TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Right Where I Want to Be

Being that I’m only running coastal hills when I run alone nowadays, on my one day this past weekend where I got to run, I headed off to Newport Coast to catch some trails. Not wanting to spend $13 in tolls, I drove Coast Highway through Laguna Beach and into Newport Coast, and then not wanting to pay $15 to park, I drove up Newport Coast to Ridge Park. This of course meant that I once again started my run at the top, which in turn meant for a hell of a climb out.

My route: From Laguna Wilderness -- Bommer Ridge, Emerald Canyon, Old Emerald Falls (or possibly Emerald Falls, I can’t remember which is which), then an unmarked trail to Moro Ridge in Crystal Cove Park, East Cut Away, Moro Canyon down to the crowded winter seashore. From there I took the ever so creatively named trail No-Dogs, to an even more cleverly named trail called No-Name for the final climb out. Whew. I was beat. But I was not broken.

The best part of it all . . . well, there were two best parts. First, as I ran down into Emerald Canyon, I ran beneath a red hawk as it soared high above, dipping here and there with the breeze. She was magnificent. And secondly, taking the unmarked trail was a thrill. It took me straight up the canyon side right onto Moro Ridge where I wanted to be. Actually, I was right where I wanted to be the entire time.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

From the Top Once More

Monday was a day off for me and my boys as well (President’s Day, where we observe George Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays). I celebrated by sleeping in. I believe that I made it all the way until 8AM. Wait. Now I remember, I actually set my alarm for 6AM (because that’s what I do), and I hit the snooze three or four times until I finally stopped it all together. Then after hearing my middle son wake and go out to the “man cave” I rolled out of bed around 8AM.

The weather was still rather warm on Monday. so, perhaps it was not the best idea to wait until 1PM before heading out for a run. Oddly, I chose once again to drive up Pacific Coast Highway to Laguna Beach to catch a trail along the ridge for another loop starting at the top -- except this time, I went against the gradual climb out, picking instead a steep, short nasty climb out at the end

I parked at a little known park called Moulton Meadows which sits high above the Pacific Ocean and Aliso Canyon. And I began my long gradual down hill run along Top of the World and West Ridge (which was more likely rolling down hills, meaning there were some up hills). I think I cursed the heat. Beeping heat! I really loved our cold weather. It’s too early to start feeling the heat.

Anyway, I ran Cholla Trail down into Wood Canyon and cheerfully greeted the shady groves that line the first mile and a half or so of this canyon. I was reallySAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES digging this long gradual down hill stuff. But boy did I pay for it. From Wood Canyon, I took Meadows Trail on over to Mentally Sensitive, which I once re-named Psycho Path, and for good reason. I struggled immensely climbing this bastard of a trail. There really is no relief, and as you can see from the elevation chart below, the climb is steep as hell. Thankfully, it was short. But oh my lord. My pace was probably somewhere around a 40 mile minute. I may not take run that loop again for a while.

Jeez.

2 15 16aRunning down Cholla Trail into Wood Canyon:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESStarting up Mentally Sensitive (Psycho Path!):SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES1,271’ gained, 10.3 miles:2 15 16

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Starting at the Top

Generally, I prefer trail routes that get the uphill over with toward the beginning of the run. I despise having to climb out to get home. But I also hate making the same old drive over and over again. I think I hate that more than climbing out at the end. So, this past Saturday, I decided to drive along the coast and drive to Alta Laguna Park, which is near the Top of the World neighborhood in Laguna Beach. Most often I begin my coastal hill running in the Canyons, Wood or Aliso Canyon, so it’s down hill back to the truck.

Starting off with 180 degree ocean views, Saturday I began my run on a down hill – a quick down hill, totaling just around two miles (down West Ridge and then down Mathis into Wood Canyon). From then on, it was uphill, a gradual uphill, which is why I chose this route. I thought that climbing out wouldn’t be so bad if the climb was gradual. And, so for the next FIVE miles I ran uphill, on an unusually warm weekend in February. It was tough. But, I hear that I am tough, so I guess it was okay.

Winking smile

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Route: Top of the World, West Ridge, Mathis Trail, Wood Canyon, Cholla Trail, West Ridge to Top of the World

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Trail Run

Sunday’s Route: Wood Canyon, Meadows Trail, Top of the World, West Ridge, Cholla Trail, Wood Canyon. 9.78 miles (15.74 km) , 1,163’ (354.48 m) elevation gained.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDespite my wacky schedule, I was able to end the week with a long(ish) Sunday run in Aliso/Wood Wilderness Park.  My feet didn’t hit dirt until about 2PM. And that was okay. I took the canyon trail first, full of shade, so I wasn’t bothered by the heat. I did run up on one rattlesnake though. But I was too slow with the camera to catch a picture before he slithered off into the brush.

Though it was warm (we’ve seen temperatures in the 80’s lately!), I did get some nice cool breezes. And even with the heat, it’ still not the same as the summer heat. Somehow, it felt like winter heat, and that was soothing and wonderful.

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By the time I reached Meadows Trail, which is pretty much up, up, up (switchback thankfully), the temperature had cooled tremendously. I was able to march up that incline considerably faster than usual of late, as there were some hikers I wanted to pass. And I did. Smile 

Reaching the top of Meadows was a great relief, as aside from the minor uphills along the way, it’s pretty much down hill from there. By the time I made it to Alta Laguna Park to re-enter the wilderness park, the temperature was ideal – coolish-warm, which is more on the cool side, but warm enough to not need a jacket.  I packed lightly for this run, but didn’t even need all the water that I did carry along. I so love packing lightly on the fluids. One of the wonderful things about running in the winter!

Anyway, I finished off not terribly strong, but not terribly beaten either. Made it home before dark. I was delighted, so much so, to not experience any plantar fasciitis pain.

Meadows Trail:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLooking back while climbing Meadows Trail:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESTop of Meadows Trail, facing Saddleback Mountains:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Top of the World:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWest Ridge:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Santiago Truck Trail

I hit the road Saturday before dark in the first time in a long time. I much prefer sleeping in nowadays, to at least 6:00 AM (7:00 AM is even better). But on this day, I was out of bed by 5:30 AM. While driving out, I noticed that one of our neighbors a couple of blocks away still had Christmas lights lit. Other than that, the drive to Santiago Canyon was uneventful.

Ever since my trail accident, I have been nervous about running alone in the mountains. I prefer the coastal hills right now when I run solo. I have cell service there, plenty of people and easy emergency access. I’m wondering if I have been crazy rarely feeling any fear going off into the wilderness on my own all these years. With the recent death of an Oregon Trail/ultra-runner, I can’t help think that perhaps I should run with people more often. Fortunately, I know a wonderful lady named Sheila who likes trails too, and we met up together in Modjeska Canyon, where she followed me into Santiago Canyon for a parking space off the side of the road  She’s much more in shape than I am, and getting ready for the LA marathon, but she’s also good company and not seemingly annoyed by me lagging behind. 

It was a beautiful morning, not very cold at all, especially compared to recent mornings. And we had the trails all to ourselves for quite some time. We took Santiago Truck Trail out to the vulture crags, where a U.S. flags flies across the way, then headed back. The views were immense with clear views of the ocean and Catalina Island from there.

On the return trip, we came across several mountain bikers. And I even saw another trail running friend, Janine, whom I have not seen since Chimera, where she volunteered to work the Start Line aid. In all I put in 7.39 miles with 1,305’ of elevation gain.

Running Santiago Truck Trail with Sheila was the best of both worlds. I got companionship, and I got alone time. And I got home before 10AM. Winking smile

Taking the high trail above Santiago Truck Trail:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Vulture Crags:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES2 6 162 6 16a

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Better For It

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI’m working such crazy hours nowadays (a split shift actually, ending around 9PM on most days), that I am getting most of my workouts in the gym.  I don’t hate it. But of course, I’d rather be out in the wilderness. Thankfully, I got in a trail run this past Friday, a good long run totalling 11.19 miles in Aliso/ Wood Cyn Wilderness. It nearly knocked me on my butt (not that I nearly fell, but rather that it wiped me out). But I am better for it. So, so, so better for it.

It’s still cold, but just cold relatively (say 50 to 60F, about 10 to 15C – I know, I have it tough). The jacket came off after about a mile. But I wasn’t crazy for shade, and I only filled my pack about half way, so as to not carry too much weight. I didn’t even drink it all (which was less than 35 fl. ounces – sorry, I don’t know the metric equivilant to that).

My route: Aliso Canyon, Wood Canyon, Mathis, Coyote Run, Rock It, West Ridge, Top of the World, Meadows, Wood Canyon, Aliso Canyon.

Elevation gain: 1,233 feet

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Rock It:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Meadows:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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