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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Happy Places

Booked solid with work, some of which I hope to elaborate on in a later post, I am barely able to fit in trails (or anything else for that matter).  This of course is most unfortunate being that Twin Peaks Ultra is just around the corner.  I am so far behind in my training that I am not even shaking in my boots.  I’d be shaking in my boots if I had a chance at finishing the fifty mile course.  As it stands (and will continue to stand), I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell at finishing.  (Still, I will line up at the start line). 

Until then, I will continue to live when I can in my happy places.  Thursday, I was finally able to run out to the coastal hills.  I dropped by some low-lying caves along Cave Rock Trail, and sat in them to enjoy life from their perspective. 

Then I ran over to the “big” cave, Dripping Cave, also known as “Robber’s Cave,” for much needed coolness in the air, as the heat had returned on Thursday.   

And since I was so close to Car Wreck Trail, I ran on over to the wreck, which has apparently slipped even further down the slope.  Miles totaled 7.13.  The best thing I witnessed was a crawdad sliding backwards down a small waterfall along Wood Creek.  Looked like so much fun. 

I didn’t make it back out to the trails until today, Saturday.  Today, I worked the Holy Jim Aid Station for The Saddleback Trail Marathon.  Most fortunate because I got to hang with a great group, and see lots of friends.  I also got to hear the awesomely loud cracking sound of giant trees falling to the ground.  Several Holy Jim firemen were chopping down dead trees along Trabuco Trail.  To top today off, I also got 5.4 miles of trails run today while I marked the course.  Worst thing:  a bee stung my upper arm. Best thing:  the weather was cool, very cool! 

Did I mark this junction enough?  Winking smile  No one, and I mean no one was going to take W. Horsethief by accident on my watch.

Monday, September 22, 2014


This past week has been so hectic, with work and other projects (more later on the “other projects”), that I opted to cross train three days in the gym.  Finally, on the last day of the week (or first day for some), I made it out to the trails in the coastal hills above Laguna Beach.  I ran fifteen miles, and I tried to kick up my heels a bit.  But I was so dang fatigued.  Still, I tried, and that has to amount to something, if not a tiny bit of improvement. 

The best thing about Sunday’s run, besides the fact that my feet were finally pounding dirt, was that the heat had finally broken.  Yes!  There was a cool(ish) breeze blowing my way, and all I could think was, “Thank God!”  I have really let this summer’s heat take its toll on me.  I needed it to end.  And on Sunday it did.  At least for now.  Autumn, my friends, has stepped through the door.  And with autumn, I spotted my first cluster of crawdads.  I don’t know if they suddenly come out in autumn, or if I just happen to notice them in autumn (because I’m not dying from heat otherwise). 

Crawdads playing in the autumn waters Smile

Wood Canyon:

Greetings from Top of the World:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Summer Be Gone

All week I had been daydreaming about running in Silverado Canyon.  Since I had received a transfer on my Spartan Beast race (more on that later), I looked forward to making a trip out to Silverado Canyon for a jaunt up Maple Springs on Saturday.  Friday a fire erupted in Silverado Canyon.  It burned partially up Maple Springs and I’m pretty sure all the way up Silverado Motorway.  Sad smile

Saturday the fire continued to burn.  And it was so dang hot (news reports said 103F in the local mountains) that I decided on air-conditioned cross training in the gym. 

Sunday, I read that the Silverado fire was contained, and being that I didn’t want to waste another weekend day, I headed off for the mountains.  Not Silverado Canyon, but several canyons away to Trabuco Canyon.  Pulling into the parking lot late, 8AM, I noticed only one car parked in the Holy Jim lot.  And I thought, “Oh crap.  There’s only one other person crazy enough to go out in the hellish heat – and that person was at least smart enough to arrive earlier.”

I nonetheless trotted off happily, with visions of making Santiago Peak.  I hoped that I could lookout and ascertain fire damages from afar.  The canyon was eerily lonely.  It seemed that no one even stirred in the cabins.  About a mile later, I came upon this note from The Holy Jim Fire Department taped up at the trailhead:

Then I crossed the bone-dry creek pictured below.  I could have ran right down through the dry creek bed.  But I chose to run the wood plank instead. 

Within about a quarter mile, I ran off trail to the “ladies room,” and found the remnants of some semi-recent gold mining.  I’m not sure if it’s legal to mine in National Forests.  If it is, one rule should be that the area is put back the way that it was found.  In addition to the bits of trash, a pair of underwear and a shirt strewn about, there were two dug out holes – one in the ground, the other in the mountain wall.  The hose was also left behind, which probably syphoned water from the creek (that used to flow). 

So, I continued onward, up through the forest.  Gnats swarmed my face.  They fought to get into my ears, into my eyes.  I coughed up more than one gnat when I remembered to keep my mouth shut!  The only solace that I felt running through those buggers was knowing that when the giant switchback began, I would lose them (but gain the burning sun). 

And gain the burning sun I did.  I didn’t fret; I hardly fret anymore because  I know how to cool my body temperature.  For those of you who get caught out there in the heat, here’s what you MUST  do:

1)  Hydrating is not enough.  You must cool down.

2)  Get in the shade (or expose yourself to a breeze if you can)

3)  Stop moving, preferably sit, if you are feeling really bad.

4)  Wet your clothing

5)  Rest. 

6)  Do the above OFTEN, and every time you feel lightheaded, nauseated, or strange in any way (like seeing colored spots, tiny flies, etc). 

In addition to the above, I didn’t push myself.  How, might you ask, is running up a mountain, not pushing yourself?  Well, I took it lackadaisically, just one foot in front of the other.  On the way up, I passed my spring in the mountain wall at about mile three.  It’s just an occasional drip now.  But I did notice that there were two small containers beneath the drip, both filled to the brim with the mountain water. 

The shade came back strongly at about mile 4.5.  And the gnats swarmed in worse than before.  I struggled out of Holy Jim, as the dirt was so dry and loose that I slid back with each step. 

Safe from Holy Jim, I was once again fooled by the shade and The Main Divide’s beauty.  Forget the fact that gnats swarmed my face – I took that bend in the road willingly, and headed upward toward Santiago Peak. 

I struggled immensely traveling the next 1.5 miles up The Main Divide.  I no longer ran, or even trotted.  Painstakingly, I put one foot in front of the other.  And I rested in the shade.  This was my view the last time I rested – here I sat in the shade for 18 minutes, poured water over my shirt, and took in my surroundings, feeling, seeing, hearing and smelling all of it.  I experienced NOW– and it was wonderful.  I really didn’t need the peak anymore.  I had received what I sought -- tranquility, as I sat there on The Main Divide.  I looked up and snapped this picture before traveling another half mile up the rocky road: 

This is where I turned around and headed down Upper Holy Jim back toward The Main Divide closer to Holy Jim (lower):

Upper Holy Jim was treacherous and hellish with heat.  The ground slid away beneath my feet with each step.  I couldn’t help regret my choice.  It was the “short cut” that added at least a half hour to this “run.” 

I came off Upper Holy Jim in a slide and ran The Main Divide back to Holy Jim dreaming about those two containers of water in my mountain spring.  As I stood at the top of Holy Jim, the earth slid beneath me and I fell onto my bottom.  Then it was onward for 5 more miles of hellish heat.  (105F, I read later). 

I COULD NOT WAIT UNTIL I REACHED THE SPRING.  I needed to cool down my inner temperature.  Badly.  With little shade ahead, drenching my clothing was my best prospect. 

I arrived to the spring exasperated. I felt even more exasperation when I noticed the empty container in the wall spring.  And then my heart filled with joy when I saw that the other container was still full.  Someone had come along and used only one container.  Only one!  And they left the other for someone else – a stranger . . . me!  Well, I ripped off my pack to make sure that I had enough electrolyte water to make the next three miles.  Confident I had enough, I took that water and poured it over my head, down my back and chest.  It felt ice cold.  ICE. COLD.  And for a short while there, I felt cold running down the mountain.  Glorious. 


Summer.  I am done.  Now be gone. Winking smile

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Explore Mode

I am so flippin’ bored of running in the coastal hills that when I pulled up to Aliso / Wood Canyon Wilderness this morning, I wanted to choke myself.  Choke myself!  Seriously.  I did not want to run those trails AGAIN.  I contemplated getting out of my truck and plopping down in the grass alongside the road and just laying there, staring up at the blue sky.  I didn’t want to stay, but I also didn’t dare drive back home, else I implode in self-condemnation. 

The other day I witnessed a woman carrying a big stick as she ran into Wood Canyon.  I remembered then fondly the days I used to be afraid of running these trails alone.  Today, I could barely stomach going out on the same trails that I have run again and again and again.  Yet, somehow I managed to strap on my vest and cross the street and enter Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness Park.

I piddle-paddled in and about the native plant garden off of Aliso Creek Trail.  I admired the cacti and pretty coastal flowers.  I sat at one of the many loveseats and snapped a photo, and I took in an antique harvester used on this enormous ranch so many years ago.   

And then I came up on a staircase and make-shift bridge across the creek.  I took the pathway over to Aliso Creek Trail East, a trail that I have not much explored due to the fact that it’s not on the park map, and it didn’t seem to lead anywhere interesting, nor attach to any other trails. 

And I ran, but not hurriedly, and not caring one single bit about pace.  I stopped when I wanted, explored little paths, and noticed my usual trails from afar.  I ran up on a beehive farm that I discovered a couple years ago.  I approached cautiously and saw several swarms of bees hovering about the drawers.  Then I was off again, determined to run this trail to its end.  Maybe, I hoped, it would lead out of the canyon to the other side in Laguna Beach. 

From there I went into explore mode – my old way of trail running before I knew practically every coastal trail in my parts by heart.  And though this trail wasn’t anything to write home about, it was still beautiful, I worked up a decent sweat and best of all got some exploring.  This trail eventually dead-ended deep in the canyon at a water treatment plant.  I could find no clear way around it.  But, on my return, I got in some good old-fashioned bushwhacking in search for a way back across the creek.  I never found a passage way, but I found handfuls of clamshells, lots of dead-end single tracks and awesome solitude. 

Today’s total run lasted 7.5 miles, approximately five miles shorter than I originally set out for.  But heck, I’m happier with this lower mileage because I got to see new things.  And I love new things, and I love to bushwhack, and I love to explore. 

Coming out of some bushwhacking, I stood in awe at the beauty of this scene.  The picture doesn’t really do it justice, one reason is because you can’t hear the wind rustling through the leaves. 

Autumn PLEASE Move Your Arse


Dear Autumn:

Could you please, please, please move a little quicker and get here. 


LaurenOnTheRun Winking smile

Out-and-back to Top of the World in Laguna Beach in dang hot weather.  6.67 miles run, 1,168’ elevation gained.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Some Thoughts . . .

Some thoughts that went through my mind as I ran Friday's 10.3 mile loop beneath the hot summer sun:

  1. All I have to do is make it up Mentally Sensitive, and then it's almost over (6.5 miles to go!)
  2. The whole loop is only ten miles, that's really just two five miles, and half of five miles is only 2.5 miles. I can run 2.5 miles!!
  3. Ahhh look at those lovely (poisonous flowers).
  4. It’s perfectly fine to HIKE Mentally Sensitive.
  5. Buck Up!
  6. Are those my tracks?
  7. Deer tracks!
  8. Deer scat!  Why always berries in deer scat?
  9. Poor dead beautiful blue lizard.
  10. Buck Up!
  11. An hour has already passed?
  12. Can. Not. Wait. Until. I. Reach. The. Top.
  13. Love, love, love the view. Smile
  14. Don’t look at the top.  Do. Not. Look.
  15. One step in front of the other.
  16. Buck Up!
  17. Lovely, lovely shade.
  18. Just one more hill and it’s all down hill from there. 
  19. Just 3 more miles.
  20. Just 2.5 more miles.
  21. Just 2.25 more miles
  22. Just 2.0 more miles.
  23. Just 1.75 more miles
  24. Just 1.50 more miles
  25. Just 1.25 more miles
  26. Just 1.0 more miles
  27. Just .75 more miles
  28. Just .50 more miles
  29. Just .25 more miles
  30. Awesome.  That wasn’t so bad now, wasn’t it?  I think I’m better for it!

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