By the end of last week (Sunday 2/26), I was just shy of increasing my monthly mileage by 10%, which is my goal right now (hoping not to re-injure myself). I wracked my brain for a ten mile loop in my repertoire. I could not think of single one. Last thing I wanted was run circles around the parking lot after my run. But all I had to do was apply a little math to realize that I only needed a bit over nine miles. I had plenty of those in my repertoire.
Weather reports promised rain, but I figured I still had enough time to run some errands and then head off to Aliso/Woods Canyons for my old standard Aliso/Mathis/Top of the World/Meadows loop. I think it must have been been about 11AM before my feet finally hit dirt. And I actually felt cold . . . gloriously cold. Can’t tell you how much I’m appreciating the cold weather now (especially at my age!). Anyway, I took off with beanie and jacket, wishing I had packed gloves. But I knew soon enough, I’d be peeling off the layers (and indeed I did).
About a quarter mile in, a woman approached and asked if I thought the trails were safe. I do think they’re safe, and told her so, but also showed her my stun gun. Still nervous some, she asked if she could accompany me into Wood Canyon. We did those first 1.5 miles together, chatting some, talking about the park and the trails. It was a nice break from the loneliness I was about to venture out on. A little bit into Wood Canyon, we went our separate ways. I think she felt more comfortable about the park at this point, as there were several hikers, runners and mountain bikers making their way about.
The dark gray cool skies continued. And about 3 miles into my run, it began to rain. I wasn’t turning back though – 1) because I was already committed to the loop, and 2) I figured the rain would come and go.
The rain did come and go as I made my way up that wonderful-terrible climb called Mathis. I’ll take the rain on Mathis any day over the heat.
More of Mathis:
I made it to Top of the World relatively dry. I took a doogie bag out of a dispenser in the park up there and covered my devices (phone and camera), and I clipped my ipod to the inside of my jacket. And then I headed off through the neighborhoods to re-enter the park near Meadows Trail.
1.5 miles later, I found this:
Ummmmmm. What is one to do but break the rules when something like this happens? Rain was beginning to fall harder. I couldn’t turn around and go back the other way – it was either cut through this and have 3 miles remaining, or turn back and go another 6 miles in the rain.
You can guess what I did:
By the time I reached Meadows Trail, my clothing was fairly wet. I could wring water from my jacket sleeves, but my first layer of clothing was still somewhat dry. Secure in the knowledge that I only had three miles left, and that it was all downhill, I felt fine at this point. Little did I know the grief that awaited me.
I had totally forgotten how slippery the mud gets on Meadows Trail. I literally slid down the trail, tugging on branches and barely missing twisted ankles. Using every muscle in my entire body to stay upright, I am amazed I did not fall. There were MANY close calls. Eventually, I couldn’t take it any longer. So, I cut the trail (I know – gasp!). It was either trek straight down the hillside through the grass or die in the mud.
This is what I traipsed through to avoid sliding down the hillside:
I will not deny that I felt utterly miserable in the rain going down Meadows. But on the other hand, I loved the adventure. And if the mud and rain hadn’t forced me off of the trail, I might have never seen water collecting like diamonds in the leaves of Lupins. My pictures come nowhere to giving that sight justice.
Upon reaching the bottom of Meadows, I got off the trails and rain straight to the paved Aliso Creek trail, where I sloshed through puddles to get the thick mud off my shoes.
Back at home, my arms and legs itched furiously, I’m sure from cutting the trail to avoid the mud. So, I guess I deserved that. Then at night, as I lay down in my bed, every bone and muscle in my body ached.