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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Free Association (The Rock)

IMG_3277Got out for another evening hike on the first of July, 2020. It’s summer now, so if I can’t wake at the crack of dawn to hit the dirt early, it’s best to go ahead and get some work done and head out in the afternoon to take in those cooler evening hours.

July 1st, it was a repeat of The Big Loop @ Aliso/Woods Canyons (of course it was!). I took it counter-clockwise, as I do lately. That meant taking a gradual climb through the canyon. It was hot, but mainly due to the mugginess. And it was beautiful with lots of shade and flower color dotting the trail. The word that describes it best is “tranquil”.

There weren’t many people out at all. It was one of our warmer days, and not to mention just a few days out from a holiday weekend (the 4th of July!).



I kind of just mindlessly meandered through Wood Canyon, often carrying a mental load, then in the next second tossing it aside. I sometimes liken hiking through the wilderness to Sigmund Freud’s (the “father of psychoanalysis”) process of “Free Association”.  With this process there is no linear thought pattern, you just go and see it were it leads you.

So, there I was, just Free Associating away in Wood Canyon and that lead me to the rock. I just caught a glimpse of it – it’s over past Lynx Trail, off to the left, kind of rising up from the trail. How many times have I passed by past that rock? I cannot tell you (I’ve been roaming Wood Canyon for more than a decade, about 13 years, so the answer is in the three digits). One time I walked past it with my three boys when they were all pretty young. We took a hike on Wood Creek Trail that day and we stopped at that rock on the way where my husband snapped a picture of us. This is the picture that flashed before my eyes walking through Wood Canyon on July 1st, 2020:


This memory took my breath away. I had to stop and climb to the top of this rock. And there I sat behind my dark sunglasses and sobbed for a while. I sobbed because it hit me with that memory that their childhood is finished. It is over and it went way too fast. The rest of the hike was quite mournful because of that. I would Free Associate out of my mournful state only to find myself there once again.

After the canyon, I had some good climbing to do and that is always a good thing when I am troubled. I caught the tail end of a rattler on West Ridge and awesome views of the Pacific Ocean before descending down Meadows Trail back into Aliso Canyon. I finished up when the sun was beginning to set on the horizon and the weather was oh so cool. The lighting was beautiful, dark in the shade, and vibrant out in the sun..

Another wonderful summer evening hike in the coastal hills Free Associating ~







Sunday, July 5, 2020

Warner Springs

Saturday, June 27, I got the pleasure of driving my youngest son out to Warner Springs, California (about 95 miles southeast of Dana Point) for a sleepover at his friend’s house for his 15th birthday. His friend lives out on a ranch there with his parents, friends of ours since the two boys met in kindergarten (10+ years ago!). Warner Springs is a lovely area approximately 40 minutes out of Temecula, the last town on the way out. After Temecula it’s beautiful windy roads through mountainous terrain that’s dotted with giant boulders and Oak trees. There’s of course, plenty of trails, in and out of private, national forest and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lands.

So, first things first, we got the weekend off to a fine evening with the nice cooling weather and a delightful hike (they know how to treat us right!). Views go on for miles up there. While I did think to bring my trail shoes on this trip, I didn’t think to bring my sports watch to measure this hike. I’m guessing it was between two and three miles, a perfect way to wind down the evening after a long drive. 

IMG_3164IMG_3170IMG_3173IMG_3185IMG_3190IMG_3192IMG_3194IMG_3197IMG_3201Me & My Youngest BoyIMG_3205IMG_3206IMG_3208Back on the RanchIMG_3226

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Evening Time is Best

IMG_3070Friday, June 26, I headed out for another evening hike. I am really liking the long evening hike thing. Instead of ending my hike with warm (or hot)  weather, with the evening hike, I start the hike with warm weather to end with deliciously cool weather. And the wilderness is so much more active in the evening. Little critters, squirrels and rabbits scurry about the trail. And deer come out to feed on the meadow grass. Perhaps the best thing is the sky’s colors changing before my eyes. They start off light blue (if I’m lucky), turn to pink, then orange, then dark purple or midnight blue if I’m out late enough. 

On Friday I took Aliso Canyon into Wood Canyon as usual. My first change-up to the usual routine was to take a detour to Dripping Cave. It was a nice reprieve from the afternoon heat (it was probably about 3:30 pm by then). I have always enjoyed the cave and being that practically no one hikes at 3:30 in the afternoon during the summertime, I was able to bask in the cave’s coolness absolutely alone. I spent  good amount of time sitting around here. A perfect place for some solitude.

Dripping Cave (AKA: Robber’s Cave)IMG_3083


After Dripping Cave, I lackadaisically made my way up Wood Canyon, keeping on my usual route for The Big Loop. Wood Creek was still flowing pretty well. There were 2 more places that I crossed over after leaving Dripping Cave.  I didn’t come upon very many people, only a couple of bikers. And I came upon these 3 deer in one of the meadows along the way.


I continued on with my usual route, up Cholla Trail to West Ridge. From West Ridge I had a nice view of The Saddleback Mountains and a cool breeze. It was probably coming up on 5 pm by now, a glorious time to be on the trails. So lovely were the trails that I decided to change it up again and not leave the park at Top of The World. Instead, I headed down Rock-It Trail. From there I took Coyote Run for a magical hike through an enchanted forested fairyland. Finally, Coyote Run dumped me out at Mathis, where I crossed Wood Creek once more to close up the loop of this Cholla/Rock-It lollipop loop.I came in around 7pm, well before the dark purple skies.

Saddleback Mountains from West RidgeIMG_3118


Coyote Run TrailIMG_3137





11.2 miles, 1,044’ elevation gainCapture  Capture1

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Santiago Truck Trail in the Summertime

Wednesday, June 24, I got out for a hike with my middle son who is heading off to college in late August. Great times for me right now getting to hike with my boy. We took this hike along Santiago Truck Trail out the the flags and back darn near the hottest time of the day. Our feet hit dirt after 11 am and we didn’t get back to the truck until about 2:30 pm. Fortunately, the temperatures didn’t climb too high (low 80s Fahrenheit).

It’s still lovely here in the Santa Ana Mountains, still even looks like spring a bit.











Friday, June 26, 2020

Cool Down Hours

Last Monday (June 22), I headed out to Las Flores for a hike along the Great Suburban Trail – Arroyo Trabuco. This wonderful suburban trail, if you’ve ever been to this blog before, you know that it stretches from San Juan Capistrano to Trabuco Canyon (O’Neill Park). Of course I didn’t make the entire trek –I parked in the lot of a small local park and headed out down Antonio Parkway at 2:30 pm to take a bike path for a bit and then a turn onto Tijeras Creek Trail. After crossing Tijeras Creek, which was pretty dang full for dry Southern California in the early summer (see here), I headed up toward Arroyo Trabuco Trail. Oh, the joy of my feet hitting dirt!

It was definitely hot out there, but it can get much hotter. Those trails can see 105 Fahrenheit. I’ve been on them when they’ve been that hot (& I don’t ever intend to again!) On Monday’s hike, the temperature began in the low 80s, and fell from there (I’m guessing to about 75 or less at the end of my hike). Living on the coast (and we’re in June gloom, which means socked in days) 80s in the sunshine is hot for me. But I know how to handle hot. Years of training. The key is this: don’t ever get overheated – take time to cool down! I bet you thought that I would say that the key is to stay hydrated. Hydration is good, yes, but hydration doesn’t prevent sun stroke (or even at the minimum heat exhaustion).

Heading Down Tijeras Creek Trail


Crossing Tijeras Creek

IMG_2891 (2)

IMG_2907The creeks were flowing indeed, which is super lovely in the summertime, especially when hiking during the cool down hours. There weren’t many others on the trail this time of day. In fact, I recall seeing only cyclists, except in O’Neill park were there were people strolling about the meadows. Arroyo Trabuco Creek was flowing as well, and there were some spring flowers still in bloom. Spring is longer this year thanks many days of rain well into April and even May. Smile






In all, I lackadaisically hiked about 12.5 miles with minimal elevation gain (750’). The absolutely delightful thing about taking a hike into the evening hours is the noises. The wilderness comes alive. The birds amp up their singing, frogs croak at the creek side. There’s all sorts of rustling going on along the trail. It’s exhilarating!  With just about a half mile left to the bike trail near Antonio Pkwy, I got spooked from all the noises, and hurried off, feeling relieved when my feet finally hit the asphalt. (I also felt comfort by the sudden presence of other people about taking their dogs out for a walk in the last hour before sunset.)

A wonderful hike!

And now I know what I need to do, especially since the evening is so lovely. Screw trying to wake early when it’s just not in me right now. Sleep in til 7:30 or  8 am, then mosey around the house with coffee in hand, do some gardening, some chores, some work . . . And then wander aimlessly on trails in the afternoon to take in the exhilarating cool down hours.

Marching Back Up Tijeras Creek Trail