Saturday, March 19, I got out to Trabuco Canyon about 7AM to run my regular fourteen mile loop, but this time in reverse. Reversed the loop is: up Trabuco Trail, UP W. Horsethief (Mama Mia!), up and down The Main Divide, and then finally down Holy Jim (Joy, joy!)
Although I arrived fairly early to the Holy Jim lot, it was already full, except for one spot that I backed into next to the porta potty. There was a large group of hikers prepping for a hike to Santiago Peak via Holy Jim. Seeing this made me a little glad that I had decided to reverse my loop with that many people going up (had to be more than twenty). Though I really do love people, I tend to shy away from them, as I prefer solitude.
So, I took off trotting up Trabuco Trail toward the trailhead when one by one, 4wd trucks began to pass me. One truck stopped, and the man inside rolled down his window and I thought I heard him ask, “You lift?” I almost answered, “Well, no, but I used to.” But I stopped myself short, thinking, “Now Lauren, he’s NOT going to ask if you lift weights.” So, with my early morning diversified and bountiful vocabulary said, “Huh?”
Turns out he asked if I WANTED a lift. (Laughing). Then another driver asked if I wanted a ride. I chuckled and replied, “No thank-you, THIS is the goal,” and continued on running toward the Trabuco Trailhead where a dozen or so cars had already parked. It is very rare that even a single car is parked in this lot.
Well, a group of sixteen hikers were going up W. Horsethief this Saturday morning. And it turned out to be okay, in fact pleasurable going up that terrible, beautiful trail with sixteen others. It’s actually comforting to suffer with others, even strangers, I think especially with strangers.
To my utter delight, salamanders roamed Trabuco Trail on the way to W. Horsethief. They were everywhere crawling about the moist trail. I can’t tell you how much I love salamanders– they’re adorable! When one some of the hikers caught me, we got to talking about the salamanders, and I told John, the hiker in front of me, that they reminded me of puppies. “That’s weird,” he said with a chuckle. I told him I was serious, that when I pick salamanders up and look at their little orange faces, their faces remind me of puppies. (I had already picked up three or four that morning). John said, “Have you ever thought of getting help for that Lauren?” (Big laughs here).
Reaching the top of W. Horsethief came as a huge relief. Really! That climb is super tough for me and I take it at an actual snail’s pace. I didn’t take The Main Divide much faster, but at least I was able to run the flats and down hills, and some of the up hills that were not so steep and long. The views and the trek were literally breathtaking – wait, maybe the breathtaking came from the march up toward Trabuco Peak! That’s a brutal trek also, especially as warm as it was on Saturday.
Off roaders passed here and there. Everyone waved. Views of Riverside and San Bernardino counties were crystal clear. I could still see snow on The San Gabriels. On the OC. side, the ocean was covered with a sea of clouds.
I actually ran up on three or four runners along The Main Divide, which is rare. At the Holy Jim trailhead, several hikers rested in the shade, beat from the climb up. One man wore a netted hat, though the gnats were far and few between.
I felt great running down Holy Jim. What pure joy to run down that giant switchback! I came upon several hikers and a couple of cyclists. I even ran up on a runner who recognized me from this blog. His name is Brandon, and I really enjoyed stopping and talking local trails with him. He’s one of the few people I can talk Yaeger Mesa about. He even knew the story of the bell up there. He knows the guy who carried it up. Anyway, we must have chatted for ten minutes before I took off again, delighted in the cool breeze (as I had been growing quite warm). Euphoria set in while finishing up Holy Jim. Gosh, euphoria is one of the great benefits of trail running – perhaps the best (and it does not always come along).
The bottom of the canyon was absolutely packed with day hikers. Most everyone was smiling, but I noticed a few grimaces, as uphill hiking isn’t so enjoyable if you haven’t done it before. I overheard a woman complain about the gnats. And I thought, Oh my, you have not seen nothing yet! He, he – better learn to embrace the gnats.
Great time out there on this day.
14.21 miles, 3,519’ elevation gained.