I got out the door this morning much later than I had planned. The sun was already fully up, runners were running up and down the city streets. This was going to be a problem. It’s summertime now – and heat is building. I REALLY need to get out there under darkness if I want to do long runs in the mountains
Okay, it is what it is. So, I decided to cut my run about five miles short. This way, I’d arrive back home about the same time I originally planned. I think what’s most important to me is not what time I leave, but what time I arrive home.
I drove to Modjeska Canyon not at all in a hurry. I even stopped at the tiny community park in the canyon to use the outhouse. There were some bags of stuff like vhs videos and paperback books free for the taking at the entrance gate. One book stood out to me – My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir. I grabbed it as I hopped back into my truck and headed off for Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary. (It wasn’t until later at the Laundromat when I began reading this book, that it felt that someone left it specifically for me!)
It was after 7AM when I began that wonderful-terrible climb up Harding Truck Trail. I felt sluggish, but didn’t let that get me down. I mean, how could I with a view like this:
Catalina Island looked like a mountain range. Sometimes I can’t even see the island. Today, cloud cover was gone. Today, views were immense – the San Gabriel Mountains behind me, the Pacific Ocean in front of me. I had to stop and stand at the edge of the trail and revel in the vastness before me. I felt at one with the land during that moment, as if time didn’t move, when suddenly the loud rattling awakened me. Wow. Talk about ferocious. I don’t know why anyone’s afraid of whether or not they’d hear a rattler. Their rattling is so unbelievably loud, there’s no missing it. It doesn’t sound like an insect or anything else except the loud, fierce rattling of a poisonous snake. I immediately turned off the music on my ipod, focused in on the noise, and moved away from it. I didn’t even bother to locate the snake. I’ve seen enough rattlesnakes, and I had some time to make up on today’s run. So, instead, I trotted away (UPHILL some more) on my way to Four Corners (where Harding Truck Trail meets The Main Divide).
It was a struggle, a great struggle running up that gigantic switch-back. I’m not talking about a mental struggle. Mentally, I was there. I knew eventually I’d make it. And just because my abilities sucked this morning, didn’t mean that I’d flat-out fail come The Harding Hustle in two weeks.
Several hikers made their way down Harding Truck Trail as I made my way up. A few runners came down too, which is utterly unusual in my experience on this trail. I rarely see runners on Harding Truck Trail. Several cyclists raced down Harding as well. Then with about three miles remaining to “Four Corners,” I passed the last hiker I’d see. He was hiking down. We both did a little wave, and just as I passed him, I realized that I knew this man. I stopped in my tracks, looked back at him and said, “You look familiar.” I thought that he was probably one of my students, someone recent, or a student that had been in my class more than once – he looked that familiar. I’m not sure if he recognized me immediately of it if just donned on him, but he said, “I’m your neighbor.”
Doh! My neighbor! My next-door neighbor. Can you imagine? I don’t know my neighbor! My husband does. But, I’m rarely out front. And in my defense (a little anyway), he has only been our neighbor for a short while. I can’t even tell you how long, but less than a year (I think). We chatted a bit for the first time today on Harding Truck Trail, and I found out that he was doing the same 19 miles as I. I had to laugh that we have this huge common interest, live right next door to each other, and for the first time really, spoke on this mountain. Howdy neighbor.
After our quick chat, I stopped at this scenic view to phone my hubby and tell him who I met on the trail:
Well, I finally made it to “Four Corners,” in just about the worst time I’ve ever ran it. I sat for a bit and re-packed my hydration pack (had empties to tie on), and then I took off for that long, hot, exposed nine plus miles down. I came upon several hikers making their way up in the extreme heat. Thank goodness for a slight breeze. I tried to power run it down, and hoped that I’d catch my neighbor. No such luck. I was lucky to maintain a 13 minute mile, so sluggish and worn out was I. I tripped really hard once, slightly several times. And I ran out of water with a little over a mile remaining.
Last time I made this run (last week), I came in thirty minutes quicker than usual. Today, I came in forty-five minutes slower than usual. I’ll take it. 18.76 miles on trails is pretty much great any way I look at it.