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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Summer Just Wasn’t My Season (The Inevitable Look Back on 2013)

I planned to run to Santiago Peak and end the year with a triumphant run. Not feeling well when I woke, I slept in some. Then I decided that 2013 really wasn’t a year to end with a triumphant run. A run in Aliso/Wood Canyons was more apropos. It was time to get back to where it all began, well, not actually began, but when it all came together with me and trails. Somewhere along the trails this year, I lost something on the run. I lost my drive. I lost my strength. I lost my confidence.  (And I couldn’t help but think, “I’m too old for this self-doubt and self-loathing!”)

2013 began with plantar fasciitis. This aspect alone didn’t wipe me out. There were lots of personal struggles. I gained a good amount of pounds (make that a “bad” amount of pounds).   And I tried so desperately to use the trails to bring me back. But my heart just wasn’t there. It was somewhere else attempting to get myself right again with the world, right again with myself. Then Old Goat happened. Being pulled at mile 41 in a 50 mile race put quite a stomp into my stride.

clip_image002And then summer arrived. Summer. It just wasn’t my season. The heat nearly did me in more than once. The season ended with my head hung low, a severe limp in my right side, a major loss in work hours and no advancement in my personal strides.

In 2013, I sprained my ankle running a road marathon. In 2013, Twin Peaks was cancelled due to the government shut-down. In 2013, I lost my patience too many times. And in 2013, I said good-bye to two friends, one was silver, the other gold. (Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.)

Good-bye Phil Olaskey (We met in 1977):clip_image004

Good-bye Tommy Ryan (We met 6 years ago)clip_image006

So, 2013 was a struggle! Heck, when isn’t life a struggle? I survived it.  In fact, I learned much.  I learned that much of what I learn on the trails applies to my life overall.  I realized that this is indeed why I was given the gift of trails.  So that I can learn.  So that I can appreciate.  And there was much to appreciate this year.  In 2013, my son went another year without a seizure. In 2013, we managed to keep the house yet another year.  No one became seriously ill and all of my family is still intact. I read great books in 2013.  I met wonderful students. In 2013, I also met new good friends. And I re-united with old friends.


And so, on this last day of 2013, I took to the trails in Aliso/Wood Canyons, the place that I found my own way on the trails.  The place where I learned to tell direction and read the peaks and ridges – the place where I lost my fear of wilderness.

On this last day of 2013, I took off down Aliso Creek Trail with no pain in my foot.  None.  The park was crowded, and I mean crowded with hikers.  That is until I took a left from Wood Canyon onto Meadows Trail.  I saw one mountain biker.  Then I headed onward to the steepest trail in the park, my greatest challenge in Aliso/Wood Canyons – Mentally Sensitive Trail. 

About a mile in, I met father and son mountain bikers.  The father was laid-out on the trail, his son looked as if he had been crying.  I could see his father was conscious as the son moved the bikes and their gear off the trail.  I stopped to check on the boy’s dad.  He assured me his father was okay.  I told the boy that I could not leave them there.  The father still on his back with his arms over his face said a few words about being “okay.”  But he still lay in the middle of the trail.  I wasn’t even sure he could move.  Turns out the man had flown over his handlebars, and that worried me greatly.  The boy said that I could go, that they had water and a phone.  As I gave him the ranger station’s phone number we both noticed another mountain biker barreling down the steep trail.  Both the boy and I began hollering and waving our arms, “Stop!  Stop!”  That biker came around the bend with a screech, stopping just as the injured man scooted himself off the trail. 

I was so relieved to see the injured guy could move.  I also noted the absence of blood.  As the other mountain biker and I discussed what we should do, the boy said that he had his mother on the phone.  Eventually, both I and the other mountain biker took off when the injured biker was sitting upright.  As soon as I turned the bend I phoned the ranger station.  You can imagine my aggravation when no one answered! 

Before I reached the top of Mentally Sensitive, another biker went over his handlebars.  I approached as he used the bike to lift himself from the dirt.  He didn’t look good.  No blood.  But his face was ashen.  I asked if he was okay, if I could do anything for him, did he need me to phone someone.  He said he was okay, but had probably damaged his ribs.  After a small conversation, I convinced him not to take Mentally Sensitive down.  I suggested he take Meadows which is less steep and much easier to manage.  After what I told him about the remainder of Mentally Sensitive he was convinced and went on his way as I ran onward into Moulton Meadows Park. 

Mentally Sensitive:

I ran onward to Top of the World and took in the same view I have relished countless times.  I ran the remainder of this last run of the year with hardly any pain, just knowing there were lots of life’s lessons from today’s run to sort out over the next couple days.  I suppose I should close before the new year actually gets here.

Happy New Year!  Thanks for reading and all your support.  I so much appreciate it!  And also, for enduring this long, long post.  Winking smile

Miles logged:  10.78


  1. Dang! Good thing you were there! Good luck with your runs in 2014! Stay strong :)

  2. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed with the first cyclist and his son. And I never asked either of them whether Pops hit his head! Thanks for reading Patty. My aim is to stay strong -- the same to you too!