Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Long View Trail

I’m still laying low because of my leg (but that’s really an excuse because there’s other things stopping me from progressing, mainly myself!). Anyway, my calf is still rather tight and I’m a little (I mean a lot) fearful of doing any significant stretches. I will put it on my “To-Do List” today.

This past Sunday I was able to get in a pain free short hike – less than a week after my last hike. Progress! In search of short distances to let the calf heal, I headed to the hills in Laguna Niguel (just up Golden Lantern, about a five minute drive from my house). Though I’ve lived in this area for decades now, I’ve done very little exploring of Laguna Niguel’s trails. Why? Because I don’t need to with so many wonderful trails in OC. Being on the mend though, it was a perfect opportunity to do a little exploring. I miss exploring.

IMG_9738I mapped out my route to end up in Long View Park, a park within the prestigious gated community called Bear Brand. I parked near the dog park along Salt Creek Trail, which is a paved bike path out of Salt Creek Beach. From there, I took Colinas Bluff Trail for just a bit until the turnoff for Long View Park Trail (not marked!). Long View Park Trail is a single track with minimal climbing and  long views for sure. Unfortunately, the weather quickly turned overcast and the sky became the same color as the ocean. So my long ocean views were gray. On a good note, the weather was pleasantly cool.

Long View Trail is a lovely urban trail in and amongst multi-million dollar homes that frankly, I’d be embarrassed to live (talk about gluttony! Something I know all too much about). Now, I’m not one to promote class envy, in fact, I despise class envy. It really infuriates me – but I just have to say that I found these homes somewhat vulgar – like public masturbation. That may not make sense to some but being that I know a lot about gluttony (I’m an expert!) I couldn’t help but be slightly repelled by the neighborhood. (Search Bear Brand for sale and you’ll see homes as high as $25 mil.) Fortunately, the trail wound in and out of the neighborhoods and was mostly serene and lonely (the best!) so I did not have to look gluttony right in the face for my entire hike.  I took the trail as planned, all the way to Long View Park in Bear Brand. But I arrived to find the gate locked! Later, I read online that you can only enter that park via Del Avion which is much closer to my home. . So, there will be a part 2 to Long View Trail.

This hike was about 3.5 miles for the round trip.

From Salt Creek Trail, the tunnel beneath Golden Lantern to Colinas Bluffs Trail:
Colinas Bluff Trail
The Gate to Long View Trail:
View of San Juan Capistrano  & Mission from Long View Trail: IMG_9763
Long View Trail:
Gate locked at Long View Park:
Heading back (Long View Trail):IMG_9783IMG_9785IMG_9787

Friday, January 14, 2022

Cave-Rock Post-Injury

When my doctor said that I could take short, flat hikes, I was sure to clarify exactly what he meant by flat (because the road can be flat at an incline). It didn’t even occur to me to pin down what he meant by “short.” Monday, I took a “short”, “flat” hike up Aliso and Wood Canyons to a lovely hidden (in plain sight) gem, Cave Rock. It was the shortest hike I could think of where I could sit in a nice place in solitude.

Cave Rock Trail:
Cave Rock in the distance:
Approaching . . . IMG_9694
My only bit of “non-flat”:IMG_9698My Place of Solitude: 

As usual, weekdays are best. A father and daughter came by early on. Other than that, I had this side of Cave Rock to myself. I probably had all of Cave Rock to myself. But to investigate the entire rock would have entailed some additional non-flat hiking.

It felt wonderful to be out again. My secret place was so peaceful that I accidentally dozed off for a second. Whoa. It was time to head back. About 3.75 miles total for the round trip. I call that short. But I don’t think my calf thought it was short. It felt weird, kind of wobbly after a gentle stretch back at home. Worried that I over did it, I was back on heat and ice for the next few days. Since Monday, I’ve been off the trails and have been using my down time to get some painting done on the inside of the house. I am pleased with the progress but really want to get back to my obsession. Trails.


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

New Moments

With lots of December rains in Southern California, I looked forward to hiking along rushing creeks and searching out waterfalls during my winter break from work. The saddest story is what could have been, right? A day or so before Christmas Eve, I crept back into the house after a morning in the “man cave” with an armful – a few books and various loose papers. It was raining and wearing klutzky winter-type boots, I stumbled through the back door and quickly turned toward the kitchen table to set my things down. I didn’t see, nor did I remember, the stacked cases of bottled waters placed there the night before. Of course, I hit this stack completely by surprise and stumbled head first to the hardwood floor. Instinct was to protect my arm, the one I injured on the 17th hiking back from Holy Jim Falls. Without using my arms to brace I made quite a crash to the kitchen floor. I recall a 3 point contact fall with my left knee hitting first, next I believe, came my left hip (or that general area) and then finally the left side of my face, just above my ear, crashed into a plastic jug of laundry detergent on the floor. I saved my arm though.

So, that stumble was a stunner – nice icing on the cake to this strained body. With help from my husband getting off the kitchen floor, I went straight for the ibuprofen. Then I continued with my “spring” cleaning until the evening when I stretched my leg forward and felt a pop in my left (overworked, injured) calf. I dropped to the floor after that. I guess it was time to stop.

Ends up, I tore my left calf muscle which the doctor said should take six weeks to heal (I’m about half way there!) Of course, all was not lost. This did occur during the holidays so I was preoccupied some. Christmas time was filled with feasts and celebrations. And then we ended the year with another feast that lasted from the evening into the next day. The new year however, came and went without much fanfare as it has with me for many years. I don’t make New Years’ resolutions. Ever. I don’t need a new year to start over. All I need is a new day (which is why I love mornings so much!) I don’t even really need a new day. All I need is a new moment. So, with my leg out of commission, I’ll be using other ways to focus and grow. I’m feeling good about that right now, optimistic in fact, by the possibility of new moments.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Trabuco Canyon Round Two

My left side, particularly my arm, ached for several days after my fall hiking to Holy Jim Falls on the 17th of this month. The left knee pain seemed minor, and the arm wasn’t getting worse. In fact, after a couple tough days with some wearing a sling, I felt that I was on the road to recovery. When I woke on the 21st, I noticed an extremely tight calf on my left side but overall felt that I could hike. So, about 6 am on the 21st I drove out to met my friend Kelly at the mouth of Trabuco Canyon. I felt confident I could put in some miles.

We took my truck in, headed for Holy Jim Falls once again. About a mile and half before the Holy Jim lot, I parked along the fern wall of Trabuco canyon and we slid down the slope to the creek in search of Falls Canyon. It has been many years since I’ve travelled to these falls (in fact, I believe that I’ve only been there twice). It’s not a canyon one often ventures alone (though I did once, and it was lovely with no incidence). Anyway, Falls Canyon trail had changed a great deal, with much of it re-routed across the creek and then blocked by downed trees. The hike was tough, so tough that we eventually turned around a short ways before the falls (I thought that I could hear it). No problem. The trail had really done its toll on me anyway. It was time to head back to the truck in search of easier falls up Holy Jim Canyon.

Falls Canyon:IMG_9560IMG_9561IMG_9567IMG_9568

Scaling the creek wall to get back was much easier than sliding down it earlier. However, I struggled some because of my left side. Back in the truck and driving over Trabuco Creek a couple more times, we arrived to a crowded Holy Jim lot. We saw no other people, just a lot of trucks. Kelly was as pleased as I was upon returning to Trabuco Canyon after so many years away. We have had many adventures in these canyons together. Before heading up Holy Jim, we hiked Trabuco to the closed portion about a half mile up. A few specific cabins that I remembered had disappeared, absolutely nothing remained of them. Other cabins left behind stone chimneys and walls as remnants. If I recall correctly 13 to 15 cabins burned to the ground during the #HolyFire. The story is terribly sad. Arson from a maniac who couldn’t control his anger.

Trabuco Canyon:IMG_9573

We spotted a couple of guys wearing bright orange shirts drive up into the lot as we headed up Holy Jim Trail. (Kelly thought they might be hunters). Despite a lot full of trucks, we didn’t see anyone the entire hike to the falls. This of course meant that several people were hiking, running, or biking past the falls turnoff, closed territory. Good for us because we had the falls to ourselves for quite a while. Eventually, three gentlemen with hiking poles came up, and we chatted a bit about the trails. The mood was festive with laughter and lots of chatter. As we prepared to leave, the two guys wearing orange shirts hiked up. Kelly told them that she thought they were hunters to which the leader exclaimed, “And we are, hunting souls for the Lord!”

Holy Jim Falls:

The ladybugs were again out in abundance. They absolutely amaze me, so much so that I snapped away with the camera and didn’t realize that my injuries were taking some hits from this short hike. What a beautiful trip this was and the company made it even more special. I think it wasn’t until that night back at home when I realized that I had put a lot of pressure on my injuries, especially my calf and knee. It seemed inconceivable that such a  wonderful, short hike would cause so much trouble. Time for ibuprofen, ice and rest.

About 5.5 miles in total.


Friday, December 24, 2021

Welcome Back Holy Jim

It’s been nearly four years since I’ve driven up Trabuco Canyon, parked in the Holy Jim lot and ventured up that trail at the base of Old Saddleback. I love Trabuco Canyon; Holy Jim takes up much space in my heart. It has given me great things – beauty, revelation, and even triumph when we were in sync, but other times Holy Jim has delivered some heartache and even disgust, not to mention near heat stroke and nausea and other unmentionable physical problems. Aside from all this, what I remember most are the times Holy Jim gifted awe to the point of tears.

Anyway, I inadvertently learned that Holy Jim had partially re-opened from it’s closure after the #HolyFire (August 2018). How could this be? How did I not know Holy Jim had reopened? The news certainly put a kick in my step! And so, this past Friday, December 17, I finally returned. I expected the canyon to have a few travelers but as it turned out the canyon was practically empty. I enjoyed taking my sweet time driving the bumpy puddled road. About 3 miles in I was so overcome by the beauty, I abruptly pulled over to walk about mossy boulders overlooking the creek.

Teared up a bit at the mouth of Trabuco Cyn, like
anticipating meeting up with a long lost friend:
IMG_9368         I sure missed this drive:

The only other person in the Holy Jim lot when I arrived was a man who I had seen earlier on the drive. I noticed that he occasionally stopped to pick up trash alongside the road. He was sitting on the tailgate of his truck in the lot playing the harmonica when I pulled up. By the time I finally exited my truck two rangers had driven up as well. I chatted briefly with them (inquiring about further trail openings).  I was a little bummed to learn that Holy Jim from the Falls junction to the Main Divide would remain closed until August 2022. Now matter though because I was here now! I was grateful to hike Holy Jim even if just for a few miles.


IMG_9414Holy Jim Canyon was empty. When I say empty, I mean that I did not see a single other person as I made my way up the trail, nor did I see life at any of the cabins (except that final cabin that had the same red vehicle from years back parked up front). The lack of people made me reluctant about moving forward especially since I was headed toward a box canyon solo. Now normally, I’m not overly concerned about hiking or running alone, as long as I am well equipped and know the trails. But box canyons have always spooked me in general. (So, what was I thinking about doing this alone? I wasn’t thinking. I was too excited over the fact that Holy Jim was once again open.) But box canyons – yikes! I won’t even go into the horror the imagination can conjure up about being trapped in a box canyon. I decided that if I felt the same way at the turnoff, I would turn around and head back. It was that great to be back – it didn’t matter if I made it to my destination. It’s the journey that I get the most from, not necessarily the destination.

IMG_9421As I made my way along that quiet trail, I recognized much of Holy Jim from the past. For a few seconds I felt as if I walked through a ghost town – there were celebrations and defeats in this very same place (even before my time, for centuries!). There were the boulders I recognized, along with creek crossings and canopies. But much had changed as well. A good portion of the trail had been washed out. Standing in the midst of this washout, I felt disoriented not knowing just where I was. But then I noticed ties in the trees and quickly realized that the Forest Service had marked the way. Following the ties for a short while, I found myself back on recognizable terrain. Huge sections of trees were down and some particularly neatly placed boulders that previously framed the creek were now obliterated as if they had been kicked about the trail. Yes, things had changed. As they always do. But this was still Holy Jim, I could tell.


I felt comfortable upon reaching the turn off. The trail was pretty well visible and cleared and so I continued onward to the falls. Though it’s been almost four years since I’ve been on Holy Jim Trail, it’s been many more years since I’ve been to the falls. Holy Jim falls was an unnecessary detour while heading up to The Main Divide. But now. Now, 2021, I’m content hiking to the falls. It was lovely. I had it all to myself.


After spending some time at the falls, I headed back toward the trail and slipped on the wet rocks landing on my right hand. With my wrist a little achy, I felt that was ample warning. I told myself (out loud) Focus Lauren! You don’t want to break your arm . . . again. And then I chuckled. Not five minutes latter, while gripping onto a branch, my feet slipped beneath me and I slid down to the creek (but not into the creek). It was an awful fall affecting my entire left side (arm, hip,  leg). I had held onto that branch for dear life during the fall which resulted in a twist to my body. Twists like that do bad things (my last big twist resulted in torn tendons in my foot). So, there I was on the floor of the canyon once again. With use of only my right arm I got myself up and slowly made my way over the boulders and across the creek. Then while still a little dazed, the two rangers suddenly appeared before me. Well, what a happy sight! They helped guide me over a particular rough spot which was quite difficult with use of one arm. And I got to talking again with these guys, and turns out they know the guy who signs the permits for our races. In fact, he’s their boss and had sent them out that day to Holy Jim. I was amused by the coincidence. I told them to be sure to tell him I said Hi and reminded myself check-in. (The USFS has been very friendly toward foot races but COVID has put a hold on everything, as least in the Cleveland National Forest). Anyway, My spirits were up after that meeting and I felt better, confident that I could make it back to my truck without incident.

The remainder of the hike was in fact without incident. Except for this: On the way back I came upon these lovely creatures – Lady bugs!


About 5 miles hiked. I forgot to start my “Smart” watch.