When I woke at 4:30 Sunday morning, I looked forward to climbing West Horsethief like I would look forward to a bullet in the head. Seriously. I did not want to go. I hate West Horsethief. Hate it. This is precisely why I force myself up it. Because I hate it. It was the thought of seeing my two trail running friends that I haven’t run with in years, that I got me out the door. Without them, I wouldn’t have gone out this morning, at least not to Horsethief.
We got an early start, hitting the dirt up Trabuco Trail at 6:30 AM. The 2.5 mile uphill climb was minimal compared to what awaited us at Horsethief. Later we would see that first two mile portion as the “flat” part.
I didn’t know how I was going to do it, climb the mountain that is. But I knew that I could do it, albeit slowly, simply by putting one foot in front of the other. Hank ploughed up ahead on Horsethief, occasionally waiting in the small bits of shade for Kelly and I. Horseflies took miniature chunks out of my arms and legs. Gnats swarmed into my eyes. You quickly recognize bug landings on these runs. If a bug lands on you for more than three seconds, get it off. Because it’s going to bite. So, I swatted at my legs and arms to get the flesh eaters off. The gnats, well, I just let them swarm, swallowing a few, breathing in a few.
When we met Hank on this massive climb, he’d be there handing us cold chunks of deliciously sweet watermelon. And though the climb seemed never-ending, and I felt near miserable, taking on Horsethief was much more bearable with friends. This was Kelly’s first time, and she took it smiling the whole time!
(Photo credit for picture above: Hank / Hank’s Life on the Move)
After that hellish climb, we took on the majestic rolling hills of The Main Divide. The views were immense with crystal clear shots of Lake Elisnore and Lake Matthews. Far off, we could see that the coastal towns had lots of cloud cover. We had very little. The weather was HOT. Very hot.
For the last five mile leg of this 14+ mile run, we ran down Holy Jim. We said hello to a few gnats again. And speaking for myself, I couldn’t wait to get back to the cool comfort of my truck, were it was parked in the lush shade with ice cold drinks and an air-conditioner waiting to be turned on. The heat running down Holy Jim was nearly unbearable. It felt as if someone was holding torches at my calves. The only way to get through it was to keep on going. And going . . . and going. I took up the rear (of course) and felt so overwhelmed with heat, I took down my energy level a notch so that I would not boil over. Still, the beauty was immense, and I had the lovely company of friends.