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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Point to Point Hike (San Juan Trail)

It has been much too long since I last hit the trails (8/10/19). Eleven days ago to be precise. And then school happened -- my two youngest boys went back to school, and so did I. It all came like a whirlwind and I am off kilter just a bit. I am back to teaching at one of my schools, and at another beginning next week. Gosh, it all came like a fast. I still feel a little out of sorts. Summer vacation was like a race to me, a race to check things off my list. Well, the end of my summer vacation has ended, and I did get some things done. I so feared that I would not. And I was constantly critical of myself over whether I was doing enough. Well, I didn't get everything done. But I certainly did enough. And the most important things, they got a check mark. 

I'm also back to working on Old Goat races (more about that later), so my last hike was to measure San Juan Trail in it's entirety, from Blue Jay campgrounds down to Hot Springs Canyon. You can bet in the middle of the summer, the only way I was going to do this hike was to do it one way -- the downhill way. 

Early that morning (but not terribly early -- 8:30), I met a friend of mine, Jose, and his neighbor, Pedro, at Hot Springs Canyon Road. We drove into the canyon and parked Jose's car. Then the guys got in my truck and we drove to the top of the mountain and parked in Blue Jay campgrounds before setting out on San Juan Trail. The trail was beautiful with views going for miles and miles, as far as the Pacific Ocean. And can you believe it, we were the only people on them. We had some shade, especially in the first third. But after that, the trail is pretty exposed, and the weather was hot. Hot but bearable. There was a tad of uphill, but overall the 12+ mile trip was technical downhill. The fun stuff!

About five miles down, Jose realized that he had left the keys to his car in my truck. Oops. This was indeed a situation being that it was his car down at the bottom of the mountain that we were going to drive back to my truck. I was not so concerned about this. To me, this was just part of the adventure, and I enjoyed the rest of the trip without a thought to the matter. One thing for sure, I wasn't willing to hike five miles uphill back to my truck. I just trusted the guys would figure something out, and if not there was always my husband or son that I could call (if I could get a signal that is). 

Somewhere in the final switchbacks (look at that lovely pictured below!), Pedro got a cell signal and phoned a friend to meet us at the fire station on Ortega Highway and Hot Springs Canyon Road. We picked up our pace some at that point because we still had quite a ways to travel to the station. I estimate the friend who was driving out to rescue us was about twenty minutes away. We on the other hand were about 2 miles from Jose's car and another mile to the station (which means that our hike was not 12+ miles, it was 13+)

Just about the last tenth of a mile before the bottom of  San Juan Trail, I slipped in the loose dirt on a turn in the trail, and then on my fall, slipped again. I felt like the top half of my body twisted one way, while the bottom half twisted in the other direction. It was quite a jolt. I recall Pedro rushing in to help me up but I just couldn't really focus at the moment. It's like I had to take a moment to process the pain, accept it and then finally get up and get going. Once I did that, I just had to pretend and ignore the pain until I got home and could deal with it. I should point out that I was confident that my injuries were not serious, no broken bones or anything like that. At the worst, I felt I could have torn some tendons in my foot, as the twist and subsequent feeling in my foot felt very similar to the time I tore tendons in my foot on West Horsethief Trail. 

Every hike or run is an adventure, isn't it? Pedro's friend was waiting for us at the station. I drove up the mountain with him, leaving the other two behind because his truck had only two seats. I wish that I remembered his name because he is definitely worth mentioning. What a good friend he was to Pedro. He told me, and I could tell that he was uncomfortable driving up that windy mountain road. I believe he said that it had been 15 years since he had driven up Ortega. I didn't blame him. I used to be scared to death of driving to the top of the mountain (I'm still a tiny bit scared). Anyway, Pedro's friend spoke little English, and I spoke even littlier Spanish, so our communication was challenging. He had no idea what he was in for, and yet he did it with a friendly smile. He got me back safely to my truck. And we both drove back down to the fire station on Ortega Highway and Hot Springs Canyon Road to meet up with the other guys.

It really was a lovely hike. San Juan Trail is challenging, even on the downhill. I was sore for a few days after my fall. When I dress for work now, I make sure that my dress covers my knees so that the scab doesn't show. It is healing up quickly now though. And the scrapes on my arms are barely noticeable. 

All's well that ends well. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Three Bobcats in Wood Canyon

August 8, I went for an 8.10 mile hike during the afternoon in Wood Canyon. I didn't do anything strenuous because it was afternoon and it was August. And I kept to Wood Canyon and all of the little mostly shady trails that spawn from it (Wood Creek, Coyote Run, Dripping Cave, Cave Rock). All those side trails are wonderful -- they're so fairytale-like and they aren't travelled much (and not at all in the middle of the afternoon during the summer). These side trails are hidden gems in that canyon. But Wood Canyon alone can present itself delightfully too, as it did on this day. 

Wood Creek Trail

Coyote Run Trail

Cave Rock Trail

Dripping Cave

I hiked Meadow Creek and Coyote run on the way out and caught Cave Rock (where I meandered) and and Dripping Cave (where I meandered as well) on the back portion of this canyon hike. Shortly after Dripping Cave I came upon 3 bobcats on Wood Canyon Trail -- 1 adult and 2 cubs. They froze in the middle of the road when they saw me. And then the adult and one cub abruptly ran into the brush on the left. I fumbled for my camera to catch what I could. Just then, another hiker (the only other person that I saw all day in Wood Canyon) came from the other direction. Now sandwiched in on each side by humans, the remaining cub ran off into the brush, but on the right, where he was now separated from his mama and sibling. 

I chatted a bit with the other hiker. He said that he thought he had seen two adults and one cub. I'm pretty confident that I saw the two cubs and that there was only one adult. But hey, you never know how your eyes might deceive you. Anyway, after the other hiker took off in the opposite direction, I waited quietly at the side of the road with my camera ready. It knew it would be only a matter of time when the cub popped back into the road to find his mama.

Sure enough, the cub stepped out into the road. He saw me again and froze and so I was able to zoom in and catch a few pictures with my cheap little hiking/running camera (It's an Elph). 

This is Mama running off into the brush 
And here is the cub who runs off in the opposite direction
I was so lucky to see him again when he came back out onto the trail!

After that wonderful sighting, I meandered up Wood Canyon in scenes like the ones below. It was darn hot that's for sure. But I had lots of glorious shade and time in the Now.