Saturday, February 18, 2023

Moving into Spring

Winter time in Southern California is not very wintery. Sure there’s snow on the mountains, some mountains, not my mountains. But here on the coast, I’d say we’ve moved right into spring 2023.

4 miles in the local hills:


Friday, February 10, 2023

Why I Love the Rain

20230204_090516We got quite a few days of solid rain recently. We even saw snow in our local mountains (which summits at about 5,400’). I love the rain. It wakes us in the middle of the night in our little  beach shack. And it soothes us with the sound of raindrops on the skylights throughout the day. They say it never rains in Southern California. But I know the truth. I’ve lived here more than 57 years. I know that it rains. You just have to have patience and wait. And the rain comes in abundance. I recall as a child in the 1970s, sitting at the kitchen table looking out onto the flooded streets, wondering if it was ever going to stop raining!

I’m still a bus commuter, and the rain didn’t bother me in the least. I’ve got a couple of good pairs of boots, warm coats, an umbrella and an awesome backpack for the trip. But best of all with the rain, the hills and mountains are covered in green, the creeks are flowing and the falls are falling. I don’t mind getting my feet wet one bit.

This past Friday, a few days after the rain stopped (and it has not since returned), my husband and I headed up Ortega Highway (Hwy 74) for a lovely, ten mile, technical hike to Chiquito (Aka Chiquita) Falls. The creeks were strong and the falls flowing. It was an awesome hike. Lots of boulders to climb over, and erosion crevices to maneuver. The skies were blue and the views far. The return was quite difficult because I was so dang tired. Much of the return is downhill, except for the climbing out from the falls and the last leg, San Juan Loop, which climbs back up into the parking lot across the street from The Ortega Oaks Candy Store. I felt wiped out (not quite trashed) on that final stretch.

San Juan Loop:20230204_093458 IMG_1170

Heading up Chiquito Trail:20230204_10330320230204_103357Chiquito Falls:20230204_123815 IMG_1164IMG_1187IMG_1197IMG_1162

Along last leg of the trip, on San Juan LoopIMG_1227

Ten tough miles. Afterwards, we ran across Highway 74 to The Candy Store. My eyes teared up as I crossed the threshold. It’s been a while. I purchased a nice cold carbonated soda and a couple pieces of fudge for my youngest son back at home. Felt good to be back.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Mercy Hike


My husband knows when I need to get out and wander. Years ago, he used to plead with me to get out and hit the trails (on my lazy days that is – otherwise I was driving on the road before sunrise). Now that I am without wheels, hitting the trails is difficult. It’s always somewhat difficult but now, almost impossible because I just cannot take the only car we have right now and head off to the mountains. It doesn’t seem fair. In fact, it seems selfish. I don’t want to be selfish.

This past Thursday, I mumbled something about trying to get out the next day for a hike. My husband jumped at the idea and offered to come along. Usually, I do the asking. But he offered. So, the last Friday in January (1/27), we headed out the door at about 9:30 am for a nice long stroll along The Great Suburban Trail, known by everyone else as Arroyo Trabuco Trail. After a 20 minute commute, we parked in the lot of a small Las Flores park. Then we crossed Antonio Parkway and caught a trail that took us behind a planned community where we hiked down a steep service road to Tijeras Creek Trail for a 12+ mile stroll to O’Neill Park and back.

The Green of a Southern California winter surrounded us. Chartreuse colored carpets of grass filled the meadows, clumps of green mistletoe hung from giant sycamores. Tijeras and Arroyo Trabuco were both flowing nicely, in addition to multiple tributaries meandering throughout the basin. Scrambling through the brush, we couldn’t find a place to cross Tijeras Creek, so for the first creek crossing, I removed my shoes and socks and waded through the ice cold water over hard slippery rocks. Well, that was enough of that. There were just too many crossings to do this every time.

Tijeras Creek Crossing:IMG_1093

Near Tijeras Creek & Arroyo Trabuco Creek Junction:IMG_1096

Felt so good to get out and get my legs moving. I didn’t mind the wet feet. I even packed a spare pair of socks that I didn’t change into. I admit, I was a little tired on the return. But I like that feeling – it’s familiar, and it’s rewarding. I often use the words “trashed” or “thrashed” to describe that feeling of really overworking the body. Well, I didn’t get trashed on this adventure. But it was close. Toward the end,  I was beginning to feel it in my hamstrings and quads. (Hurts so good!)

Back at home, I thanked my husband for my mercy hike.

He asked, “Is that what that was?”


“ Well, I sometimes have you do things you don’t really want to do.”


More of the Great Suburban Trail:IMG_1107 IMG_1124IMG_1128IMG_1131IMG_1133IMG_1137IMG_1139

A little over 12.5 miles

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Historic Hike–Abandoned Old West, Antimony Mines, Southern Utah (1991)

Though I’ve always been a wanderer (I wandered away from my Dad when I was 3 years old and found by the fire department!), I haven’t always catalogued my journeys with written words. But I have however along the way, taken photos, lots of them. I recorded no distances, not even exact dates – just pictures. Most of these photos are boxed up in the garage. Handpicked specimens sit in photo albums that have long since sat on the highest, unreachable shelf in my office.

I decided look pull one of those books down recently and so much enjoyed reliving a few hikes, that I want to chronical them here and there with the words. The photos are old, faded and discolored a great deal – what a difference a few decades make. The memories fortunately are still clear (for now). Today’s historic hike goes back to the summer of 1991, most likely early summer. We usually travelled to Utah in the early summer. At times there was still snow on the ground. So, let’s go with June 1991. This was the Dixie National Forest, several hours from any major city, the closest being Cedar City, which isn’t really that large.

We had pitched a couple tents alongside a creek, as we always did, and made that our base camp while we ventured out in different directions during the day. On this day in June, my husband, his sister and her husband and I set out to climb to abandoned mines in the cliffs that we could see from camp. Being that we knew the area fairly well (my husband had been coming here since he was a child and myself for nearly a decade), we had long ago read up on the history of the place. This area had been mined in the late 1880s for antimony (also known as stibnite). Occasionally, we came upon ruins and other artifacts like old wooden ladders or run down stone buildings.

The mines were on the other side of a wide fast flowing creek with delightfully ice cold water. Most likely we hopped boulders to make the crossing. We had to be careful to avoid the rampant stinging nettle that lined the banks. From the photos, I see that I’m wearing long denim pants, which means the weather wasn’t too warm. It also means that I didn’t want to get stung by that stinging nettle – I had brushed into those invisible thorns before and knew it’s wrath. I also see from the photos that I was wearing a tank top and bathing suit beneath, which means I probably meant to take a dip in the stream later.

IMG_8444The hike was not very long. The photo shows that I carried only a butt-pack around my waist and it appears some kind of water thermos. My husband also has his camera strapped around his neck, which he wouldn’t have done on a long hike. My guess is two miles to the mines and two miles back.

After crossing the creek, we headed across rocky cactus terrain to the red rocks. From there we found a dirt trail along the cliff that I recall being quite sandy. I worried a bit climbing the slippery trails but looking back, the terrain was relatively tame and the trail was rather wide, just a tad steep. We climbed for a while until we arrived at a ledge that overlooked the canyon. Way down there, we could barely see our two tents tucked beneath the trees, next to the creek. The trek was moderately difficult, never treacherous.


I recall few mines at the location. And as we sat there overlooking the canyon, we could spot other mines in the distance. We did not travel deep into any of them and I remember always leaving someone outside as a precaution if we ventured in a little – like that person on the outside could go get help if we got trapped. You know, they could  run down the rocks, get back to camp, hop in the truck and offroad about twenty minutes, then race down a country road for another ten to arrive at a country store where they could make a phone call. (Ya, I know, it seems a little unsafe in retrospect). But we made it fine, explored really just the surface of the dark tunnels and mostly enjoyed the fine views.