Sunday, March 3, I went long. I went long on Harding Truck Trail, which starts at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon. I arrived fairly early, as those limited parking spaces fill up quickly, and took one of the two remain spots. It was just before 8:00 AM when I took off up Harding Truck Trail. Several other hikers took off behind me.
Though it was relatively early, it was not so for trail people. I met quite a few hikers and runners coming down as I made my way up that steep grade. Boy, is Harding Truck Trail steep. It’s not so technical, as it is a truck trail after all (though actually closed to traffic). I found the trek up Harding very difficult, and actually ran very little of it. Once I passed the 5 mile mark (where Laurel Springs Trail branches off), I came up on very few people on Harding Truck Trail. Overall, the views were delightful – lots of spring flowers and above blue skies with white puffy and smeared clouds. The scene was serene.
My goal (or turnaround point) was “Four Corners,” which is where Harding meets Maple Springs and The Main Divide branching off in two directions. I will not lie and say that the climb up to “Four Corners” wasn’t tough. It was tough as hell. But then again, when do I ever say the climb wasn’t tough. IT IS ALWAYS tough for me. I kept the following in my mind on the way up – “at mile 7.5 you get a reprieve!” That’s when there’s a slight downhill, and then the climb after that isn’t so steep. Right about mile 7.5 I came across what appeared to be three brothers. I didn’t ask if they were related, but they all looked alike. There was a small, a medium and a large blonde haired boy, just like my three sons (though not blonde), but these guys also had a few years on mine. Anyway, I passed them, and kept in the back of my mind not to let them catch up (because I am weird that way).
Finally, FINALLY, after three hours and 45 minutes, I made it to 4 corners. There was one dirt bike rider who came up on The Main Divide. Other than that, I was alone until the three brothers arrived and carried on along The Main Divide. I probably stayed about 15 minutes drinking my protein shake, taking photographs and looking out onto Orange, Riverside and Orange Counties. I felt fully rested, and quite content.
As I made my way back down Harding Truck Trail, I came up on a semi-large hiking group that I had passed on my way up. It was like seeing old friends.
The run back down was uneventful for the first 2+ miles. Thing was, I didn’t focus well on the trail. Instead, I found myself thinking about work and other such worries. Okay, I know that I must focus, especially when fatigued on trails. You would think that I would have learned. But, NO! I let myself get lost in thought. Then with about 7 miles remaining, I tripped. And when I tripped, I went flying forward. I don’t know where my tuck and roll went, but apparently, it’s gone. Now, it’s just spaz-out free fall. And that’s just what I did.
I landed hard. And though I knew I was hurt, I knew that I did not hit my head, and I probably had not broken anything. But, my breathing out of control, I was certain to vomit. Oddly, I made my way to the edge of the trail so that I could vomit (because I thought it was polite to be neat about it). Leaning over a fallen log, I noticed the blood oozing from my leg. But all I really cared about was puking. Just as I started to dry-heave, I got some reason and focused on getting my breathing under control. I have no idea where that reason came from; I guess just from within. Slowly, so, so very slowly, my breaths lengthened, and I took in more oxygen. It was at that point that the nausea left me.
I could tell that my immediate injuries were to my right leg and palm. The injury to my palm looked terrible with ripped skin covering a small hole in my hand. I actually felt sore all over, but the visible injuries came from the aforementioned. “Seven miles,” that’s what I told myself. All I need to do is focus for seven miles. So, I wiped the blood off of my leg until that was moot – I mean, why wipe the blood when it doesn’t matter? It was just going to keep oozing until it was done, and I didn’t want to wait. And so, I swallowed three ibuprofen and took off trotting down Harding Truck Trail toward my truck parked at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary.
Those last seven miles were bearable, with my main problem coming from my hand, and a part of my leg that was not bleeding (the right side of my front right calf). With about two miles remaining, I ran up on two lovely ladies who were hiking the trails now in afternoon heat. One of them noticed my leg, and made comments to the affect that I was a bad-ass for traversing the trails seven miles with my injury. That kind of praise always cracks me up (like when people were amazed that I made it two miles to my truck with a broken arm). I mean, what was I supposed to do? I am no bad-ass for running those miles with my injury. I did it because that’s what I had to do to get to my truck. I had no other options. Believe me, if I could have dialed in a helicopter (free of charge of course) to come pick me up, I would have surely done so.
Total trip miles: 18.84 miles (30.32 km)
Elevation gained: 3,666’ (1,117 m)