TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 A Look Back

Happy New Year!  As I sit in this motel room in Deming, NM and write my New Years Blog, I can’t help but look back.  I’m usually always looking forward – I’m “The Planner.”  If you’ve visited my blog, you know that already.  For most, the new year is a time for looking forward.  For me, I just have to look back, at least one time.  The last time. 

I must quote Dickens when I say that 2010 was “the best of times and it was the worst of times.”  But I also have to admit that as far as fitness goes, it was not the worst of times (though I did not lose a single pound – however, that is not a real goal of mine, otherwise I would have achieved it). 

In 2010:

I ran 1,205.80 miles (mostly on the trail), did 342.27 sweaty miles on the elliptical crossramp.  I swam 31,450 yards, would have like to have done more, but any swimming I can get is great.  I LOVE to swim. Swimming to me is like flying, at least the closest I can get to physically flying.   I also cycled 178.44 miles.  I know that’s no great feat, but I’m no cycler and just do it for cross training “easy” days at the gym.  I also (can you believe I count these??) did 32,101 crunches.  I didn’t count how many planks or back exercises I did.  Nor how many times I cried over not being able to run.  Nor how many times I woke early and simply drank coffee, racing to get the boys off to school, then zoned at the p.c., deciding on household chores instead. But I will say that I had many exciting, happy and even some disappointing days on the trail. All of those miles – well worth it! 

I saw rattlesnakes, bobcats, deer, hawks and more.  I ran across gopher snakes, and even a fox most recently and uncontrollable dogs.  I came across an historic cemetery and an old car wreck.  I filmed many trails and enjoyed them all to no end.  I am happy to be a trail runner in 2010. 

2010 was also a year of many injuries.  It started off with a left hip injury that took physical therapy visits and mucho education to conquer.  There was the pelvis injury due to the car accident.  And also the glute/sciatic nerve issues, not to mention back spasms (probably related to the latter).  Fellow bloggers helped more than any through these.

At the end of 2010  I’m UNINJURED with a host of daily exercises to remain that way, if I want to keep up my love for the trails. (And I do, I do, I do.)

In 2010, I also ran 3 marathons, all tough, tough, tough, which I learned much.  I learned about calories during long runs, how to keep my mind calm and not panic.  I learned more about how to recover, and I conquered cramping this year better than last.  This year was also the first DNF (Did Not Finish) for me and DFL (Dead Friggin’ Last).  And I survived both of them.  I took the DNF much, much harder than the DFL (I actually cherished the DFL). 

I ran 11 races in 2010 (much under 2009’s number of races, but more miles than 2009’s races).  And best of all, I met new runners, and met up with runners I’ve run with before, and best of all, though I’m not a great, or even that good of a runner, I’m still a runner.

2010 was the year that:

We welcomed two beautiful baby girls into the family – one on the hubby’s side (Addison) and the other on my side (Miriam).

Our youngest boy entered kindergarten and met a great friend.

My oldest son added another instrument to his repertoire (the mandolin) and went to middle school (& not to mention broke his foot!).

My middle son went another year without a surgery and grew more confident and less anxious about school.

The housing market continued to fall in California and I saw more friends lose their jobs and houses. (Some moving out of The O.C. entirely)

I got to spend almost an entire summer with my east coast family who visited while my brother went to Afghanistan, AND

The oldest of my brothers returned from Afghanistan safe and sound. 

My middle brother was discharged from the military on a medical disability.

My car was totaled in a four car pile-up (but at the same time, THANKFULLY, our boys were not injured).

Our dear, dear dog Daisy died. (I still cry), and I WILL NEVER FORGET HER.

My parents home was TERRIBLY burglarized. (But no person was physically harmed, and that is the most important).

I rode an ambulance to the hospital with my son (and the Ambulance driver asked me the best way to get the freeway : ) Then not too soon afterward, I unfortunately took the trip by myself for unrelated issues.

I attended my second Writer’s Conference (& got a hook!)

Two long time neighbors moved (so sadly, but good news for them). 

My cousin’s son’s leukemia continued into remission. (Halleluiah!)

Our main computer crashed. 

Our backyard neighbor’s tree crashed down and we both had to build a new fence (good news, better than building a new garage).

And best of all, we got to visit Texas again after two long years.

But, sadly, sons cry over leaving too early.

This is what I remember from 2010.

I also purchased no new clothes in 2010.  I simply threw catalogues away without even perusing.  And I learned I could easily live with that!

And though my calves and quads and hamstrings grow stronger and stronger, I really couldn’t really care less.   All I want is to have fun exploring trails (not to mention wealth, health and happiness for my sons).  I’m just a girl who wants to have funnnn!  And fun to me is running up or down trails I’ve yet to venture.

Hiking on the Miertschin Ranch (Me and my SILLY boys).

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Good-bye Texas

Thursday, last full day in Texas, I spent lounging, hiking, talking with family.  About mid afternoon it was time.  Time for speed work – my last run in Texas 2010.  It was not as miserable as usual (speed training that is ).  But still, I was pretty miserable.  I forced my way though.

It will be sad to leave.

Miles logged:  2.0

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Runners!

I went for an afternoon run today, something I rarely do in California.  But the weather was cool and only 6 more miles was going to knock me over the 1,200 mile mark for 2010.  That’s less than 2009, but I’m still dang satisfied with 1,200.  Especially due to all my injuries, and especially, especially due to the fact that I used to think that running was about the worst thing a person could ever put themselves through (on purpose!)

Ready to take off for a run in the countryside 

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After two miles of dusty county road I came upon a small cemetery.  It stood there all by itself, next to acres and acres of farmland, some green fields, others brown.  The white fence that surrounded the cemetery was open.  So, I took a detour and ran on in.  The short visit made for a somber moment.  Too many of those grave markers were for children.  Many of the grave markers were simply rocks that someone had erected white crosses over apparently some time later.  Small tattered Confederate flags stuck in the dirt over two graves, fluttered in the wind that had been blowing quite hard since I left the ranch.   I felt the need to tread lightly among the graveyard as not to disturb the graves.  After reading every marker, I was off running again out on the road. 

In the distance I could see a farmhouse with three dogs racing down its long, quarter mile dirt “driveway”.  “Oh Sh**!  Not again,” I grumbled and reached into my pack for the pepper spray.  The dogs ran to the road and waited for me there, barking, barking, barking.  “Stay,” I said in an authoritative voice as they approached me.  They continued to bark ferociously, but approached no closer as I ran by.  “Stay!”  I commanded again, and then “Good Dogs,” as I ran on.  “Good Dogs.”

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I ran lonely county road after lonely county road.  Some of them gravel, some paved, most of them dirt.  The solitude was absolutely serene.  And then, way, way up ahead, I couldn’t believe it.  Was that another dog approaching me???  I continued running with my eyes on something moving closer and closer to me.  Then finally, to my utter disbelief, I realized she was a runner!  I actually met another runner out here.  She was wearing a hydration pack and laughed when I said “Oh my gosh!  Another person!”  And then, if that wasn’t great enough, not too far behind, another runner!  He wore a hydration pack too and when I asked if they were training for something, he said “No, just trying to get off some of those extra holiday pounds.”    I was so delighted, you’d think I’d never met another runner before : ))

Is there anybody out there???

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Yes, by gosh, there is!  Runner number two on the road.

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Turns out, I missed a turn on my loop and ran almost 3 miles out of the way (there and back).  I knew something was up when I hit a main highway with cars whizzing by.  I had ran to the next town!  I phoned the ranch to find out where I went wrong.  And it turned out that I missed a turn well before I met the runners.  So I wasn’t too sad about the extra miles.  Actually, I was happy. 

Back on the right road

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Miles logged this afternoon:  9.44

My Activities stephenville, tx 12-29-2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Countryside Run

The thermometer read 20f degrees when I stepped outside this morning just as the sun began to cast its glow into dark skies.  I wrapped myself up pretty good (except for my legs), packed a breakfast of dried fruit and nuts, strapped on the water and headed out the door for a run.  Oh ya, I was wearing my road shoes too, for I wanted to venture off the ranch and into the countryside.

Actually, I planned on a ranch loop first thing, but with all those coyotes barking away, like they were running through the fields having a grand ole’ time, I decided to do a quick run on only well-defined ranch trails before hitting the road. 

The small stock pond was about half frozen over.  The wind blew cold.  My face took it pretty well because I brought a scarf to wrap and close everything off but my eyes, if need be.  My legs were the really cold parts.  But after about a quarter mile, I really didn’t mind the cold legs.

Bundled up for my countryside run

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A quick shot before I ran off the ranchCIMG8297

And so I continued my run along the lonely county roads of Erath County, Texas.  I waved at my mother and father-in-law as they drove in from town for their morning newspaper.  I hoped that I didn’t worry them running out on the road so early in the morning.  I came upon very few cars for the first several miles.  And every driver that I saw, waved, just like they were my in-laws.  I waved back. 

I ran simply taking it all in, snacking here and there on my breakfast.  I stayed in the now, I kept the past and present out of mind.  Good thing.  A fox crossed my path so quickly, I barely knew what to think of her graceful movement.  Her tail was long and fluffy, darker than her brown body.  She resembled a wild cat, but in no way carried itself in that sleek cat-like manner, not to mention her torso was much too low to the ground.  I knew she was no domesticated dog for sure, too delicate and as I mentioned above, graceful.

Cattle out to graze saw me as I ran those endless county roads and they began running – in the same direction I ran.  I had to laugh at that sight, me running along the road with fifty or so cattle running along on the other side of a fence.  I never saw another runner though.  That’s of course, not to say there weren’t people running this morning in Erath County.  The county is so immense and sparse at the same time, the chances of coming across another runner outside of town are just too slim.

Lonely county road of Erath County

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Cattle ready to dart at the sight of me

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I was surprised how thirsty I grew running in such cold weather.  I was surprised also that the water in my drinking tube was frozen (I quickly felt for the water in my pack, relieved that it was not frozen and worked on the tube until I finally got it flowing.)

Apprehensive over running past the junkyard that I ran by 2 years ago, I was greatly relieved that no junkyard dog roamed the premises threatening to take a chunk out of me.  I still carried that pepper spray, you can be sure.  And then, some time past the junkyard, I heard a little jingle, jingle, jingle.  I took an anxious look behind me to see a gorgeous brown Pointer running seemingly happily right along with me.  She was a beauty with those big brown floppy ears.  And just like that, she was off as I ran onward, curious to see where this county road lead.

I ran past orchards, a dairy farm, hay farms, ranches and farm houses.  I saw the Texan star displayed proudly, along with the American flag and signs that read, “Pray for America.”  And then at the bend in the road, I came upon another farm with a quaint white house and detached garage with a giant Texan star on top.  The unfenced yard had with no less than five big barking dogs who promptly ran off the property, crossed the road and charged right at me with vicious barks and teeth snarling. 

“Okay, okay,” I told myself.  “Remain calm.  Don’t do anything different.  Don’t race ahead.  Don’t stop.  Don’t even let your heart speed up.”  I smiled and said, “Good Girl!  Good Boy!”  and kept on running my same pace.  They left me in about a minute.  But that was a minute way, way too long.  I told myself that this would definitely not be an out-and-back run today.  Somehow, I needed to make this run a loop; I did not want to face those dogs again.

Soon after that, I hit a farm road.  Farm roads are much busier and faster than county roads out here.  They have lines painted down the middle to separate two lanes.  And they have nice big easements along them to run in.  I ran in this easement, against traffic, as an occasional car raced by at sixty plus miles a hour.  So determined to not meet those mean doggies again, I kept running along the icy grass easement.  My feet felt cold, while I hoped to eventually hit the main farm road that lead to the county road that the ranch is on, making this run a loop.

At the two hour mark and not seeing any sign of the farm road I needed, I turned back.  My feet were wet.  The wind blew strong and cold.  And worse yet, I had to pass those dang dogs again.  Perhaps they just needed to smell me the first time I ran past.  I hoped I wouldn’t be a stranger to them this time around.

Well, I was a stranger to them this time around.  They charged me again.  The biggest, pit-bull looking dog came up on me fast and furious, the others close behind.  I really thought the attack was on.  I desperately didn’t want to pepper spray them, so I continued my “Good Dog!” bit and ran on, smiling like a fool.  Then finally the owner of the house, a little white-haired lady stepped out the front door and called her dogs back to her.  They promptly left my side and surrounded the woman on her porch.  I waved to the lady, said good morning.  I almost wanted to apologize for disturbing her!!  If I was back home in The O.C., I would have been extremely angry at the owner for letting such scary dogs roam fenceless.  But this ain’t the city Sister!  This is the country, where there’s sometimes a mile between houses and coyotes roam the fields in enormous packs. 

The remainder of my countryside run was uneventful, though beautiful.  My Pointer friend even joined me again for a short portion (she was a doll!)  Uneventful, I say, except for the fact that a strong cold wind blew hard against me and my feet were by then sopping wet from melted ice.  It was lovely still, though I did cut my run short about 5 miles.

Returning “home” on my countryside run (county road below)

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Miles logged:  15.15

+1,079 feet

My Activities stephenville, tx 12-27-2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Run

The weather took a turn on us in Texas on this delightful Christmas morning.  The birdbath in the yard had a layer of frozeCIMG8274n water.  And when that wind blew, it felt a lot colder than freezing.   Some family members told me that it was too cold to run.  Ha.  That’s pretty funny, because I know that once I get running, no matter how cold it is, the layers start coming off.  And then I went outside.  Yup.  It was cold, cold, cold.  (Thing is, I MUCH  prefer running in this kind of cold than in the heat.)  And it was about 11:00 in the morning when it should have been warming up (by my California standards that is : )

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But I went for a leisurely run anyway.  You know how Christmas morning is?  As much as some of us look forward to it, the day with family or friends, good food, cozy times, it can be quite hectic and loud.  I needed to wind down.

Posing for my Christmas Run

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The ranch was serene as usual.  Empty as usual.  And at times, boy did that cold wind blow.  I felt comfortable though, and with this speed training, a leisurely run is oh so easy, fun, seemingly so natural.  I ran much of the same loops that I ran the other day.  Through the cow pasture, through Post Oak Groves and out to two stock ponds.  Then I ran the fence all the way to the dry creek bed, where I lost my water bottle.  I had no trouble finding the road back, because my husband has been driving it over the past couple days so I would have tire tracks to follow.

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Not often I will get to feature a trail on video in Texas.  So, here it is, what I first called “Dry Creek Trail” but now think “Fox Tail Trail” is more appropriate.

 

Miles logged today:  5.13

Friday, December 24, 2010

Speed Training Ranch Style

We’ve got ourselves a thunder and lightening storm out here today.  So to the gym I went.  The gym is quite lovely in town (not so for the owner, I’m sure), because there was only 4 people working out when I went in (8 when I left).  No lines for the machines.  The women wear normal gym clothes there, not skin tight spandex shirts to show off breast enhancements : )  (I’m not bashing California, mind you, I love California)  But it’s nice to be where people are a little more settled about themselves.  One lady was even on the stair stepper in her street clothes and boots. : ))

As promised (to myself) I got in some speed training yesterday though.  A quick one.  But it was hard enough.  The driveway into the ranch is a rocky dirt road about a quarter mile long, which I ran down at a normal pace, then back up at my fastest pace.  I “petered” out as usual, about 3/4’s of the way back each time, but I kept pushing it to the end.  I got into the 7 min./mile pace (7:51) though, which is nice, very nice for me.  (I did this 3 times, there and back, of which my middle boy ran two of the out-and-backs – so proud of him.)

Afterward I went tramping around in the brush to find my husband and and two youngest boys.  When I told him that I was BEAT.  He said, “You have to run FASTER.” 

Ha, ha.

So he challenged me to a race back to the ranch.  The distance was short, very short.  Probably 1/10th of a mile, maybe a little more.  I looked at his feet, he was wearing Ugg boots and I debated.  Anyone, I mean anyone can beat me in a short distance race.  But I went for it anyway.  And I kept up pretty good.  And about a quarter way I came upon a bush and rather than wasting time running around it, I actually HURDLED it, landed on my feet and kept up my pace.  I shocked the heck out of myself (& my husband too).  I “petered” out close to the end, and he won the race of course.  I forgot to look at the garmin, but I suspect I beat that 7:51 by a longshot.

Miles logged Thursday:  1.5

Monday, December 20, 2010

Texas Ranch Running

Two days driving and no cardio since Wednesday, my body actually began to stiffen up.  My joints ached.  My hips ached, my legs, my back, even my arms.  My first morning waking in Texas, I just had to get out and run, run to get rid of this stiffness.

I went for low mileage today, just a leisurely run about the ranch.  The grass was high.  The thorns cut deep.  Two vultures emerged from the trees, scaring the daylights out of me – their big black wingspan looked like it was SIX feet wide.  No lie.

My legs got pretty scratched and cut up.  The terrain actually drew blood.  The terrain was not difficult in the sense that it was hilly.  It was difficult in the sense that there was no trail.  There was some dirt roads, and some nice grove areas with little obstacles.  But most of it was plowing through thorny brush or waist high grass.  I’m not used to bushwhacking on the trails I normally run : )

Still, the run was delightful (as it pours down rain in my hometown, the sun shines brightly here in Texas).  I was completely alone (except for those vultures) and I got rid of those aches.

First quarter mile of today’s run (out to end of driveway)

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Where the branches snagged my earphones (I lost a piece in the brush, never to find)

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Post Oak grove in the wintertime

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1 of two stock ponds

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I just thought this was pretty

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Running through dry creek bed

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Stopping to pose in dry creek bed

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Looking for the road back to the house (never found it, because it’s not there anymore : ) – the road, not the house. : ))

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Miles logged:  5.17

My Activities stephenville, tx 12-20-2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jump!

Well, time is winding down for me with a road trip fast approaching.  Today I had planned for another timed 9.5 loop (up Meadows).  But I woke to rain and the trails were closed "due to wet and muddy conditions."  I tried not to think about it.  I don't want to get angry.  I DON'T WANT TO GET ANGRY.  What's one timed run?  I spent two hours at the gym yesterday.  If it wasn't for my not so good eating habits, missing one timed 9.5 mile run wouldn't amount to much.  And here we are approaching the holidays . . .

Enough of calories and eating!  What's important for today is that I did something new.  After rushing about running last minute errands in the rain, turning in grades, picking up groceries, mailing Christmas cards, etc., I returned home in a hurry and did something my husband has been urging me to do for a long time. 

It's not what you're thinking.  Get your mind out of the gutter. (kiddin' : )  Hubby has said for I don't know how long, that I need to learn how to jump.  Yes, jump.  And for some reason, I have a fear of jumping, mainly because I feel like I'll fall flat on my face.  I'm not talking about jumping rope, or even jumping across the gym or lawn like I used to in high school volleyball workouts.  I'm talking about standing still and jumping up onto a platflorm, pausing to balance then jumping back down backward.  He's convinced this will help me with running, especially with those technical runs (like Calico!). 

So today, I stood out in my backyard on the wet grass in front of the double-stacked railroad ties that border the planter.  And I stood there for a few minutes gathering my nerve to make that first jump.  To my surprise I made that jump without falling flat on my face into the garden.  But I did use an awful lot of upper body strength to make that flight upward.  My husband convinced me to use more of my legs, which I did.  And surprisingly, that jump up and back grew easier and easier.  My fear of jumping vanished quickly, probably after jump three.  I jumped up onto those double stacked railroad ties 100 times, dripping sweat afterwards.  I have to report the workout was fun.  Really fun. 

Miles logged today:  Zero

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holding onto the Hope

I still hate it.  Speed training that is.  Today was the day.  Somehow I was able to get myself out there and do some speed work.  Thing was, I had very little time and no car, so I had dig beneath the bed for a matching pair of road running shoes and hit the pavement for the first time in a long time.

Warming up for ten minutes, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to run.  I felt light on my feet, like running was effortless.  And then my hill came (or do I mean, my hell : )

I ran up Golden Lantern (a very decent grade) and back as fast as I could, three times.  After the first dash up and back, I raced up the flight of stairs nearby (about 120 steps with 3 landings), two times.  After my second race up and back Golden Lantern, I ran that flight of stairs 3 more times, resting at the top each time.  Then it was one more speed burst up Golden Lantern (which in reality was quite slow, I was so dang beat).  I ended the run with about a 5 minute leisurely pace before taking time to stretch.

Again, I felt extremely weak and disheartened during and after this speed work.  It’s definitely not my fun day running.  Just holding onto the hope that this will make me a tad stronger and faster.

Miles logged:  3.54

Elevation Profile:

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Station to Station

For a while now I’ve had this notion to do a run that connects 3 local trail systems:  Crystal Cove, Laguna Coast Wilderness and Aliso/Wood Canyons.  And so I woke early this morning and walked down to the bus stop in the dark and stood there waiting in the cold fog.  I was so happy to see the bus finally pull up that when the doors opened I said, “Ahhhhh, warmth!”  To which the bus driver replied, “Well, where’s your clothes???!!”  He started my morning with a good laugh, and when I told him I was going running, he looked out into the dark fog, laughed and said “You’re crazy.”  I put my dollar fifty into the slots, sat down and continued to crack up every single time he picked up or dropped off a passenger.  He had something funny to say to everyone.  (That man deserves a raise!)

Though it was no longer dark when I arrived to Crystal Cove, fog was thick.  Very few cars were parked in the lot as I walked up to it.  Off to the side, a lone coyote, plump and larger than usual (at Aliso/Wood they’re scrawny)stood looking over us.  He seemed so eerie standing there against the fog, like he was a werewolf about to change as soon as the fog cleared.  Coyotes roam in packs, so I had to wonder what the heck he doing all alone out in the open like that.  When I took out my camera to click a picture, a car drove by and the coyote was off.  Note:  sure way to get a wild animal to leave is to take out your camera and try to get a picture. 

At Crystal Cove Ranger Station ready to runCIMG7996 

I began running up El Moro Canyon with my ipod turned low and pepper spray strapped to my wrist.  I was a little worried running a desolate trail in dense fog that I’ve only run once before.  The fog though lifted quickly, probably just a couple hundred feet in elevation.  By then, I felt strong and happy to be on this running adventure. 

From the canyon I took a little detour up “Slow and Easy” which I ran at a slower pace but I wouldn’t exactly call it “easy.”  (On the other hand, it wasn’t hard – I still felt strong.)  At Bommer Ridge, I checked my maps and headed off in search of Old Emerald Falls Trail in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

El Moro Canyon

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My map didn’t exactly show where Old Emerald Falls Trail connected.  I’ve run this trail before, always with someone else.  And we’ve always had a hard time finding it, since it is unmarked at the top.  I figured if I ran down Moro Ridge, I was bound to find it.  And that was what I did.

Well, I didn’t find my trail.  I studied my map again and again, asked a hiker passing by, and then another.  And then the trail was lonely again.  Except for a bobcat simply sitting in the middle of the road.  I stopped running, because I didn’t want to run past the cat.  As I walked the cat slowly turned and walked away from me, stopping to bask in the sun here and there.  She was toying with me.  As I got closer and closer walking at a moderate pace, she didn’t speed up one bit.  In fact, she actually took a step or two toward me.  I stopped, waved my arms and yelled, “Get going kitty!!”  That darn cat!  She wasn’t afraid of me.  So I stopped and simply stood there looking at her.  And then my camera malfunctioned and I couldn’t get even one picture.  After some minutes, I took out my phone to snap the one below.  Finally, the bobcat meandered off into the brush. 

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After the cat was gone, I continued running the ridge when I realized there was no way, according to my map that I should have been running this far without finding my trail.  So, I turned around and ran back up the ridge.  Approaching Bommer Ridge again, I took a turn off onto a trail that didn’t really look like a trail.  Within minutes I recognized it all – that lovely single track that goes down, down, down into an immense wet meadow.  I was finally on my way!

View from Old Emerald Falls Trail

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Approaching the bottom of Old Emerald Falls

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I took another look at my maps at the end of Old Emerald Falls Trail and headed down Emerald Canyon Road for a bit to find Old Emerald Trail – another climb up to the ridge.  Somewhere on that trail, I lost my maps.  Duh! (My husband still can’t believe it.)

Old Emerald Trail

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At Bommer Ridge again (mapless), I knew to turn right.  But I didn’t remember how to reach Laguna Bowl Road, I asked a biker, he didn’t know.  Then I saw a guy running Bommer Ridge barefoot.  I ran with him a bit, asking him how to get to my trail.  He was going down a different way and didn’t know about the bowl.  He asked where I was parked, thinking I was trying to get back to my car.  I told him I took a bus and was running Crystal Cove Ranger Station to Aliso/Wood Ranger Station.  That’s when he gave me a double look with a squint in his eyes like what the heck are you thinking???  I didn’t remind him that he was the one running barefoot : )))

After we parted ways, I came to Laguna Ridge Trail, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I thought perhaps I should run it, but it went off in the wrong direction.  So I called my husband.  He got onto the internet and guided me in the right direction.  I eventually came out of this park via Laguna Bowl Road landing myself on Laguna Canyon Road, not too far from the Sawdust Festival.

Bommer Ridge looking toward a socked-in coast

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Some street running along Laguna Canyon Road to cross at a light on Canyon Acres Road

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Finishing up two parks didn’t really do me in.  It was the climb to Top of the World that did it.  First off, I could see the climb I would be making from across as I ran Bommer.  I knew it was going to be a bear.  I psyched myself out.  Secondly, I didn’t have a trail map.  And most importantly, it’s one HELL OF A CLIMB.  I also took one turn on the way up that added more distance than I needed.  I actually took two phone calls on the way up too (the modern world!). 

The first thing I said upon reaching Top of the World was “Thank God.”  And then a young man repaid me for all my questioning of other runners and hikers across the canyon by peppering me with questions about the trails.  I answered them all, nearly breathless. 

The beginning of my hellish climb up to Top of the World

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Very excited to reach Top of the World where I refilled on water

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I ran across Top of the World utterly fatigued.  Plopping one foot in front of the other, I didn’t feel good about my run, despite the great fun I had through the first two parks.  In Aliso/Wood I felt weak, like all my training wasn’t helping, otherwise I wouldn’t be so beaten.  I had to remind myself that the climb up to Top of the World was extreme and Calico’s 30k doesn’t have anything like that. 

I didn’t “fly” down Meadows like I prefer.  But I did run it all the way to Wood Canyon.  I took a few hike breaks along the last trail (Aliso Creek, which I don’t really consider a trail since it’s paved).  I arrived to Aliso/Wood Ranger station more mentally beaten than physically.  Since my husband couldn’t pick me up right away, I had plenty of time to stretch and relish the breezy shade.  And soon there was a smile back on my face. 

Meadows Trail

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Sitting outside Ranger Station in Aliso/Wood Canyons Park

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Elevation Profile:  18.53 miles logged, +3,515 / –3,509
station to station 12-11-2010, Elevation - Distance

Station to Station 12-11-2010