TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

But it’s Flat

Well, August has not been a total bust, but near so!  My excuse:  the heat.  Yes, this summer has not been nearly has hot as the previous three summers.  Still, I have not enjoyed running in the heat this year.  Not one bit.  Though my miles are much under goal, my cross-training is not terrible (the gym is air-conditioned).  Despite the heat, I did manage to get out on Arroyo Trabuco trail yesterday, at ten o’clock in the morning. Smile with tongue out  As I headed out the door, my hubby responded that I was choosing the hottest trail, to which I responded, “But it’s flat.”  To the trail runner, Arroyo Trabuco is flat.  To me it is flat.  When I was a road runner running mostly flat streets however, I would have never considered Arroyo Trabuco “flat.”  Here is an elevation profile of yesterday’s “flat” run:

8 29 14

This out-and-back, which begins on Antonio Parkway with access down to Tijeras Creek trail, travels Arroyo Trabuco for six miles, ending at the trailhead in O’Neill Park.   This trip is clearly suburban trail running, with plenty of homes overlooking the trail, giant overpasses to run beneath, and occasional views of trucks and cars from the roads above.  Much of the trail however, is covered with thick vegetation, blocking suburbia from view.  It really feels like I’m out in remote wilderness much of the time (aside from the automobile noise). 

I divide this 12 mile run into three legs (three times two, as it is an out-and-back).  There’s the “lowlands” (shady and lush), the “highlands” (hot and exposed) and then “lowlands” again (both hot/exposed and shady/lush).  My favorite portion is the first “lowlands.”  It is the coolest.

The “lowlands” #1:  Begins on Tijeras Creek Trail which crosses a small creek and runs up into Arroyo Trabuco:

What I call “The Jungle,” because my friend Tom Fangrow called it that:

I do not really look forward to leg#2, the “highlands.”  On a winter day however, it would be just fine (much cooler!). 

Entering “the highlands” on this “flat” trail: 

Some history on this portion:

Trying to figure out how to strike a pose:

I felt great relief reaching “lowlands” #2.  Views of The Saddleback Mountains came into view and shade lay in places ahead.  To top it off, water fountains and restrooms awaited me in the neatly manicured O’Neill park. 

Entering leg #3, the second “lowlands”:

Turnaround point in O’Neill Park, time to turn around and run back, but not before watering down:

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