If I had remembered our recent big rains, I would have jumped out of bed this morning to head for the mountains. Instead, I woke groggy, sorely tempted to call off today’s run, or at the very least, postpone it to later in the day. As it was, two of my boys are spending the night away. I wanted to be back from my run before they left. And so, I set off preparing for my mountain run at 5:00 AM. (It wasn’t 5 minutes later that I felt fully awake).
I’ll cut to the most important aspects of today’s run along my 14 mile loop. First off, the wind strongly blew in and out of the canyon in long, cool bursts. The sound of it rustling through the trees was delightful and moved me onward nearly effortlessly. Also, the water roared along Trabuco Creek, which was brim full (well, not actually brim, but a heck of a lot fuller than bone-dry, like it’s been for so long). It was all very fair-tale like. I didn’t really begin to “feel” the run until I got out of this forest and headed up the giant switchback named Holy Jim.
The five mile trip up Holy Jim was peaceful. It was cool. And the time flew by after a fellow adventurer caught up with me from behind. (Mark, whom I have met before – once on The Main Divide on my way to Santiago Peak, and the first time many years ago, in my house at my oldest son’s five-year-old birthday party). Today, I marched up much of Holy Jim exchanging fun (often hilarious) wilderness stories with Mark. It’s amazing to me how the major themes among endurance runners/hikers are so similar among us (injury stories, getting lost, encounters – so much fun to learn).
We continued on at the same pace on the Main Divide. Just before reaching Santiago Peak, Mark took off ahead to close up the same loop that I was running – Holy Jim/West Horsthief. I didn’t see him again after that. But I did see his footprints. That’s something I notice nowadays – footprints – mine and others. (More than once I’ve needed to rely on footprints to find my way back).
Running alone down West Horsethief, I came upon two or three groups of hikers struggling up that wretched climb. I also fell not once, BUT THREE TIMES during the rockiest portions. Each fall was more like a slow motion slip. Each time, I landed on my rear. And each time, I fell at the exact moment where I grew timid and slowed on the rocks. The best way to traverse down tricky hills is with tiny steps and loosely. Loosely is the key for me – I must run West Horsethief carefree, with focus, but without fear. Actually, this plan will work best for any trail.
Today’s route: Holy Jim/The Main Divide/West Horsethief, Trabuco. 14.06 miles. Weekly goal of 45 miles: Achieved!