TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Meadows/Rockit Loop

Well, it's taken me nearly a week to write this one up. It’s 8pm Friday night now, and the only reason I’m still awake and not in bed is because I’m waiting for laundry. The shirt I want to wear to work tomorrow was at the bottom of the hamper. So, awake I will stay for another good hour or so. :( Heck, now is a good a time as any to do up a quick blog post.

As I mentioned, it was nearly a week ago that I last hit the trails (9/30). I took on the Meadows/Rockit Loop at Aliso Wood Canyons. I wanted at most ten miles, but I miscalculated, or rather forgot that this loop comes in over eleven! Oh well. I ran some. I didn’t fall. All was good. The park was crowded with high school cross country teams in the canyons, and up on the ridge, lots of hikers and runners. But on the Meadows portion (a difficult climb) and the Rockit portion, I had the wilderness all to myself. Wait, I take that back -- there was one other person going up Meadows. It was a guy pushing his bike. Did not look fun. Coming in toward the final stretch, I met up with much needed shade, and also bunches of cyclists on Coyote Run Trail. As I pulled over into the brush to let one group pass, one of the cyclists said, “Thank you Sir,” and then when I came into full view said, “I mean ‘Mam.”  His friend riding closely behind him replied to the incident, “What a dick Chad!” I got a good chuck out of that.

After that day on the trails, all my runs have been on the treadmill at the gym. Starting out small, like I’m starting over. Cuz I am.

me meadowsIMG_1147IMG_1154me rock it

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

No Capris!

Though Thursday is my toughest workday (about 7 hours of lecture, compared to 0 - 3 on most days), I have the biggest break between classes on this day. I’m off at 12:20pm at one school, and am not due at my next until 6:00pm. As such, this day was a perfect day to hit the trails. A few weeks into my new regimen, I am aiming for 5 workouts each week. In preparation. I wore my running bra beneath my clothes, so there wasn’t any risqué changing parked in my truck in a residential neighborhood just outside a back way into Aliso/Woods Canyons. My Garmin, a handheld of water, and a belt for my keys and phone packed in the truck, I was ready to take on the trail. But first, a change into a pair of capris and off with the checkered ruffle blouse, and on with a new cotton t-shirt in the front seat of my truck.

The time was 1:30 pm when my feet finally got moving. I thought that the afternoon timing would be okay, because it is after all autumn. Our mornings have been rather cold, and the evenings brisk too. Our afternoons have been mild, so much so, that I don’t feel inclined to wear summer clothing lately to work. Anyway! Such was not the case on Thursday. The weather felt more than warm. It was HOT. And my “run” being along West Ridge, didn’t help much. West Ridge is 100% exposed -- that means no shade. (As a side note, run is in quotes because I hiked much of this trip, as I will be doing for awhile until I get more into shape).

I think now is a good time to insert a note about capris. First of all, what the hell was I thinking? For years, I only ever wore shorts on trails. I learned that the first time I ran trails in Peter’s Canyon about 11 years ago. But strangely for some reason, with all the extra weight I have put on, I feel the need for capris. It’s like, I’m too fat for shorts or something. I don’t know. I wear shorts to the gym (those mostly I wear capris). I wear shorts in my neighborhood. I wear shorts around town. So, precisely why I feel the need to slip into capris when I’m on the trails eludes me. (What are capris? They are spandex leggings that go past the knee, so they are nearly pant length).

Well, I am here to report now, I will never, ever wear flipping capris on the trail again -- I don’t care if it’s snowing. NO CAPRIS.

Other than that, the trip was beautiful. :)

Miles: 5.13

Elevation Gain: 593’

Gate to WestRidge Trail (in Aliso Viejo, which leads to Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach:IMG_1118Nearing the “top”:me top of the worldHeading back:IMG_1126

Friday, September 22, 2017

It’s Been A While

Saturday, September 16, I woke fairly early (for a Saturday anyway). I’ve been attempting to get back to a morning person schedule. I used to be a “morning person.” Once upon a time I awoke at 5am (sometimes earlier), and had conquered the world before anyone in the house had awakened. Those times aren’t these. I am back however, I am back to rising much earlier now that I’m back at work. So, as I was writing . . . up earlyish on Saturday (7am). But I sat around for a good half hour drinking coffee and surfing the internet. By 7:45, I was finally out the door with pack in hand.

The sky was cloudy and gray, and I was oh so grateful for that because I cannot wait for summer to end. Another thing that has changed drastically with me -- I hate heat, and I used to quite enjoy it. Fortunately, it feels like fall is just around the corner. I’ve actually been throwing on long sleeved shirts in the morning it's been so chilly lately. Saturday was not long sleeved weather, but it was cool nonetheless.

It’s been awhile since I’ve  wandered about Arroyo Trabuco Trail. On Saturday I choose to park in one of my regular spots, at a park across the street from a Las Tijeras trailhead. My goal was a twelve mile hike, and I wasn’t a tenth of a mile in when I spotted a deer in the field just below my trail! She didn’t scoot of immediately, instead merely glanced up at me, taking a few steps here and there before finally trotting off.

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La Tijeras Creek flowed quite well for a mid September day. Last winter’s storms had changed its course ever so slightly, starting my crossing thirty or so feet earlier than I recalled. I crossed easily, hopping from rock to rock. With now nearly eleven miles remaining of my hike, I wasn’t ready to get my feet wet. I save my water stomping for the end of hikes.

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Arroyo Trabuco Trail was full of visitors. There were bikers, lots of bikers -- bikers in small groups, large groups, one was even a group of ten. I came upon several trail runners as well, and I didn’t feel that slight envy that I usually feel when I come upon trail runners. I was really that content just to be out there on the trails. I even recognize a trail runner that I am familiar with, Tom Barr. I called out his name, and we chatted for a short bit. I felt at home on the trail seeing someone that I recognized.

More hikers, more bikers, more runners. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people on the trail. But then again, Arroyo Trabuco had always been a week day trail for me. I ended up talking briefly with two women who had step aside to my side of the trail to make room for bikers. They questioned me about the Arroyo Trabuco, about particular distances. One of the women was a soccer player who couldn’t run anymore due to knee problems, so I felt akin to her. As the bikers passed, the ladies mainly ladies questioned me about trail distances, and ultimately wanted to know the distance from Doheny beach to O’Neill. I had to do some subtracting to come up with a figure. But then later, after leaving the ladies, realized I calculated incorrectly. The women out of sight, I knew it would bug me for hours giving incorrect trail information, so I ran off to find the two. First off, I was genuinely amazed that I could still run. When I haven’t run in a while, I get this looming feeling that I CAN’T run. Anyway, I found the two, gave them a new number, and then headed back toward O’Neill Park.

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I think as I neared O’Neill, the crowd grew heavier. I overheard one woman in a pack of hikers say behind me, “No amount of beer is worth this shit!” After a chuckle, I picked up my pace some because I didn’t feel like hiking in a group. About that time, I realized that AGAIN, I had calculated incorrectly the trail mileage I gave the woman two miles back. Doh!

Still felt strong at the turnaround point. O’Neill is a great turnaround point. It’s civilized land with clean restrooms, and water fountains if you need it. I didn’t need the water fountains, as my pack was still quite full. And the weather, though not cold, was definitely not warm. Heading back with a little over 6 miles remaining, I ate a PowerBar for breakfast, and carried on as usual -- one foot in front of the other. About a mile out of O’Neill, I saw the two ladies again and gleefully told them my new number. “It’s 16 miles,” I said, “And that’s my final answer.” The trail by now had quieted down, and by the time I reached the mesa, it was virtually empty.

Coming in on the final stretch, I started to feel the fatigue. Up in the distance, off the trail, I noticed a man rustling about in the trees. Always cautious when passing someone on the trail (because I don’t want people behind me), I slowed to study the guy. What’s he doing? What’s in his hands? Upon closer view, I noticed a small pair of binoculars in his hands, and figuring that he was a bird watcher, probably posed little threat. And so then I moved on, still a bit cautious studying the dude. It was upon that study that I realized I knew him. It was Tom Fangrow. THE Tom Fangrow, my oldest trail running friend (and again, I don’t mean oldest as in age), that I have written about so many adventures with in this blog. What a great surprise that was! It’s been a long while since we’ve talked, which is probably why I chatted away much more than I usually do. (Usually I’m not a chatter, but sometimes I get the bug). Anyway, Tom and I walked the next mile or so, until I cut up the trail back to the asphalt bike path that I took back to the road to find my car.

Great hike. I felt like I belonged there. 12.27 miles.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Years Day! (In August)

Tomorrow is my new year. Yay!!!!  It is my new year because I am a teacher. School starts tomorrow at two of the schools I teach. In another two weeks, I will be back at all three schools. And so, tomorrow, everything starts over, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like January first. And I am glad. I am so glad. I have had a rough summer. And now, I feel that I have a new beginning with New Years Day occurring tomorrow.

This summer showed me something, in abundance, that I have known all along is very important to my well-being. That is: I need structure. I need structure big time. If I didn’t have to do anything, it seems lately, I’d just laze around the house all day, taking naps here and there, accomplishing very little, even though I desired to accomplish much. Give me some structure -- then suddenly, I get to those things that have been weighing me down, things that I actually really want to do, but for some reason, with an unstructured lifestyle can’t seem to get it done. Case in point: I didn’t paint the house this summer like I planned, I didn’t find my novel, Beyond the Pale, so that I could give it a read and make changes (I think it’s under the bed), I didn’t clean out my closet, and most important and dear to my heart,  I didn’t get back to trail running.  Mostly, the things that I accomplished were those things that I HAD TO DO. I did get my syllabi created, my class websites set up, some cleaning and reorganizing of my office and also my boys the things they needed. But myself, my physical and mental health: total and utter neglect.

I’ll stop complaining right now, and say that it wasn’t all for naught. I got out and wandered some, and I spent several hours in the gym. But those wandering hours -- they are where it’s at with me. I love to wander. I have two such wanderings to clear out before the new year tomorrow.

The first was way, way back on August 11, for 6 miles. It was an evening expenditure, taking the first steps out my front door. My route included: Doheny Beach, Capistrano Beach, and the wharf. The weather was warm, but beach breezy. And at the wharf, I saw sea lions barking and swimming in the waters right off of Wind N’ Sea restaurant. 

Doheny Beach:IMG_0846

Sea Lions playing near the wharf:IMG_0860

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IMG_0876The second was at one of my usual haunts, Wood Canyon way back on August 15, for 7 miles. I took this one in the evening, or thereabouts. No stress involved, just lovely scenery and moving the feet. It’s odd when I am so out of shape, and I mean it (really!), I can still hike seven miles. So, I guess, I’ve got a good base to start over with on this upcoming new year (that happens tomorrow!)

Wood Canyon:IMG_0879

Pretty cool hiking partner:IMG_0889

More Wood Canyon:IMG_0892

And some parting pictures from the year --

From our summer garden:IMG_0871

And . . . my cat in a box:IMG_0902

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Aliso/Wood Canyons Loop

August 2nd, Wednesday, in the muggy heat of the afternoon, I parked my car at Canyon View Park for a long hike in Aliso/Wood Canyons. The place was empty. Empty, as in not one car was parked along the road that is usually lined with automobiles. I noticed a young couple hiking up from Wood Canyon as I prepped at my truck, and overheard them ask a maintenance worker the whereabouts of a drinking fountain. The worker shook his head, and I shouted out that there was a drinking fountain over in the playground. Turns out, I went to check that out on my way into the canyon, and to my horror found that the drinking fountain was no longer there. Why would they remove the fountain? It actually annoyed me a great deal. Well, I trotted on down into the canyon to catch the couple, and offered them some of my water. I would after all, be able to refill at my half-way point. They politely declined and said that because they were from Texas, they could handle it. 

So, I took off into Wood Canyon, opting for the shady route for the first half. But as I inched into the canyon, I could feel the furnace heating up. And somewhat disbelieving that the Texas couple could hack their lack of water, I changed my route, and decided to head up Cholla and hike the same route as the waterless two.

Ends up, I never saw them again. And it was really a good thing that I changed my route. West Ridge was breezy and lovely. Much better than hiking the canyon where the heat gets trapped. About a mile in, I met up with some hiking company – gentleman named Kevin, a professor from Cal State Fullerton (my alma mater). We hiked those 3 miles up to Top of the World, chatting and comparing notes, which made the time scoot by quickly, especially on the two particularly steep portions that I struggle on of late. 

At Top of the World, Kevin headed off to his car, while I headed into the neighborhoods to pick up the park at the other end near Meadows Trail. At Meadows I headed down into Aliso Canyon. Then I made the trek back up Wood Canyon to my truck parked alongside Canyon View Park, for a total of 9.71 miles.

I saw lots of snake tracks along the way, but not a single snake, and snapped a few pictures of the scenery that I possess perhaps thousands of pictures of already. Smile

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

WalkAbout

Gotta keep moving!

Hot and muggy in my parts, but nothing like what a little drive inland will give you. We are still WELL below 100 F. We even had a little rain the other night. And it pretty much constantly looks like a thunder storm is going to burst down upon us. Plus despite the humidity, we still have those cool ocean breezes a plenty!

Sunday late afternoon (7/30), I decided on the coolest route possible to get my legs moving – a walkabout in my own town. Took off on an incline to move inland some, then I caught the bike path down to Monarch Beach, where the Monarch Links (a golf club) overlooks the shore.

Miles for this loop totaled 7.7. Dark clouds loomed above. Cool breezes blew in my face. I am just so dang spoiled here. The climb out of Dana Strands to the Headlands was really tough (need I mention I’m out of shape!). But it was well worth it to venture across the Headlands. I arrived home just after the street lights came on.

Monarch Links:IMG_0759

At Salt Creek:IMG_0765

Salt Creek, or maybe Dana Strands:IMG_0773

Hiking the Headlands:IMG_0777IMG_0782

Back in town:IMG_0785

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Pillars Beneath the 5

The main highway in my parts is Interstate 5. I take to get pretty much everywhere. I drive the 5 to work. I take it north and it gets me to LA. I take it south and it gets me to San Diego. And as I have been doing since I was little girl, I daze out the car windows imaging all the places I could discover off of the 5 every time I travel it. I don’t know how may times, dozens, hundreds, I’ve noticed this particular dirt road at the edge of San Clemente just before Camp Pendleton, the marine base. It’s a long, wide road that travels beneath the 5, and heads off to the coast. I’ve made note of that road countless times, but in the 29 years I’ve lived here, I guess it kept slipping my mind.

As luck would have it, this past Saturday (7/29), I finally took the drive to the edge of San Clemente to take a look at that road. It was late afternoon, so I decided to just make a leisurely time of it. I did put on a pack, but that was merely because I didn’t know what to expect. I really just wanted to get out and clear my mind, not to mention move a little. 

I parked my truck on Christianitos Road, not far from the campgrounds. Being that I really wanted a beach destination, I hopped the crash guard and headed to the coast, as opposed to myriad of trails headed inland. Those inland trails will have to wait for another day, a non-summer day, as trees are sparse inland, which means very little shade. And as many who know me knows, I cannot take heat anymore.

The road began as a dirt path, and as it neared Interstate 5, grew shady from lush growth near a seasonal creek. There were plenty other travelers taking this road, most carrying surfboards, some wheeling wagons of day-at-the-beach stuff up from the shore.

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IMG_0687I continued on the dirt path beneath the 5, where the grand pillars that held it up were covered with graffiti.  Four or five marines drinking Dox Equis beer came up as I studied the art beneath the 5. I knew they probably had to be marines because one of them called me Mam when he greeted me.

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Beneath the 8 or so lanes of Interstate 5, the road turned to pavement. It went off to the left, and to the right (where a number of surfers were trotting down, surfboards in hand). I took the road straight, at the welcome to San Onofre Beach sign. From there, it was a slight decline to raised train tracks. I think the mileage totaled about 1.5 to the tracks. Just past that, the shore.

I found a spot in the sand to sit and watch the waves. Then I shuffled through the graveled sand for beach glass. I found a small handful of green, white and clear. The lifeguard stands stood empty, but the beach was far from empty. Though not crowded, this is obviously a surfing beach, with surfers everywhere – in the waves, on the sand, and even on their bikes tugging along their boards. Occasionally, a train roared by. And I noticed that beach goers drank beer freely, as opposed to the beaches near my home where you’ll get ticketed for drinking alcohol.

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There’s an unusual amount of driftwood strewn about at San Onofre. Something I never see at my beaches. And even more interesting are the structures built out of this wood up and down the beach. They are literally everywhere – tepees and huts. The ones being used were covered with towels and such, but many were vacant, ready to be photographed.

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So, after meandering about, hunting for beach glass and admiring all the makeshift huts, I decided to make my way across the tracks. From there I found a little dirt path that lead up to a paved road. This was the same paved road that veered off to the left on my way out beneath the 5.

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About a half mile later, I came to my turnoff, but before heading back, I stepped up on the bridge and peered down at the creek. It was my kind of world down there beneath the giant pillars of the 5, so dark, lush and green. One day, I told myself, I’d come back to explore. And then while looking over, I caught a glimpse of bright colors through the leaves. And that’s when I noticed some heavy-duty graffiti art deep in the growth.

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I knew there had to be a way down. A chain link fence ran along the road to deter people from getting to just where I wanted. But you can’t fence in everything, there’s always a way in. Determined, I headed back to my truck, on the search for a trail that lead deep beneath the 5. It didn’t take to long to find it. The trail was overgrown, and littered with spray paint cans. When I finally located the walls, I found that the graffiti went on and on and on, pillar after pillar. I could have spent all day down there. But I got so deep into the brush, I spooked myself, fearful that I might come upon some guys looking for mischief, and then where was I to go? So, I headed back up, losing the trail here and there. I used the graffiti as a road map, making it back to the road safe and sound.

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3.7 mile lollipop loop:san onofre