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Friday, March 30, 2018

View from Westridge

I believe it was Monday that I last got out on the trails. Took in 5 miles along Westridge Trail in Aliso/Wood Canyons after work. Turns out that this is a regular after work trail – I came upon dozens of other hikers. It was wonderful.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sugarloaf Peak 3/24/18

Sunday, I took an amazing hike out to Sugarloaf Peak in the Cleveland National Forest. The weather was perfectly cold.  The trails were perfectly tranquil. And the entire route was single track – my favorite of course.

IMG_1222I took San Juan Trail to Old San Juan Trail where moss crept along the ground, up the rocks and tree trunks. After about 3 miles I arrived to Sugarleaf Peak where I bushwhacked to the base. Then I climbed the rocks to the top. Slightly shivering I put on my beanie for protection against the cold wind and  stayed for a good long while. It was like visiting with an old friend (one with blue eyes like the skies.) I could see for miles and miles, and watched the dozens of cyclists who came up on Cocktail Rock below. I don’t think that they could see me, but I could see them.

I took San Juan Trail (as opposed to Old San Juan Trail) for a longer route back. It was a magical trip. 9.43 miles. 1,573’ elevation gain:


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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Five Weeks on a Ketogenic Diet

I changed my way of eating five weeks ago, and I have dropped 15 pounds. So much more important than those 15 pounds are some other wonderful side effects I have experienced since changing my way of eating.

Before the diet change, I was dragging, most often tired, and napped every chance I got. I found it difficult to focus, and would frequently forget things (felt like a “brain fog”). Before changing my diet, I struggled to wake in the morning, and I was always hungry. Now, I have energy. I am focused. I get things done. And I am rarely tired (except when I’m supposed to be, like after a long day), which means I never nap. Amazingly, I wake in the morning refreshed, with no groggy time. And I am absolutely never hungry. I am calmer. I am more accepting. I have more patience.

All this from changing my diet? Yes indeed. This is 100% true, and it took me way too long to realize that such a change could impact my life so drastically. Who would have thought? Not me.

So, what is my new way of eating? It is called a ketogenic diet, which is a very low carb diet with adequate protein and high fat. I know to some this may sound absurd, but my calorie intake is basically: 5% carbs, 20% protein, and 75% fat. In a nutshell, I stay at or under 20 grams of carbs a day. If you are a label reader, you’ll know that 20 grams of carbs adds up very quickly. A piece of whole wheat bread for example could be 17 carbs, an apple, I believe is around 10. Good thing I have never been a big fruit eater. I should add that restricting my carbs doesn’t matter one bit to me right now because I am never, and I stress “never” hungry.

IMG_1171With all that said, I got out for another trail run/hike before the rains came down. The day was Tuesday, and my legs were still sore from Sunday’s adventure. It was a tough loop in Aliso/Woods Canyons -- up Mathis Trail, down Meadows. Fortunately, I recovered very quickly after a long difficult trek up Mathis. Recovery time has decreased a great deal as well since beginning a ketogenic diet. I am finally really enjoying the trails once again (hallelujah!). Looking forward to getting back out there after the rain dry up.

Miles: 9.37, Elevation gain: 1,181.

Feeling optimistic. And so are the plants in Southern California. Look at all the green popping through:

View from Aliso Cyn Trail:IMG_1173

Climbing Mathis Trail:


View from Mathis Trail into Wood Canyon:IMG_1197Approaching Meadows Trail:IMG_1212Top of Meadows Trail:IMG_1213IMG_12153 20 18a3 20 18

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Hurt so Good

For me the toughest thing to conquer is the mountains. I mean the toughest thing out of all the physical challenges I put myself through (not talking about the mental challenges here). There’s the gym workouts, runs-hikes in the coastal hills, and occasionally the same in the desert, oh and also, runs down at my beaches (which are completely flat). Now, I’m not claiming that runs down at the beach, like my last 4 mile run (not blogged), aren’t difficult. They are difficult. All of these physical challenges are difficult to some degree. But the mountains -- they kick my butt.

With all the rain that we’ve been having, I thought that I’d check out Chiquito Falls on Sunday to see if it was flowing. Originally, I had planned to go up Maple Springs Road on Sunday (my go-to favorite), but I wasn’t really in the mood for the 1 hour plus drive. So, I opted for the 30 minute commute to the San Juan Loop trailhead (which is across the street from the Ortega Oaks Candy Store on Ortega Highway). I was happy to see the parking lot was crowded because I’m not so accustomed to the mountains like I used to be. The way I see it, the more people, the safer. Ends up, I did not see many people on the trail at all though. And Chiquito falls was but a trickle. But the trip was worth it still.

I really had forgotten what a difficult climb I would encounter going up Chiquito Trail. My memory just remembered the beauty, not the pain. And oh was it beautiful. The pain, well it wasn’t so bad at the moment. Still in a fasting state, I considered breaking my fast at one point with the emergency almonds in my pack. But as usual of late, I quickly rebounded for a strong return. I felt it later that day in my legs. And even the next day, my legs were sore, especially my calves. They hurt so good. Really! I haven’t had a workout like that in ages. (But I did NOT nap when I got home! In the five weeks eating a ketogenic diet, I have only napped once. Huge improvement!)  In all the trip was 9.13 miles with 1,609’ of elevation gain.

Here are some of my favorite pics from that rugged, yet beautiful trip:

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Don’t Forget to Check the Weather Report

IMG_1015I forgot to check the weather report before leaving for Wood Canyon this past Saturday. The skies were gray and cloudy, but it’s been that way for days. I expected as much, but did not expect rain (don’t know why – just didn’t). Running into the canyon was like running into a fairy tale forest where some huntsman lurked in the shadows waiting to nab the princess (and the princess was not I!). It was cold. It was dark. It was beautiful. Then, a little less than two miles in, the rain began to fall. It wasn’t a hard rain. It was a soft rain, composing beautiful music as millions of tiny drops of water hit the trees above. It was one of those instances that nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes. My lack of planning however, left me without plastic baggies to protect my electronics. Quickly, I scooted into a grove of trees and put my ipod in my pocket and buried my phone and camera deep within my pack.


Turned out, I was fine running in the rain. But let this be a word to the wise . . . always check the weather report. And also, pack some plastic baggies. Always have them. They don’t take up much space. And they are invaluable protecting electronics.

The rain vanished within the half hour. But I knew that with the morning’s rain and the rain the night prior, I was going to face some trouble going up Meadows Trail. No matter how much rain comes down (even the slightest) Meadows turns to thick, slippery mud. And it did not disappoint on Saturday. After about .75 of a mile up Meadows, for every five steps I took, I slid back two. It took me double the time to conquer Meadows, and it wasn’t without mishap. When I could, I stuck to the edge and traipsed through the brush. That was not always possible however. On one slide back down, my left leg began sliding, but my right foot had sunk so deeply into the mud that it would not budge. In order put a screech on the slide (else do the splits of something worse like break my leg), I simply plopped my body down into the mud. And there I lay for a moment trying to figure out how to get back up on my feet. With some branch grabbing I succeeded and continued the slow, sticky trip up to the top.


Still quite cold out, the remainder of my run after summiting Meadows trail was stunning. The skies opened up to expose blue. Clouds brightened up a bit and scattered across the sky in a fairy-tale like display of splendor. All ten miles of this run-hike was perfect – the rain, the mud, the big white puffy clouds – all of it, perfect.

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