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Sunday, June 25, 2017

What Goes Down, Must Come Up

Friday, June 23 -- I did it again. I started on the downhill, which of course meant I ended on an uphill. A long uphill. Because what goes down must come up right? And I did it because I wanted something a little different at Aliso/Woods Wilderness, and I wanted just a quick drive up the coast.

I parked my truck in Laguna Beach, at a little unknown park called Moulton Meadows. The weather was actually cold, and I thought for a second that I should have brought long sleeves. I quickly scoffed at the thought. Who was I kidding?Southern California’s in the middle of a heat wave, even if we’re enjoying mid sixties temperatures on the coast.

Sure enough, the closer I got into the canyon, the warmer it grew. And it was no simple task getting into the canyon down Mentally Sensitive Trail. The trail is so rugged and steep, that I even had to butt scoot a small section. I made the entire thing without falling!

IMG_0369Anyway, the 9.11 miles were mostly quite warm. Thankfully, an ocean breeze did manage to come up over the coastal hills. And then just like that, back at the Top of the World, it was cold again, eerie cold with white heavy mist full clouds rolling in. I felt like I was in a scene from a horror movie.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Maple Springs to Four Corners

Tuesday was my day off – the entire day off. So, in my infinite wisdom, I headed off to Silverado Canyon around 12:30 pm, driving that single lane road past Maple Springs Trailhead, to arrive at the dirt truck trail called Maple Springs Road at about 1:30. I knew right away that the heat would give me trouble, but I took that step anyway.

It was serene and beautiful and all – pine forests in the distance, short bursts of Maple Tree shade. Little yellow butterflies and also large Monarchs flittered between flowers that still dot the mountains. And the trail was relatively empty – I saw only two mountain bikers, and also one guy on a motorcycle, and another group of guys in a jeep.

Overall, the trek was hot, as in really, really warm. And it was also steep. But you know how I love to suffer. And I also love this part of our mountains so much, that I was able to grin and bear it (not too much grinning though – until I reached the top).

My top on Tuesday was a location dubbed “Four Corners.” It’s where the Main Divide goes off in two different directions, and where Harding Truck Trail and Maple Springs Road meet.  From this point, I had views of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, a bit of LA County, and Orange County as well. In the distance, loomed the much larger mountain range, the San Gabriel Mountains, whose shadows I grew up in.

I ran most of the way back, being that it was down hill. Tripped only once, and I was so grateful that I remained upright. I am still really freaked out about falling. But if I had to fall anywhere, it would definitely be on Maple Springs Road.

8.77 miles, 1,672’ elevation gained.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Best of Both Worlds

When I took off for the coastal hills on Sunday (about 2 o’clock) I had every intention of doing a five mile loop. And I was happy to do that – the pressure was off. But I mis-calculated some. Well more than just “some.” In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve done this particular loop, that I really just had no clue. For the record, the following loop out of Newport Coast totals 9.4 miles:

From Ridge Park, that trail downhill that turns into No-Name, then No-Dogs to the ranger station; from the station to beneath the highway to touch sand at Crystal Cove State Beach; then back through the parking lot to catch El Moro Canyon; the canyon to Nice N’ Easy Trail back to Bommer Ridge and then back to Ridge Park.

This really is a love trail system, with the best of both worlds – wilderness and majestic ocean views, not to mention a stop at the great Pacific. But the thing that I REALLY hate about this park, is that I start at the top, which means downhill in the beginning. Of course, downhill in the beginning means uphill at the end. I hate uphill at the end. Uphill at the beginning is always my first choice. (For the record, parking is free if I start at the top at Ridge Park and enter via Laguna Wilderness. If I park at the bottom and enter via Crystal Cove, parking is $15.00. I am a free parking kind of gal, though I do purchase adventure passes so that I can park in the mountains.)

Anyway! Climbing out of El Moro Canyon was a bit hellish. I was wiped out before the really hard part too. Funny how I kept thinking, “The really hard part is almost here,” as I staggered about the trail. I probably looked like a drunkard. The hardest part is the hardest part because its exposed (meaning it will get hot) and super steep for too long a distance. And then, when I finally reached the REALLY hard part, yikes! Just put one foot in front of the other was all I could do. And it went on and on and on. And Nice N’ Easy, was NOT nice and easy. It went on forever as well – all the while with pretty ocean views.

Needless to say, I was home much later than planned. But I was happy to have done it. All the struggle is really worth it. I think I thrive on struggle.

No-Name Ridge:IMG_0232

Aha! The ocean comes into view on No-Name:IMG_0233


Crystal Cove State Beach:IMG_0244


Hemlock lined trails:IMG_0251IMG_0258

The REALLY hard part:


El Moro Canyon:IMG_0278

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Friday, June 9, 2017

My Step Forward

I have broken yet another camera. But this wrecked camera is not accompanied by some dramatic event. I did not fall off of a cliff and toss it in the process. The wind did not blow it off a post. The zoom just refuses to open. And alas, I will not be purchasing another anytime soon -- expenses are astronomical right now, and I wouldn’t feel good about purchasing myself a camera (as low priced as they are). With a son just graduating high school, it’s like we’ve been throwing money by the handfuls out of the house: prom tickets, tux, Senior Disneyland day, Grad Nite, senior pictures, announcements, cap and gown, tassel, replacement for ruined Calculus book, college enrollment deposit, dorm housing deposit, oh my gosh -- it’s mind boggling (plus we have music lessons for all the boys, dental appointments, dermatologist appointments, not to mention the house is in desperate need of a paint job.) So! There will be no new camera for me. Not to worry, because I hear these things that are glued to our palms (otherwise known as phones) have pretty good cameras inside them. Winking smile

Needless to say, I did not get off to as strong of a start that I had hoped with my classes ending. I’m now on break from two of my schools, returning to one of them shortly. You would think I have more time. I suppose I do, but then again, there’s more to get done (did I mention the house needs painting?) And the more and more I neglect working on my physical strength, the more depressed I grow. I have only lost about three pounds, and in my morose mood, I grow even more so in reflection. It dawned on me this week that I have the exact same issues with myself that I had when I was sixteen years old. I can’t tell you how disappointing and sad I was in realizing this. Blah! Just breathe and go forward, I told myself. Don’t reflect, just stay in the moment and BE. That’s all I can do. I don’t know what else to do, but keep on trying -- forget about the failures, forget about my multitude of shortcomings. Just take a step forward.

So, Tuesday, the 30th of May, when the boys were still in school (they are out for the summer now), I got in a short run down at the harbor. That’s something I want to do now, that is, get back to road running to try and gain some speed. It was tough as hell though, even with the weather cool and overcast. Three miles, I told myself, that’s all you gotta do. It was not fun. I should have worn a hat, as sweat from my head ran into my eyes. The first few minutes pounding the sidewalk were torturous. Really, I felt like my legs were lead, and my breathing wasn’t under control. “Don’t worry,” I assured myself, “it will get better in just a little bit.” As bad as it is to begin any run, it always improves with time. And yes, I did feel a little better after a half mile or so -- but I never felt good. It was tough the whole way, which I account for staying at a much quicker pace than I ever run, the entire route. (3.27 miles)



dripping cave2The next day, May 31, I took to Aliso/Wood Wilderness for a stress-free hike (with very little running) through Wood Canyon. The weather was overcast again (June Gloom). And I really had a fine time, mainly because my route was lonely, and I took some side routes. Beginning in Wood Canyon, I took Coyote Run Trail to Mathis, and from there I caught Dripping Cave Trail. I haven’t seen Dripping Cave for quite a long time. Nothing much has changed at what is sometimes called Robber’s Cave. It was cool, overgrown and quiet. I enjoyed the short visit in the cave, and marched off back into Wood Canyon for another side route called Cave Rock. After climbing to the top of the big rock, I hiked down to the other side of it (the side that does not face Wood Canyon) and spent a short while in the small caves hidden there. Back to Wood Canyon, I made it to the end (where it hits Aliso Canyon) and headed back to my truck, taking Wood Canyon its entire length. Total trip: 8.02 milesdripping cave1cave rock

This brings me to yesterday, Thursday, June 9. I set out late in the day, around noon, and it was actually cold enough to wear a long sleeved shirt over my t-shirt. I had just been so disappointed in myself of late, that I opted for the BIG loop in Aliso Woods. I didn’t really care if I grew utterly fatigued. In fact, that’s exactly what I wanted. I just wanted to march in the wilderness and let my mind be free from baggage. The Big Loop is 12 miles long, with the following route:

From the ranger station, Aliso Canyon to Wood Canyon; Wood Canyon to the end, then up Cholla Trail to the ridge; West Ridge to Top of the World to exit the park; re-enter near Meadows Trail; take Meadows back down to Wood Canyon, and Wood Canyon to Aliso Canyon back to the truck.

IMG_0204As far as journeys go, the twelve miles were uneventful. And that was wonderful. The weather remained cool through Wood Canyon. The trek up Cholla was difficult and warm. The trek up the rolling hills of West Ridge had some company (several hikers and a few runners). By then the clouds had cleared and I had my long sleeve shirt tied around my waist. The trip to Top of the World was quite tiring, but I was not miserable.

IMG_0193IMG_0208IMG_0198The construction on the trail leading back into the park was finished. I was surprised to see they had put in so many steps, and even a hand rail. I much prefer the old rugged trail. But I had that one for a good long while, and I suppose less people will be injured on this new, clean trail.

IMG_0216Travelling down Meadows proved to be difficult, as much strength was needed on my part to remain upright. Some might think that traveling downhill is easy. Well, it’s easier than uphill, but not exactly easy. Much focus is needed to refrain from falling, not to mention that core strength (that I have so very little of) to remain standing after little missteps and such. I came up on a beautiful ribbon snake (black with yellow stripes on its side) but was not quick enough for a photo. I was quick enough however to catch a partial of the gopher snake I nearly stepped on toward the bottom of Meadows Trail.

IMG_0225Meadows Trail was terribly overgrown. During the last half mile or so, the trail was so thin (only about a foot wide), that I was practically bushwhacking. I turned the music off and focused a great deal, being on high alert for rattlesnakes. By the time I reached Aliso Canyon, I was so tired of focusing on the snake thing, that I opted to take the asphalt road back that last mile and a half. Sure I’ve seen plenty of snakes on the road. But they are so much easier to spot well in advance of danger without all the growth, and I really needed to let my guard down and relax, which I did on that final stretch back. (Total trip: 12.12 miles)

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