secret water stash, I still had probably a pack 3/4 full.  And that whole mouse thing creeped me out so much that I decided not to stop and refill.

BIG MISTAKE.

I ran the next few miles, up and down, up and down (though mainly down) on HOT, exposed trail.  The sun drained me, but I still drank up, fearful that I would run out soon.  I began to feel nauseated and had to stop and cool off here and there in little sections of shade.  My legs felt weak, like they couldn’t hold me up.  I kept running, because I wanted to get this portion finished as quickly as possible.

And then I ran out of fluids.  With about 2 miles to go, I ran the flats and downhills, hiked the uphills.  When I finally turned a corner into some shade, I came upon two male hikers.  “Don’t go out there,” I said. 

One of the men said, “I know, we were just there.”  His face was red.  The other guy was laying down in the shade.  I ran past them a couple feet and then abruptly stopped.  I HAD TO cool down.  Bending over, I grabbed my knees and was still holding myself up when the two guys took off ahead of me. 

After cooling some, I took off running again.  When I caught up with the two hikers, they were resting in the shade again.  They asked advice on the route back, and I told them to take the San Juan Loop to the right – it’s the shadiest. 

I passed the hikers.  Soon enough, they were up gaining on me.  I could no longer run.  That’s when one of the guys yelled out, “Miss, did you know your arm is bleeding?”

Sure enough a stream of dried blood streaked down my arm.  The hikers didn’t seem too sure when I assured them that my arm was alright.

The hikers and I continued like this for about a mile – stopping and resting, then taking off as long as we could.  The hiker about my age would just plop down in the shade and lay there.  I usually took off first because I HAD TO GET TO MY TRUCK FOR WATER. 

Eventually, I could only hold myself up when hiking or running.  Standing still I had a problem.  When I stopped in shade to cool off, I had to grasp a tree branch so that I wouldn’t fall.  I felt that I could not lay down for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get up.  For the first time in a long time, I worried about my well-being.  The only thing that stopped me from calling for help was the fact that I was only about a mile from the parking lot.  I decided to wait it out and see how I progressed before calling aid.  I paid close attention to my body and worked and worked at cooling it down.  At one point I oddly took off my hat.  Thankfully, I still had my wits about me to put it back on.  My breathing was rapid.  And I was hot, OH SO HOT.  But I still could think logically. 

We were was SO, SO CLOSE to the parking lot when the two hikers plopped down in the shade again.  Some hikers on the boulders above noticed us and waved.  That’s when I felt safe leaving the hikers behind and making the march back to the truck.

That march was miserable.  I stopped quite frequently, in fact, in every bit of shade.  Eventually, I had to sit in the shade.  Then my saving grace arrived.  On several occasions, it seemed like just as I sat, a strong cool breeze came along to cool me off.  That breeze gave me just enough strength to walk another twenty feet or so.  I certainly suffered from heat exhaustion.  The breezes cooled me of enough that I worried less over the possibility of heat stroke. 

I couldn’t believe that I let a little mouse stop me from getting more water some miles back.  That will NOT happen again.  I hiked those last 100 yards painstakingly slow.  Then finally!  I caught a glimpse of the parking lot curb.  I had made it.  I had my pack off before I even reached my truck.  My key in the door, I grabbed out a jug of water ASAP.  Then I turned on the truck and put the air conditioning on full blast.  Feeling too weak to drive immediately, I took swigs of the water.  I poured some over my head too.  When the salt dripped down into my eyes, I used some of that precious water to wash my face too. 

Well, I love an adventure, that’s for sure.  But dang it!  How many times do I have to learn the same lesson?  Refill at EVERY chance, even if I don’t think I need it.  This is my promise on day one of my running streak.

Elevation Profile (The route, San Juan Loop, Chiquito, Viejo Tie, San Juan Trail, Blue Jay Campground, San Juan Trail, Old San Juan Trail, San Juan Trail, Chiquito, San Juan Loop). 

Running Candy Store Run 7-27-2013, Elevation

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It’s Back!

I got my freedom back!  Now I can run anywhere I want to.  My husband fixed my garmin!  Yes, he FIXED it.  He’s talented at repairing gadgets, toys, furniture, appliances, you name it.  He doesn’t think he is, BUT I know he’s a fixer.  When something breaks, I never fret too much because hubby can probably fix it.  (He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s going to fix my dead computer).

All I said was this:  “Honey Smile Will you open it up and look?  If you destroy the garmin, it won’t matter because it’s already dead.”

And thus began the process of getting my Garmin Forerunner 305 back.

He pried it apart with a sharp wood chisel and immediately saw the problem.  On the screen side of the case just under the Forerunner name are 8 contact “fingers” that press against the battery side contacts when the case is closed.  One of those copper “fingers” was broken. 

This is what he did:

1. Cleaned the area around the contact where the “finger” was.

2. Took a small piece of phone wire from inside an old wall jack.  He stripped both ends 1/8”

3. He flattened the wire and wrapped it around a nail, giving the wire a coil so it had the ability to fit into the open corner of the case when closed. 

4. After slipping the wire off the nail, hubby soldered one end of the contact where the finger was.

5. Then he soldered the other end to the corresponding contact on the battery side of the case.  That way, the two parts of the case were like an open clam shall, connected by the wire.

6.  Then he closed up the case, careful to avoid pinching the wire. 

7.  At last, he pushed the power button.  AND IT WORKED!!  AND IT HAS CONTINUED TO WORK.

8.  The last step was to glue it back together.  He tried silicon and strapped bands around the garmin until it dried.  But it came apart easily after that.  So he used super glue, and it held.

2013-07-20_22.03.44

There!  Did that make sense? Winking smile  I could have never done it.  But my talented husband was able to bring back one of the most important objects in my life, the garmin. 

To keep my streak alive, I strapped on the garmin and went for a short run around the neighborhood.  I turned a corner whenever I felt like it, knowing my garmin would measure the distance.  I completed my 8th day of streaking with a 1.7 mile run.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Great Struggle

On the 7th day of my streak I drove up Ortega Highway, the main road into our local mountains for one of my favorite runs – The Candy Store “Loop.”  It’s a twenty mile route, and though I referred to it as a loop, it’s mostly out-and-back, with just two loops in between.  Basically, it’s 10 miles uphill, 10 miles downhill.

I easily found a profile from my historical stats (see below, since my garmin is broken).   I begin this run in Blue Jay Campground and run back down to the highway, across the street from “The Candy Store.”  Sure there’s some uphills on the way out, and a tiny bit of downhills on the way back.  But it feels like 100% pure uphill for those last ten miles

candy store loop

First things first, I stashed some water off Ortega Highway, at the turnaround point.  I wondered (fleetingly) whether I could pull off today’s run after a relatively tough eleven miles yesterday.  I didn’t dwell too much on my doubt.  That’s how I am.  I just do it, whether I think I can or not. 

The skies were gray, the weather cool and humid.  The ground was rocky, but I can do it now – run that rocky San Juan Trail.  I took the whole trail to Viejo Tie without tripping.  AND, I saw my first tarantula of the year.  This one was a lovely black velvety creature.  I’ve only ever seen brown tarantulas.  As a young girl, I once allowed a ranger in Joshua Tree to put one of these spiders on my arm.  I was the only Girl Scout to volunteer.  The other girls screeched as the tarantula crawled up and down my arm. 

I don’t think I would have let this one crawl along my arm today.  But I was eager to get in close for a good picture:

I felt a bit anxious running without a garmin today.  I should have at least worn a watch.  I had no idea how I was doing for time.  But I felt okay running along San Juan Trail.  From there, I hopped onto the Viejo Tie, a wonderful up and down, single track.  I came upon two trail running acquaintances on the Tie, as they took my route, but in the opposite direction.

Going out – view from San Juan Trail: 

I hit Chiquito Trail in seemingly decent time.  I took Chiquito up until I hit the San Juan Loop.  I felt good, strong in fact on the entire trip out.  I got a bit of rain.  I handled the technical trail with stable feet.  I took San Juan Loop for the climb up into the parking lot.  The climb was tough.  But it was NOTHING compared to what awaited me. 

The Viejo Tie:

Chiquito Trail:

Feeling good on Chiquito:

I could not, and I mean COULD NOT face up to the run back.  It has always been a struggle for me.  I can do it.  But the upcoming struggle produced much unwanted anxiety today.  As I took out my breakfast bar, which I ate on the run, I came up with my plan.  I couldn’t think about what I had to run.  I needed to CONQUER THE GROUND.  That is, continue to get trail behind me.  This mantra, “Conquer the ground,” took away my anxiety as I ran San Juan Loop back to Chiquito. 

San Juan Loop:

I ran much of the uphill, though slowly.  Several times I needed to hike.  I pushed myself off from giant boulders.  I grabbed at branches for support.  I knew as long as I could see the highway, I still had a heck of a long way to run to my next point, Chiquito Falls (which are dry).  Every time I thought that I couldn’t see the highway any longer, I would look behind me or to my left, and sure enough, there was the tiny road, way down there.  It was killing me!!  Finally, I decided I must not look for the road. 

Somewhere on my way to Chiquito Falls, I abruptly stopped.  I don’t recall why.  I just stopped.  A second later, I heard the rattling, and at that moment saw the snake coiling up in the middle of the trail several feet ahead.  I stepped forward for a closer picture.  The snake slithered toward me!  Stepping back, I took my picture further from the poisonous snake.  Then I waited until it calmed down and slithered away.  He rattled during his entire exit.  Well, that added some excitement to my run.  It actually helped take away some of the misery of this great struggle back to my truck.

The Rattler:

FINALLY, I made Chiquito Falls.  “Conquer the ground” wasn’t working for me anymore.  With a few more miles, a few more long miles, I told myself, all you have to do is “Do the time.”  A song by rapper T.I. came to mind where he sings, “Do the time, don’t let the time do you.”  He’s talking about prison time.  But on my run, that line seemed much more apropos to the few miles left on Chiquito.  I had to take the trail, not let it beat me up.  Just “do the time,” and it would eventually be over. 

Some of the boulders that litter Chiquito:

Just do the time.  Just do the time.  “Do the time, don’t let the time do you.”  After about a mile, I made the mistake and began looking forward.  I looked forward to the next point, the Viejo Tie / Chiquito intersection.  I knew I needed to cross over the dry creek bed twice, before I was even anywhere close to the tie.  Even then, it seemed unbearably long to meet up with the Tie.  I hiked often.  I breathed in a gnat through my nose.  Then when I took a deep breath through my mouth, I swallowed one of those dang gnats.  It wasn’t pretty.  No, indeed.  I was no lady.

I continued on with flies buzzing about my ear with a wanting, an unbearable longing for the Viejo Tie.   Finally, through the thick green forest, I saw it – the post!  The post!!!  I flew on past the Viejo Tie/Chiquito post, then hiked the uphill to the next flat.

“Two more deserts, just two more deserts and I reach San Juan Trail.”  Still looking forward (it was just too difficult not to – I was tired, I was hot), I had a lot of uphill before my next destination.  In between me and that spot are two stretches of trail that remind me of the desert.  They are dry.  They are brown.  And they are hot. 

The first desert felt miserably long.  I must have been delirious when I began to wonder if perhaps I had already traveled through the first desert without realizing it.  No such luck. 

Desert #2:

FINALLY, out of the desert, ready to run San Juan Trail back to my truck:

I began to see hikers making their way about on San Juan Trail.  I tripped semi-frequently on the rocks.  And I met a friendly group of teens who told me my pack was unzipped.  As a young girl zipped it up for me, one of the males asked, “Where did you run to?” When I told him “The Candy Store,”  he shook his head.  “The Candy Store???  That’s about ten miles from here!!!” 

To this I groaned, “I know.”  I got a good chuckle out of the teenagers.  My heart did not lighten when they shouted, “You’re almost done!!!”  Though it was great to meet a group of smiling faces.

I COULD NOT stop looking forward.  Just do the time.  Just do the time.  Don’t let the time do you.  But I did let the time do me.  The time chewed me up and spit me out.  I finally made it back to my truck, chaffed, and dirty.  My eyes stung terribly from a dribble of constant sweaty salt.  The best part was, I was finished.  The great struggle was over.  I had done my time.  I did the deed.  The last step was my prize (not to mention the adventure along the way).  And I was glad.  So very, very glad.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Familiar Ground

My husband fixed my camera.  He could not fix my garmin Sad smile.  I’ve heard runners comment that they feel free when they run without their garmins.  This is not the case with me.  In fact, without my garmin, I feel like my freedom had been taken away.  I couldn’t run any route I wanted. No garmin, no stats.  Therefore, I had to run a route that I had data for.  Why?  Because I am a stats person.  I love my stats.  They are part of who I am.

This morning, I hit some familiar ground and ran a loop that I have run many times.  It goes up Aliso Canyon and hits Mentally Sensitive via Meadows Trail.  The route is a tranquil one, that is until I hit the climb on Mentally sensitive.  Then WHAM.  Today, as usual, the climb in parts was such that it’s difficult to stand upright.  Sooooo fun!

The nice n’ easy part of Mentally Sensitive:

The miserable, yet lovely climb on Mentally Sensitive:

My loop continued on along the ridge where I came to my half-way point at Top of the World.  I stopped for a moment to snap a picture, because I take one or two pictures EVERY SINGLE TIME I reach Top of the World. 

From there, the trails ran pretty much downhill.  I took the ridge (West Ridge) to Mathis.  Mathis is a truck trail, not technical at all, and completely exposed.  Fortunately, I had some cloud cover today.  Still, the weather was a bit humid. 

I crossed Wood Creek on Mathis into Wood Canyon where I ran Wood Canyon Trail back to Aliso Canyon and closed up the loop.  I finished much stronger than I have lately.  And I must say, it was nice not to have a clunky garmin strapped to my wrist.  But I still have my stats:  Miles 10.9, with an elevation gain of 2,297 feet.

Thus concludes day 6 of my streak.

Top of the World:

Creek Crossing on Mathis:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day Four and Five

Day 4 of my streak:  I ran 6.5 hilly miles in the coastal hills.  I ran them in the afternoon.  It was hot.  But I felt a great deal of gladness in my heart.

IMG_6457IMG_6459

Day 5 of my streak:  My camera didn’t work.  My garmin is apparently broken.  I ran 2.25 street miles down to the harbor and back.  The wind blew strong against me.  The weather was cool.  But I didn’t feel so much gladness in my heart.  The thing about running . . . I know it will return.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Keeping the Streak Alive?

Talk about a busy day.  Woke at 5:30AM, did laundry, washed dishes (by hand), did some ab work on the living room floor.  Boy!  That tired me out.  Then I wrote out the list of “To Do’s” for my sons.  I do this every morning.  (Yes, I write out a list of things the boys must do before they play video games – cleaning chores, reading, practicing music, exercising, petting our dog, etc).  Off to work by 8:30, I rushed to put $20 of gasoline in the tank.  That’s not much fuel – not much at all.  But at least I didn’t run out of gas today.

Work was hectic, as usual, as the nature of my job is always “urgent mode.”  My students have deadlines, hard deadlines to finish credits in order to receive diplomas from their high schools.  Almost NONE of my students are in light-hearted moods.  And the countless phone calls that I make are never to give parents good news.  But there are wonderful times (like THREE times today) when a lost sheep comes back into the fold.
 
On the way home from work, I stopped by the market for groceries.  At the house, I was back busily doing laundry.  Why such the rush?  Because today was beach day.  I pretty much promised (though I rarely promise, because I know they are too hard to keep) some hours at the beach this afternoon with my guys.
 
I walked a mile (round trip) to the beach with my family in the late afternoon.  The roads were ridiculously crowded with speeding cars, which made me quite nervous for my boys’ safety.  The best part of the beach was watching the family have fun in the surf.  The second best part was laying back in the sand and having it form to the shape of my body.  I thought to myself, beneath the hot sun, that sand would be the best mattress!

On on uphill walk home, hubby mentioned dinner out at a local diner.  That of course meant only one thing.  I HAD TO get in my minimum 1 mile run as soon as I arrived home.  Well, when I arrived home, the weather was still pretty warm even though the time read 5:00 PM.  Still, I changed my shirt, laced up some running shoes, strapped on my garmin, filled a handheld with water (I was soooo thirsty from the beach) and headed out my front door.

 

And then I did it.  I put in my more than a mile run (1.05 miles) to keep up my 3 day streak.  It was hot, and a bit muggy, but the run was easy-peasy.  I’m glad I fit it in to keep up The Streak,.  Then I went out for a lovely dinner (though hectic and stressful it was – remember, we have 3 boys!) with the family.