TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Monday, July 29, 2019

The Way to do Summer Trails

7/24/19 was my last hike for a while because of the weather. It's not a miserable sort of hot on the California coast (yet). But when you're out there hiking on exposed trails, the heat can get to you. Not to mention! There's lots of bees around in these coastal hills. Definitely not a big fan of bees. I like what they do and all, but I've been stung twice so far this summer. I try and ignore them and let them land and take off on me at will. It's when I interfere that I get stung. Anyway, I did not get stung by a bee on my last hike. But there were lots of bees. And there was a young man hiking up Mathis Trail (what a brutal hike in the heat!) who asked me to look at his back to see if he had been stung. Sure enough, there was a bee sting on his back. He didn't look too happy. And who would be -- the hike up Mathis is all uphill and entirely exposed. I, on the other hand, was hiking down Mathis in the middle of the afternoon. It was warm, but again, it wasn't a miserable sort of hot.

West Ridge Trail on the way to Mathis, Santa Ana Mountains in background:



I took my time on this hike because of the heat. I was aiming for about 6 miles, ended up with a little over 7 miles. There were a few people on the ridge. Just one other person on Mathis (the guy who got stung by a bee). And then I had all of Wood Canyon to myself. And I also had all of the climb out (Cholla Trail) to myself. It was a beautiful day. Having no time constraints made this trek utterly enjoyable. I freely stopped to take in views and cool down in the shade. That's the way to do summer trails. 

7.17 miles, 1,171' of elevation gain. From Alta Laguna Park in Laguna Beach: West Ridge / Mathis / Wood Canyon / Cholla Trail / West Ridge

The view from a hidden rock formation on Mathis Trail:
Wood Canyon:

There is where my heart is (hint: those mountains in the background. It's just too darn hot for me there right now).

Friday, July 26, 2019

Harbor Runs

The days have been warming up. It's not quite the hottest part of summer yet on the coast. But we are inching closer. Just a mile or two inland the temperatures are in the high 80s (F), and a mere five miles in, you're looking at the 90s. But here on the coast, we've got high 70s and low 80s still in the third week of July. Certainly not too hot for short harbor runs.

It still is not fun. 😣

2.75 mile run along bridge and harbor island (7/20/19):




 3.5 mile run through Doheny and campgrounds, the jetty, wharf and marina (7/22/19):

Monday, July 22, 2019

Arroyo Trabuco

July 18, the day after my day off from three in a row (two short runs, then a hike), I knew I needed to get back out and run if I wanted to eventually latch onto that wonderful thing called momentum. HOWEVER, I absolutely did not want to do this. I had already had a full day and was not at all in the mood to run. It is kind of discouraging when you're starting over. And so therefore, I waited until the very last possible minute to run and get it in before dark. At about 7:30 pm, I drove down to the Marine Institute and ran 2.51 miles in the Dana Point Harbor. I did not like it. Except at the end. When it was over. I liked it.


The next day (July 19, it was a Friday), I wanted a nice long hike, something easy, something relatively flat, and something long. Best place for that was Arroyo Trabuco Trail. I chose a 12ish mile out-and-back with a turnaround point in O'Neill Park (lovely!). I hit the trails at about 1pm, so undoubtedly, it was warm. But I got lots of shade (which is the reason that I chose Arroyo Trabuco in the first place). I saw very few people on the trail. I also saw two bull dozers from it appeared the fire department plowing the trail.  For the most part, the hike was uneventful, just easy going and in the NOW. The most eventful moment was when bushwhacking on Tijeras Trail, as I stood in the middle of a field after having lost the the single track trail, something ran past me and brushed into my leg. That something was little, I was thinking little like a mouse, but I really have no idea because as soon as I felt it, I ran. 

Best 12.86 miles in a long time! 












Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Foot In Front Of The Other

Tuesday (July 16) I hit the trails pretty late in Laguna Beach.I can do this (despite the heat) because when I'm hiking, it seems like I can pretty much take any temperature, especially if I take time to cool down in the shaded areas. 

June Gloom is definitely gone (for the most part). We may be socked in during most mornings but that all burns off by afternoon on the Southern California Coast. Nowadays, I'm rarely on the trails, unless it's afternoon. Naturally, it was hot on Tuesday, but still, we haven't seen real heat around here for a while. I'm betting the temperature in the coastal hills was at most 85 degrees Fahrenheit (but it was probably a few degrees less). It can definately get much hotter.

I decided to go down Car Wreck Trail, which is quite steep and rocky.  My legs felt a little tight still from the prior two days of back-to-back short runs. Car Wreck Trail, even going down, was strenuous but it had breath taking views. And near the bottom, about where the car wreck is, the trail get's cool and shady. As you may know, shade is very important. Shade is the reason that I decided not to take up Mathis up out of the canyon. I opted instead for Rock It -- eventhough Rock It is probably more difficult than Mathis, there's little bits of shade! Wonderful shade.

Going down Car Wreck Trail




After a leisurely yet focused hike down Car Wreck Trail, I took Mathis to Coyote Run. Winding in and out from Wood Creek, there was plenty of shade on the trail. Not surprisingly, I didn't see anyone on foot. Most people in the middle of the afternoon opted for sandy beaches just over the hill. 

And then of course, I hiked up Rock It to West Ridge. One foot in front of the other is how I conquered that trail. Just like in life, one foot in front of the other. In all that strategy closed up a 6.19 mile lollipop loop with a elevation gain of 1,191. Much needed.

Coyote Run Trail

Rock It:

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Starting Over (Almost)

Nothing like the feeling of starting over. It's tough to kick start the road back. A few days ago, I did back to back runs, 2.5 miles both days down at the marina. The start was rough, but once I got into the groove, it went well. It took me about a half mile into the run before I got my breathing right. Mentally, I feel like a rookie. But my body rembers running, so it's not like I am completely starting over. 

I want to get back into running shape but running is so different than hiking (though with trail running, there's plenty of hiking too). Instead of running just here and there on the trails, I'd like to get back to running most of the time on the trails. That seems REALLY far away fitness-wise. And truthfully, I'm not confident that I can get there. But the lure is strong. There's nothing like putting in 20, 30 miles on dirt trails. Sure, it's just as fun hiking, but gosh, it makes a long trip already longer, and it's really hard to find that much time. I have gone on 30 mile runs, but I have not hiked 30 miles. Sure, 30 mile runs take some time, perhaps 9 hours for me, give or take. But hiking those 30 miles could take 12 to 15 hours.

The first of my back to backs (July 14), I ran the pavement in the first map below, totalling 2.5 miles during the evening. Once I got my breathing down, everything was fine. Overall though, it was uncomfortable. But since I'm basically starting over (but not for the first time in my life!) I know that I just have to force it a certain number of times, and then I will be hooked. Just like when I started smoking cigarettes when I was a teen. The first few smokes were horrible. Really. Just horrible. Probably the first dozen were horrible. It was so long ago I don't exactly remember. But I do remember that running was just the same. I had to force it for a long time the first time I started running (when I was 15 or so) and then again the second time I started running (when I was 37 or so) and then the third time (after the birth of my youngest son when I was 40 or so). I know it can be done. And so, knowing that it will be miserable for a while, I hit the pavement in the second map below on the next day (July 15). I put if off until the very last thing of the day (about 7 pm) because I really didn't want to do it. But I forced myself. My thighs were slightly sore but it was good. 



Monday, July 15, 2019

Goats at Top of the World!

Even though I love wandering about on trails and even though it is pretty much my medicine, nowadays I struggle with pushing myself out the front door. For many years this was not the case. I didn't relate to discussions on how to stay motivated. I was driven to wake early and put in hard miles several days a week. Of course, times were different then. I didn't work as much first off. And I was younger and less beaten down.

July 10, I believe it was, I took a mid afternoon hike in Aliso/Wood Canyons Wilderness. I had planned on 9 or 9.5 miles. I took a detour to Dripping Cave and meandered about elsewhere. I ended up with 11.53 miles with a moderate gain (1,500+ feet). About 3 miles in, I checked my email. That was a big mistake. Some disappointing news on the job front. This of course gave a whole new meaning to my hike. Good thing I chose (coincidentally) to hike up Meadows Trail. That's a darn good suffering trail there. Believe me, there's no better remedy for suffering than to climb a tough hill, in the heat. 

My route: Wood Canyon to Meadows Trail, Top of the World, West Ridge, Cholla, Wood Canyon. It was beautiful. It was therapeutic. As I mentioned already, I visited Dripping Cave, but what I didn't mention was that right after leaving the cave, a deer bolted across my path. That was exhilerating because she was loud and forceful. And she was gone in an instant.

Wood Canyon

Meadows Trail 


So, no matter how tough things may seem, it seems that I never wish that I didn't take that hike, or I didn't take that run, or that swim, or even that gym workout. This hike, despite my mood, was the best. And then I got these! These lovely goats at the Top of the World. 😊

 Goats at Top of the World!


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Maple Springs Road

Saturday, July 6, I headed out the door at about 9:30 am for a Maple Springs hike. The night before, I had calculated that I needed 6 hours for this hike: 1 hour drive each way, plus hiking 2 miles per hour (which is quite slow -- I do more like 3 per hour, sometimes more) for 8 miles adds another 4 hours. 

I always get so many things wrong when I estimate time! It's somewhat amusing -- I think it's becoming my trademark. So, the drive to Silverado is an hour. But there's still more to drive. It takes an additional 30 minutes to get to where Maple Springs Road becomes a dirt road.  Boom -- there's an extra hour added to my 6 hour trip. No problem, I thought, I'll just make sure I march a little faster.

Eventhough we're into the first week of July, and June Gloom has pretty much left us, the weather was still bearable for me in Silverado Canyon. Yes, it was warm, but not quite hot. The gnats were out, and so were the horseflies and bees. But there was a soothing coolish breeze here and there that made everything all right. 



I didn't see any hikers or runners along the way. Other than the few mountain bikers that I saw, everyone else on the mountain was driving. There were quite a few motorcyclists, and there were others in trucks and jeeps. The road wasn't exactly crowded, and there were extended periods of no one in sight. But I would say that the mountain was more travelled than most times I've headed up Maple Springs Road. I even saw a K-9 police suburban drive by. I had not seen that before. 

About a mile shy of Four Corners I stopped to do something with my pack -- I don't recall exactly because at that point I swatted away what I thought was a horsefly on the inside of my arm. That was a mistake because it wasn't a horsefly but instead a bee, and it stung me. She gave me a good stab for sure. And right about that time exacty, my oldest son phoned. I of course answered and as we chatted on the side of the mountain two trucks slowed to a stop next to me and the female passenger yelled out the window about how studly and tremendous she thought I was for hiking that far up. 

Wishes!



I made it to Four Corners in pretty good time. The four corners are: North Main Divide, South Main Divide, Harding Truck Trail and Maple Springs Road. I wandered about Four Corners for quite some time, but that only mattered because the trip up took 5 miles instead of the 4 that I had calculated to come up with my 6 hour adventure. Well, I pretty much chucked that timing out the window when I saw the mileage (remember I also miscalculated the drive!) Therefore, I was able to enjoy myself, taking in views of San Bernardino and Orange Counties without any time constraints.



On the way down Maple Springs Road I began picking up aluminum cans, smashing them and putting them into my pack. It is a shame the amount of trash I see along Maple Springs Road. It's not exacty "trashed", but there's cans here and there and fastfood softdrink cups, etc. It's not difficult at all to pack your trash out. I cannot understand why everyone doesn't pack it out. Sometimes it seems as if they just chuck it out their car windows. 😕

With about a mile remaining, I stepped off the road to visit the ladies room. On my way back to the road I noticed a can in the brush. So, I made my way over to that location, which was off the road still, but down a little out of view from the road. Anyway, I decided not to reach for the can because I'd need to do some bushwhacking and I wasn't much in the mood for bushwhacking. At about that point I noticed a heavy duty, industrial type blanket a couple of feet away. I also immediately noticed a bad odor. An animal decomposing kind of odor with hundreds of flies swarming above the blanket. Well! This could be suspicious. There was no way that I was going to check beneath that blanket. And it seemed like there could have been something beneath the blanket, or it could have just been folds. Did it seem like a body?  No, I don't think so, but perhaps an animal. 

So, that was on my mind for the remainder of this hike, which good thing was over soon. My plan was to check in with the Maple Springs Visitor's center, and if that wasn't open, I'd call the Trabuco Ranger District when I had cell service. I talked a while with the guy working the visitor's center. He said that I wouldn't believe the things that people dump out there. He knew the exact location that I was speaking of (because I knew the exact location I was speaking of). And he said further that he would call to have someone check the blanket out when he had cell service after leaving the canyon. That's all I know about that. It may have been nothing. It seemed supicious. More suspicious than not. Should I have lifted the blanket (with a stick or something) to see what was beneath it? Honestly, just in case it was something terrible, I didn't want to be traumatized. And if it wasn't terrible, it still may have been gross. 

More Wishes!


Turns out, I was only thirty minutes past my 6 hour prediction. Total miles: 10. I didn't get any other stats because it appears that I accidentally deleted the data. I hope that's what happened anyway. Otherwise, I'll have to figure out something software or hardware related again. 😅

I love Maple Springs Road. This however, will probably be the last time I venture up that switchback until the weather cools down. I predict, mid to late fall. Until then, there will be other trails, other places. 😊

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Flip Flops are Not Shoes


Today, the day before our 4th of July holiday (Independence Day), I taught my last class of summer school. I will not teach again until August 19, 11:00 am. It was therefore a melancholy day. I don’t do well without structure, and I have lots to get done. My woe was in anticipation of this fact. I get down when I come short of goals. And even though I haven’t really fallen short yet this summer, I know that there’s still time to waste it all away.

I took a detour on the way home from work and drove up to Peter’s Canyon just to check it out. Wasn’t sure if I could find the place -- it’s been that long. I ended up exactly where I always entered the canyon park. I didn’t hike. I merely drove about. Also didn’t see any evidence of the burn from a few years back. But I did see lots of dry brown grass. It’s summertime in Southern California, especially in the mountains and foothills.

With all my detours on the last day of summer school, I finally arrived back home at about 1:30 pm. Pretty quickly, I changed into shorts, a tie-die shirt and some flip flops (aghast!) and headed out the door. I had a vague plan of catching the Dana Point Trolley into San Clemente to find out where that would lead. It would have been wise to look at a map or anything related to this trip. But nah, where then would be the adventure?

I should have never left the house in flip-flops. I really do know better than that. But the whole trip was on a whim. I envisioned myself on a lackadaisical trip from trolley to trolley along the coast. I didn’t need the flipping security of real shoes. My first mishap on this adventure was that I could not find a nearby southbound trolley stop. I wrongly assumed (because I was either remembering other years or the bus route) that there was a stop just a couple blocks from my front door. So, feeling completely inadequate and flimsy in my flip flops I walked until I found a stop going in the right direction -- it was just outside the harbor, a little more than a half mile from my home. But in my waiting, I realized by studying the map at the stop that I could backtrack up the hill and meet a trolley (because I hate waiting, I’d rather walk to another stop to decrease waiting time). According to my husband who was using a trolley tracking app and texting me, I had time to make it to that stop about a quarter mile away. Thing is, I didn’t count on how difficult it would be to march up that hill in flip-flops. And sure enough, half way up, I saw the trolley turn the corner, stop at MY stop and then leave, travelling back down the hill toward the harbor and past me! Understandbly, the thought of missing this trolley and waiting another twenty minutes prompted me to haul ass down Golden Lantern in flip flops to catch that trolley. I took off running at my top speed, awkward flimsy flip flops and all. Turns out I can still run when I need to, even in flip-flops. And can you believe it? I caught the dang trolley. In the knick of time! It made a left turn right in front of me, and I had to jay-walk (I mean jay-run) across the crosswalk to make it to the trolley in time.

Dana Point Trolley: 

I will never ever leave the house again wearing flip-flops. These are not shoes to be worn about town -- these are shower shoes to wear at the gym, or beach shoes to shuffle across the sand when it is burning hot. In fact, these are not shoes at all. What was I thinking? I’m lucky I’m alive after sprinting down Golden Lantern in flip flops!

As they say, “All’s well that ends well.” I caught that trolley, and it was lovely with a cool ocean breeze blowing through my hair as we made our way down the coast. I was hoping to catch the San Clemente trolley (which Doh! I didn’t know at the time that the San Clemente trolley does not begin running for another five days!) With San Clemente in mind, I rode he Dana Point trolley to its southernmost stop without realizing that I was at the turnaround point. Before I knew it, I was heading north, back into downtown Dana Point. It is wise to read a map before heading off, whether it’s by foot or mass transit. But then again, as I mentioned above, where is the adventure in that?

Once I realized that I had missed the Dana Point / San Clemente transfer spot, I disembarked on Paciffic Coast Highway in hopes of crossing to catch another southbound trolley to head back to the San Clemente transfer stop (remember, I didn’t realize that the San Clemente system wasn’t even running). Upon stepping off I saw a southbound trolley idling across the highway. Today didn’t seem like a good day to die so I didn’t  dare try and run across all five lanes of traffic. But the longer that I hesitated, the more I felt that I had a chance to make it across in time via the pedestrian bridge. And so, I ran off to the bridge and bolted up three flights of stairs, my flip flops threatening to fly off with each step. I passed a man with a dog along the way and he reminded me that there was an elevator. But I wasn’t going to wait for no stinking elevator. I passed the man with his dog again as I ran across the bridge (for they had taken the elevator). I could see down onto the highway that the trolley was still idling in the bus lane. I had no time to waste. And so, on the other side of the bridge, I hit the elevator button. And as I waited for the slowest elevator in the world, the man and his dog passed me again. As he headed down the stairs he said, “Let’s see who gets there first.”

I don’t know why I hate waiting. Gosh, I actually contemplated jaywalking (rather jayrunning in flip flops!) across the highway to avoid the possibility of having to wait for another trolley. And now here I was standing in front of an elevator because I thought I’d get to the street faster. But the more seconds that passed, the more I thought that I should have just run down the 3 flights of steps, I’d be there by now. When the slowest elevator in the world finally did arrive it took another thirty seconds (at least!) to open its doors. The wonderment of this elevator's immensely sluggish speed does not stop here. The ride down was ridiculous -- I mean, what was powering this elevator? Double A batteries!?!!. Okay then, it was time for me to accept that I was going to miss my ride. When the elevator doors finally inched open (really, it was unbelievably slow) I bolted out (in flip flops again saying, I don't think so!) and sprinted to the trolley which to my surprise was still idling in the bus lane. I didn’t see the man and his dog. He probably made it down first and was long gone.

Capistrano Beach:

There I was again on another lovely joy ride (except I wasn’t driving) southbound along the coast with the ocean breeze blowing in my hair. I was the only person on this trolley, which is a little awkward for me, but I’m old enough that awkward doesn’t phase me much anymore. I can do awkward. The trolley driver told me that she didn’t think that the San Clemente trolleys were running yet. What? July 3, the day before the 4th of July along the California Riveria, trolley not running? I looked it up on my phone, and sure enough, the San Clemente trolley doesn’t start running until July 8. 

And so, I disembarked at Capistrano Beach. I took a stroll along Capistrano Beach and headed down through Doheny Beach. I crossed the highway at a caged pedestrian bridge and hopped on the next northbound trolley which took me more into Capistrano Beach and up to the high school. I stayed on that northbound trolley for several more stops until disembarking at the edge of the city at The Ritz Carlton Hotel.

I took a seat on the Laguna Beach trolley around 3:30pm. I had not eaten all day, which is normal. I usually eat my first meal nowadays at about 4:00. I was beginning to think about purchasing lunch. I was also beginning to think that it would have been a good idea to bring my shawl (I had thought about it, but then hesitated and dropped the idea back at home). The ride was chilly up the coast, and the sights were delightful. I have driven these streets countless times. But I’m focused when I drive them. I don’t really get a chance to look at the store fronts, architecture, interesting themes and overall people bustling about from all parts of the world.


I rode the trolley for a few miles before disembarking in South Laguna where I purchased a diet coke from a drugstore. And then I walked another quarter mile up Pacific Coast Highway to Ruby's Diner for lunch. I had a sandwich called BLT&A, which is bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado, except, I ordered mine minus the tomato. I didn't spend much time there, plus I wanted to venture forward quickly becasue time was passing Outside of Ruby’s I couldn’t stand the trolley wait, so I began marching up the highway onward to more northern trolley stops. I walked a mile or more along Pacific Coast Highway until I finally caught a trolley. Somewhere in there, I hit a patch of slippery mud and nearly killed myself on the sidewalk somewhere down in Laguna Beach. Don't know how I managed to stay upright.




The turnaround point of my last day of summer school adventure in flip flops was at the bus depot in Laguna Canyon. Being that another trolley didn't come around and I had no idea when one might, I headed into Laguna Beach by foot and south on PCH enjoying all of the sights and sounds of Main Beach. And then I saw the trolley coming up behind me, then pass me, and I once again was off running in my flip flops to catch it, which I did. I rode the coast several miles into Dana Point with the lovely wind once again blowing in my hair. I caught the Dana Point Trolley back at the Ritz and rode that into The Lantern Village where I disembarked and walked home. 

And there you have it, an ordinary adventure in the ordinary life and day of a fifty something year old who suffers from wanderlust.