TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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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. 

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