TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Going Big

I wandered about on the trails on Memorial Day. Not a huge wander, but enough to work up a good sweat. I hiked most of the Trip to Top of the World in Laguna Beach, and I thought some about my plan -- my plan to get back into shape. My plan is to get out and move every day, even if it’s for a short distance. I don’t have to go big. I don’t need to go big. Just getting out there is big. Winking smile

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6.33 miles, Wood Canyon-Cholla Trail-West Ridge-Top of the Word-and back.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Up off the Couch

I am terribly out of shape. Now, I say that cautiously because I realize that there are many people who cannot walk a mile (but on the other hand, many can walk hundreds of miles). I can walk a mile, plus some. I can also run a mile, plus some, but that is mainly because I am stupid – because so out of shape am I, that I would attempt to run say ten miles, then injure myself, or fall and break a leg or much worse.

Let me tell you first off, that the gym will never get me fit. I have been visiting the gym all the while that I have grown so terribly out of shape. The reason the gym will not get me into shape is because I tend to use the gym as a time of relaxation. I spend an hour on the elliptical relaxing – on the stationary bike relaxing – I do so reading novels, binge watching shows on Netflix.

So, all I really know now about my fitness is that I am over weight, and I am not strong. I feel weaker than I ever remember. But now that I have some time off for the summer (hours cut in half!), I have time to get moving, time to gain back some of that strength. This is something that I desire tremendously.

Alas, accomplishing such a goal is not as easy as saying it. This means that I need to get outside and move. And when in the past, a hundred wild horses couldn’t stop me from doing that, now, well, I’d much rather sleep.

And, so now begins my summer journey of getting back into shape. And it almost didn’t happen this particular holiday weekend, because I nearly opted for a nap instead. It was Sunday afternoon that I finally decided to step outside and move. The only way I could get myself to do it, was to promise myself not to try and run. This would be a nice, leisurely hike, umm, I mean walk (well, actually more like powerwalk) in and about my lovely seaside town which I often so quickly flee from for mountainous terrain.

I opted for a loop, one that dumped me out on Monarch Beach, our most northern beach. From there, I took the sand along Salt Creek Beach and then Dana Strands. And then in the cool ocean breeze, I took the many agonizing flights of steps back up to town where I hoped onto the Headlands Trail which is a short-cut back into downtown (or the Lantern District, as it is named). The stairs were terribly difficult, and I needed to stop and rest one or two times.  Around that time, I glanced down at my garmin and noticed that I was running about a half hour later than I had planned, and that I far past what I thought would be about 4.5 miles total. In all, this loop was 8 miles, which took me by surprise, especially odd because this is not a new loop, I’ve done it many times before.

The trip:

I noticed these beautiful purple flowers (which I see often in the wild in the coastal hills) on my way to the trail that leads down to Monarch Beach:

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The tunnel beneath Highway One (the little bus is taking tourists back to their hotel):

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESFinally at the seashore:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMonarch Beach:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDana Strands:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe Headlands:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Unexpected Day Off

I didn’t know that I had a day off from class last Thursday. The evening I had already secured a substitute so that I could attend my sons’ award ceremony, but I had planned to work during the day. My students though kept telling me that there were no classes on Thursday because it was the last day before final exams. Finally, I decided to look up the official school calendar. Sure enough, no class.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd so I set off into the wild blue yonder, Santiago Truck Trail that is, on a warm weekday mid-morning. Though much of the wild grass has turned brown, spring flowers were still in full bloom. My goal was to the flag and back. Goal met. I did much thinking, but some of the time I thought about nothing, and that was really the most refreshing part. I ran only some of the time, hiked much of it, perhaps a third. This is some of what it was like:

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7.31 miles, 1,300’ elevation gained.

5 18 17

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Different Sounds of Silence

Oh, woe is me! When will I have the time and strength to wander again? This past Sunday, even in my lagging and out-of-shape condition, I did finally make it out to the wilderness to wander. Recently, I learned that Trabuco Creek Road had finally re-opened, so being so long away from my friend Cussin’ Jim, I made the trip out for a late morning hike. No running involved. I didn’t want to kill myself.

To begin, I didn’t arrive to the Holy Jim lot until about 10:30, and there were no parking spaces open. That’s expected on a beautiful warm spring weekend. I found a spot to squeeze my truck in about a quarter mile outside of the Holy Jim Lot, just past the volunteer fire department. There, I parked in between two other trucks, one of the owners still packing his gear for a fishing trip along Trabuco Creek, not twenty feet from our automobiles.

I cannot tell you just how many hikers I came upon along the road to the trailhead, and also along Holy Jim for a bit. The creeks were still flowing strong, even in many places that I have not seen water in many years. There were mini-falls over boulders, and creeks to cross even across roads. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI lost most of the hikers at the Holy Jim Falls junction, as that’s the main attraction in these parts. And after that, well, it’s a pretty hard ass hike. It’s not the worst of hikes, just a relentless, switch-back after switch-back, mostly in the sun.  And I’m not good in the sun anymore (still it was worth it!).

Spring flowers littered the landscape, and after about mile two, Lupin was in full purple bloom. Even though I always hope that it could, the camera can never illustrate the spring flowers full beauty. But it’s close enough to snap a shot anyway, again and again. 

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I sure do love Holy Jim. But it is not a hike for the weak, and I’m teetering on that. There are so many beautiful scenes – ridges from afar, orange rock trail walls, flowers and snakes (I saw a rattler!), and every so often, glorious tunnels of shade through small groves of trees.  I wasn’t quite sure just how far I’d make it up the trail. And since the heat was strong, I really could have turned back at any time. But I endured to a little over mile four, to a location where I took a seat and looked out over these Santa Ana Mountains. 

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Just before my turnaround point, about a half mile or so, I decided to unplug the music. I thought that the silence would suit me better at that point. I was hot, and I was tired. And the silence definitely did me better. Amazing how many sounds there are in the silence. Insects flying by my ears sounded like cars whizzing by on a tiny highway. The breeze blowing through the trees sounded just like the gentle ocean waves crashing onshore about quarter mile from my house. And as I got further down the mountain, I the stream broke through the silence. It was fierce and loud, kind of like an angry wind storm blowing through the trees. I didn’t miss the music piped in from my ipod one bit.

Miles: 8

Elevation gained: 1,964’

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