TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

click on any picture in a post for a larger view

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

It has been a rough year.  Not a terrible year, just a rough year, especially emotionally, especially with regards to trails.  Seems almost apropos that I should end 2015 with a broken arm, and compliments of the trail for that matter. 

I am not back to running yet, but I did make it out to the trails the last day of 2015.  I took the splint cast off, yet wrapped my arm because I wanted a little more freedom of movement. I fear that was probably a mistake.  My arm is terribly sore tonight.  Actually both arms are sore, but that’s for a topic in 2016 after my follow-up with the orthopedic surgeon. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFor now, I am so happy to get out this New Year’s Eve.  My route:  a short one, about 6.25 miles into Wood Canyon (in Aliso Viejo), up Cholla Trail to West Ridge, and West Ridge all the way to Top of the World in Laguna Beach.  It was a wonderful hike, and I worked on speeding up my hike speeds on the hills, which will hopefully help me out some come Calico.

Happy New Year! 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In Spite of i

Monday morning, I slept free from my dream attacker.  Much relief.  But that is not to say that I slept easy.  Not exactly. I chuckle now thinking about it.  I dreamt (it seemed for hours and hours) that I was simplyfing radicals with a pencil on a yellow pad of paper – negative radicals using the imaginary number called i (or the square root of negative one).  Whoa!  Nightmare, not.  In fact, I woke with a full liking, acceptance and appreciation of the number that in my mind does not really exist.  (Now, not so much so, as I’m left with that same awkwardness I always had with the concept).

Crazy dream?  Perhaps.  But I just thought I’d put that out there since I’ve blogged recently concerning my nightmares.  ANYWAY, after this mathematical extravaganza of a night, I lackadaisically got myself out the door for a quick drive to some local trails off of Las Ramblas in Dana Point.  The weather was super cold compared to what I’m used to, probably somewhere near 40 degrees farenheit.  My goal:  hike to the flag.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESPlenty of other hikers had the same goal in mind.  Though when I reached the flag, only two others were present.  Dozens of fresh cut flowers lay at the post base.  And in an upright mailbox was a red composition book that I signed on one of the last pages.  Before heading back I took in the cities below – San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, and delighted in looking for the places that I know well.  It always amazes me to see how the cities are laid out from above.  Landmarks aren’t right where I suspect they are in relation to other places, roads go into areas that I didn’t know existed (kinda like i).  And the number of trails intertwining below that I never see from the flatlands is mind boggling.  The ocean seems endless.  Catalina is like a mountain range floating upon it. Thousands upon thousands of cars rush by on Interstate 5.  It’s marvelous up there.  It really is . . .  in spite of the fact that there is no real solution to the square root of negative one.  Smile

Looking down on San Juan Capistrano with The Saddleback Mountains in the distance:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Overlooking Dana Point with the Pacific Ocean in the distance:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

12 28 15

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Back on the Trail

For days after falling on Trabuco Trail, I had trouble falling to sleep. My mind kept returning to the moment of impact.  It seemed that just as I dozed off to sleep, I’d trip and fly into the floor, which jolted me awake.  I have not been having a great time.  Frazzled is a good word to describe my condition. 

And then we had our Christmas celebrations (Christmas Eve services, a family get-together on Christmas day), and everything came to a close.  Though I was happy to have spent an entire day with much of my family (my own children and husband, plus my parents, my sister and her family, and two of my brothers and famlies), I did not rest easy last night.  I had nightmares it seemed all night long – same theme, I was being attacked.  It was the same person that I could not see from my dream the morning of my trail accident.  I never saw him in my nightmares last night (or rather early this morning) as he always attacked in dark places, and then eventually, he started attacking me in my dreams.  Yes in my dreams, like Freddie Krueger did in those horror fliks.  Needless to say, I got little sleep, as every time I fell back to sleep it seemed that he was there to grab me. I woke the entire house with a loud scream and eventually decided I just didn’t want to risk falling back asleep again.  At 3:30 AM I surfed the internet until I couldn’t stay awake any longer.  And then I slept like a rock until 8:00AM. 

With such a big day yesterday, being Christmas Day, everyone was still sound asleep when I snuck out the door at 9:30 AM and headed for Ridge Park in Newport Beach.  The weather was cold, and the wind was fierce. I had to grip the steering wheel to avoid being pushed all over the tollroad.

When I arrived to Ridge Park, I realized that I had forgotten my jacket, and by the looks of all the runners and bikers bundled up in their jackets, beanies and gloves, I was gonna need more warmth.  Thank goodness my oldest son left his jacket in the backseat.  I was able to layer up.  (Note to self: don’t be such a hard-ass about the boys getting their things out of my truck!)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI hiked 10.56 miles with gorgeous ocean views.  My casted arm gave me little trouble, even without pain medication.  And actually, I was totally fine hiking this whole loop, as opposed to running.  Because, if there’s any chance of me doing Calico (and those chances are slim, slim, slim), I had better not re-injure the arm.  I even tripped once while hiking this loop, so I’m gonna hold off running for at least another week. (My next doctor’s appointment isn’t until January 4). 

Anyway, the park was super crowded with people, mainly hikers, some runners, some cyclists and some equestrians.  I think it’s good for now to go where people can be found.  I only found discomfort during the last three miles, and that was because I took off the jacket.  Since I had decided not to wear my sling (though I packed it), the jacket had provided much rest for my arm by putting my hand into the pocket. 

I felt good at the end of the hike, and probably could have pushed myself a lot harder. I was not even fatigued when it was over.  I think what’s most important though, was that I just got out there and moved. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

12 26 15

Route: Bommer Ridge, El Moro Ridge, BFI, No-Dogs, No-Name, Bommer Ridge.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Run that Broke my Arm

Friday morning, about 3AM, I fell ill.  I don’t know if it was food poisoning or a stomach bug, but with body aches (though no fever) I vomited throughout the day.  At the time, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I was not well for a full twenty-four hours.  Saturday, I recuperated, sleeping off and on throughout the day.  Sunday, I awoke abruptly at 5AM. I had been dreaming that I was running down several flights of stairs. I mean I was flying, moving faster than I could imagine I would. Flight after flight, my feet never tangling, my step never pausing.  And then finally, I hit the ground floor.  I jumped down onto the road, and ran up a small incline toward an underground parking lot where I was parked, when WHAM.  I was hit so hard by an attacker that I fell in an instant.  With no warning whatsoever I was incapacitated, unable to see, unable to even move or fight back. I remember thinking to myself, “oh my God, it is happening to me.”  That’s when I woke, suddenly and abruptly.  I sat about in my pajamas and drank two cups of coffee before finally packing up my gear and heading out the door to drive to Trabuco Canyon for a long run (which I planned to increase two miles from 12 to 14).

I found two pleasant surprises upon my arrival.  First, a small portion of the bumpy off-road had been paved and much of the remaining road graded, which cut several minutes off that drive, perhaps as much as fifteen.  Second, I came up on two beautiful wild turkeys, a female and a male all puffed up and gobbling, gobbling.  There was another Toyota truck in the parking lot besides mine, with hikers standing outside of it prepping for a hike to the peak.  The female turkey, though smaller than her bo, but pretty enormous nonetheless, jumped up onto that truck and landed on the hood with a loud clang.  We all got a good chuckle out of that (and I for one was glad it wasn’t my truck).

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI saw two hunters coming down Holy Jim Trail as I headed up. A fast walking hiker passed me at about mile 2.5.  Two or three mountain bikers passed me here and there, but overall the infamous Holy Jim Trail was quiet.  The creeks were flowing good, something I have not seen in a long time in that canyon, or anywhere in our local mountains for that matter.  The weather was cold, but I warmed up by about mile three, enough to take off the gloves, beanie and jacket. I took my time going up that five mile switchback, but that’s not to say the trek was not strenuous.

I felt good reaching The Main Divide.  It was shady and cold tucked in there at Bear Springs.  Chatting briefly with two other hikers, I took off on The Main Divide at a comfortable trot, looking forward to the glorious views of The Orange County on one side, and San Bernardino and Riverside counties on the other.  I caught views of Lake Matthews, and then later, Lake Elisnore.  I chatted with a man in a truck who was headed off to Santiago Peak, but saw no other people on The Main Divide.  There were frozen puddles of ice that I delighted in cracking with my feet.  Countless branches were down from the last storm.  And my foot felt good, despite the miles thus far.  

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAt mile ten, I turned off of The Main Divide and headed down the extremely steep and rocky switch-back called W. Horsethief.  I gingerly made my way down W. Horsethief, careful, so careful not to trip on the fist-sized rocks.  I felt relieved to reach the bottom, knowing that I only had about 2.5 miles remaining -- all of it downhill and fairly runnable.  I picked up my pace.  I was so close to the truck now.  As far as I was concerned, my run was finished. I tripped twice when I picked up my pace some.  I thought I was going down for sure at one point, and that gave me a good scare.

And then.  BAM.  I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t feel my foot trip. I only felt the impact -- my body slamming, face first into the rocks.  There was no give, no roll on my part. It did not happen in slow motion.  I did not have time to realize that I was falling.  It was over before it happened.  It was like being blindsided.  Just BAM:  Body slammed against the rocks.  The impact was so forceful and violent, I really didn’t know what was damaged.  I was in a head-on collision with the rocks.  It was all bad.  Pain was everywhere, as I immediately coiled up there on the ground.  I felt panic, like my breaths could not take in the pain in time. It seemed like I rocked back and forth for a bit.  I know I was sprawled out the entire length of the trail.  I vividly remember that. And I recall realizing that no one was around, nor was going to be around to help.  I was alone, and I had to handle this myself.  Myself.

It seemed like I lay there on the rocks for many, many minutes.  But when looking at my garmin data, it appears that only six minutes passed from the moment I stopped moving up until the moment I began moving again.  First thing, I reached into my pocket grabbed my phone, which flew out of my hands and landed beside me.  I checked for service.  There was none.  Somehow, after six minutes, I stood back up and began moving forward.  I felt nauseated.  My legs ached, my arms ached.  I didn’t check for blood.  I didn’t check for anything (I didn’t even check to see if I hit my head, which looking back, I can say that fortunately I did not)..  My main goal was to move forward.  In the back of my mind I thought that I needed to get myself to the doctor.  Something wasn’t right in my left arm, it felt weird, it felt wrong, deep within.  My right arm hurt too.  But it wasn’t the same.  It didn’t have that inner-wobbly pain that my left arm seemed to have.

I had about two miles to traverse to get to my truck.  I stopped sobbing pretty quickly.  But I’m sure I moaned some the remainder of the trip.  I merely practiced the same technique I have always used on the trails -- that is, one foot in front of the other.  I stepped over fallen branches, and I kept my left arm bent and draped over my abdomen.  That was the only way I could bare the pain.  I tried to run for short distances, but the jarring to my body, especially to my left arm, was just too painful.

It was a dang long two miles. But even more terrible was getting the pack off of my back so that I could sit in the seat of my truck.  The turkeys were still in the Holy Jim lot, gobbling loudly.  There was no one around to help me get the pack off my back.  But I was able to get service enough to text my husband to tell him that I was hurt and ask for the address for the nearest urgent care facility.  We were only intermittently able to communicate.  The one-handed drive out of the canyon was hell, with my truck bouncing all over the road.  

Out of the canyon, I was able to talk with my husband, and I decided to go ahead and drive home.  I wanted to see if I could make it through the night, then maybe see the doctor on Monday.  It didn’t work out that way.  I was home for about a total of five minutes when my husband brought me to the ER in Laguna Beach.  Turns out, I did break my arm, not a bad break, but bad enough to cause quite a bit of pain.  I have a radial head fracture (my elbow), and my arm is in a splint cast.  Am I bummed?  Quite.  But, it is what it is, and there’s nothing I can do about it right now.  I have lots of thoughts concerning my Calico training, and my overall disappointment.  But it's Christmas Eve, so I am going to try and turn my thoughts toward that celebration, stay in the moment, and enjoy all the good things that I do have.

Merry Christmas!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

12 20 15 a

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Two Bucks



Sunday, I got out for my long run, currently at 12 miles. I didn't get in a long run last week, so I felt a little concerned whether I'd be able to do this. I didn't think that I wouldn't actually be able to traverse the 12 miles. I can probably cover 120 miles if needed, but I may need to crawl most of them. I guess that was my worry, that I'd have to crawl most of them, and I would not be home for hours upon hours (and there are dishes to wash and toilets to clean!)


I decided on what I used to call “The Big Loop” at Aliso/Wood Wilderness Park.  It’s not actually the biggest loop one can derive, but just about the biggest loop.  I started off at the ranger station pretty late in the morning -- around 11 o’ clock.  The weather was cool enough though, that I even hit the dirt wearing a jacket.  But, I had the jacket off and tied around my waist in about fifteen minutes. The long sleeved shirt that I wore however, did not prove to be too warm for this 12 mile loop. 

I ran up Aliso Creek Trail and turned into Wood Canyon and ran that all the way to the end, where I took Cholla Trail up to the ridge (West Ridge).  I ran West Ridge to Top of the World and then across the Laguna Beach neighborhoods to re-enter the park near Meadows Trail.  From there, I ran down Meadows Trail back into Wood Canyon.  But just before I got to the canyon, about a tenth of a mile away I came upon a field with four deer -- two bucks and two doe. I tried to tread quietly by, as I did not want to disturb the scene for the two bystanders taking it all in. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw dirt spraying up from the grown. That's when I noticed that the two bucks had locked antlers and were fiercely grinding towards each other. They seemed to slam about recklessly, moving slightly in my direction. Awestruck myself, I didn't think to take out my camera quick enough. Instead, I grew concerned that the two bucks would stumble closer and one of the two would charge me. 

And before I knew it, the fight was over. The larger buck commenced to eat grass from the ground, while the smaller one, stood by grazing too but jerked away when the other buck as much as raised his head from his eating position. It seemed clear to me which one had one the right to mate the doe.

In all, I handled the 12 miles better than I expected. I was not completely wiped out, didn't even nap when I arrived home. But, as the following days have been extremely busy, I have not been able to get in any runs. I suspect I may not handle the next run as well.

Finishing up West Ridge here
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean @ The Top of the World

Approaching the top of Meadows Trail with a view of The Saddleback Mountains


12.08 miles

1,183' elevation gained

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dumping the Data

I have been holding onto the data deep within my garmin in hopes of eventually uploading all those numbers to GarminConnect.  Along with all that data, I have dozens of pieces of paper with cross training workouts scribbled on them to add to my spreadsheets.  For months, I’ve been hanging onto this data to finally update 2015 numbers. 

BUT then, but then! I opened up my worksheet with years and years worth of data, back to 2006, to find all of 2015’s data missing (I had meticulously recorded numbers through June this year).  MISSING.  I checked my backup and was able to retrieve a tiny bit of 2015 data, but not enough to reconstruct the year. 

And so, I did it.  I cut the cord from myself and 2015’s numbers.  I’ve absolutely had it with hanging onto old numbers in hopes of updating 2015.  I must face the fact that I cannot locate the missing numbers, and I cannot fix my garmin (which contains August through November numbers).  In cutting the cord, I threw away all those pieces of paper with numbers scribbled all over them, and then I cut the big cord by resetting my garmin to its factory settings.  Yup.  I deleted all that unrecorded data.

Whew.  So, 2015 will be the year without numbers.  And that’s okay.  Because now, I have a garmin that works.  I used my newly reset garmin for Saturday’s run.  I ran down to the beaches for a cool winter run.  I went for one of my usual runs, to where the sidewalk ends, to discover that the tides had crumbled the sidewalk away.  Gone are my numbers.  And gone is the sidewalk.  Winking smile

Buckled sidewalk at Capo Beach 
Capo Beach parking lot filled with sand and debris

Where the sidewalk used to end
Crossing the estuary, heading back through Doheny
 Back at home, I was able to successfully upload my garmin for Saturday’s run.   And that’s a great thing! 6 miles. Smile

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Spooked

One of my favorite places to wander is in Silverado Canyon, off a road named Maple Springs.  But Maple Springs Road, and the trails accessible by this road, namely The Silverado Motorway has been closed for well over a year now due to a fire.  It was supposed to re-open this past September.  But when I phoned the ranger station at the end of that month, I was told that it was still closed and probably would not open until spring.  I’ve been hearing though from other fellow wanderers, that the parking lot is open, that you can park and still hike the trails. Friday, I set out to see for myself. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe lot was indeed open.  Two other cars were parked in addition to mine.  But signs indicated that the trails were closed.  And I did not see evidence of another living soul about.  That’s what made Maple Springs Road so spooky on this cold and windy morning.  The road was unkempt with thick dirt covering the passes where the stream usually flows.  There were no footprints.  No evidence of recent visitors.  Broken branches were strewn about giving the appearance that no one had walked this road for years. I felt like I was running along the road of a ghost town.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNot surprisingly, the entrance to The Motorway (AKA The Silverado Motorway and The Silverado Trail) was marked closed as well.  Now, I’m not saying that I actually traversed this trail on Friday, in fact, at this point I obeyed the law and promptly returned to my truck.  But if I had continued onward it probably would have went something like this:

I could see immediate evidence of the burn area, with burnt foliage and darkened tree trunks.  But there was a lot of new growth as well.  I scoured the ground for human footprints, but only occasionally came upon a faint print.  And that worried me.  In the cold silence, I wondered whether the mountain lions had grown accustomed to having this part of the mountain void of humans, and if I was somehow going to interrupt that.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI didn’t wear my earphones, but instead kept my ears focused on the sounds around me.  I didn’t want any surprises.  About a half mile in, the trail was pretty much washed out, with rock and mountain debris covering the entire passage.  So engrossed in the debris, fascinated by its abundance and multi-colored, multi-leveled layout, I missed the bend in the trail, following the debris instead.  Doh!

I should have turned to the left at the tree in the background here:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

When the “trail” finally became impassible, I turned back, figuring I’d just find some other place to run, perhaps an out-and-back on Maple Springs Road.  I passed a satellite video camera implanted in the hillside (twice). I didn’t exactly smile at the camera, but I looked right into it, wondering if the camera was tracking humans or mountain lions.  I felt relieved to be leaving. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIt was on my return that I noticed my wrong turn and decided to head up The Motorway nonetheless.  But I was already spooked, oddly nervous.  I haven’t been afraid on the trails in years.  It was so dang eerie out there – windy and cold and not a single other person around.  The scene was beautiful though. I could see for miles, out to the ocean, and tiny skyscrapers in the far distance.  I nearly jumped off the mountain when my phone chirped because I had a text message.  And then shortly after that, something jumped out onto the trail probably about twenty yards ahead of me.  Understandably startled, I noticed first the tan color of the animal’s fur, and for a split second, thought mountain lion! That is until I noticed the animal’s white tail.  It was a deer, a large deer, and there were two of them.  They stopped and looked at me, then hopped, literally hopped like bunny rabbits up the trail further then off the trail to continue onward along the steep mountainside.  Occasionally, the two stopped and looked back at me.  I half expected a mountain lion to appear on the scene and take down one of the beauties. Not long after that, I decided to turn back.  I ran back toward my truck, happier with each step, anxious to feel safe again.

I drove about Silverado Canyon after that, exploring a side road called Ladd Canyon.  When I arrived home, I promptly lay on the couch and fell asleep, so warn out I was from this short, but worthwhile adventure.

Miles: 4.13

Elevation gained: 1,175’

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Friday, December 4, 2015

Trashed

Thursday morning, I ran a usual loop at Aliso / Wood Canyons that’s not so usual anymore.  The run totaled 9.39 miles with 1,186’ of elevation gain.  The weather was cool, brisk actually.  I felt strong at the beginning.  But I was trashed when I finished.  Trashed.

Course:  Aliso Canyon, Wood Canyon, Meadows, Top of the World, West Ridge, Mathis, Wood Canyon, Aliso Canyon

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Outwardly Vision

I’m working more hours at the moment, which means some minor lifestyle changes to fit in runs this week.  Otherwise, I will never get to 20 technical miles by the end of January.  And as it's going right now, those chances are looking a little slim.  I’m not exactly up shit-creek.  But I will be if I don’t continue to plug along.  Those lifestyle changes include getting enough rest so that after I drop the boys off to school, I need to run before heading off to work. 

Monday morning was my first go at this.  After dropping the last boy off at school, I drove down to the marina and ran about 4.25 miles.  I felt like a toad, but amazingly, my speed was up a tad (which I need to thank the dreadmill for -- Thank you dreadmill!).  It’s not a pretty sight, these short runs on pavement, in fact, it’s rather excruciating for me with all the people mingling about, no dirt trails and lots of glass to catch a reflection of myself.  Miles go by much slower on pavement than they do on dirt (even though I take trails much slower due to the extensive climbs).  I was not a happy camper -- thus, I did what I could not to zone-in, but instead to zone in on the outwardly.  And the outwardly from my viewpoint down at the harbor was a pleasant sight.

I think this yacht probably has more square feet than my house. Winking smile

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Headlands:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Tuesday, I didn’t have enough time between drop offs and getting to work.  And I arrived home from work around 9:15 PM, and I don’t run roads under darkness.  So, no run for me.  But today, Wednesday, I headed back down to the harbor again before work.  This time, instead of running in and about the marina, I headed south and took in the beaches.  The first several minutes, probably ten or so, were only slightly less than miserable.  But I kept my outwardly vision, and enjoyed much of my four miles this morning.

The Jetty:IMG_0689IMG_0687IMG_0692