Rain and hail poured down upon our fragile roof last night (I describe it that way because of the skylights). I could see the pea-sized white beads of ice settling on the ceiling windows.. We had thunder so loud, our boys just couldn’t believe it. They had never heard a thunder boom so enormously.
I went to bed bummed because a storm like this surely meant that my local trails in the coastal hills would be closed. As I drove my boys to school beneath dry skies, I saw a snow covered Saddleback Mountain. Suddenly I HOPED my local trails were closed. I checked the website and called the parks up until 9AM, thinking “be closed, be closed, be closed!”
Needless to say, they were closed.
Sure, I didn’t have a lot of time, but I had enough time to do some running up Holy Jim Trail in Trabuco Canyon. So, gleefully, I headed off toward the freeway to find myself in a traffic jam getting to the onramp. I couldn’t wait, so I took a left onto a side road. Apparently, THOUSANDS of people came up with the same idea. Traffic did not move. From there, I could see the freeway marquee indicating a major accident at Ortega. So, I got out of line, and waited to make a u-turn. Apparently, HUNDREDS of people came up with that idea too. Well, I wasn’t going to do the next obvious thing; instead I drove north some before finally getting on the freeway. Anxious, I told myself, “Okay, you won’t have time to run all of Holy Jim. And if you don’t hit snow, well, heck enjoy the muddy/rocky off-road drive to the trailhead.”
I had no idea whether I’d hit snow running up Holy Jim. It was dang cold for sure, and I could see lots of snow up in the distance. I passed two hikers making their way up. After 8 stream crossings, still no snow. Three mountain bikers passed me on the way up at about mile 1. And though I was still running on dirt, I felt exhilarated. Then at about mile 1.4, I spotted two small clumps of snow. By then I had already peeled off my warm layers (It’s not easy running up Holy Jim). Then at mile 1.5, I saw long strips of snow along the trail’s edge.
I didn’t note on the garmin when I finally found myself surrounded by snow. It sounded like rain as the snow melted and dripped from the trees. A tiny creek ran swiftly down the center of the switchback trail. And then the snow stopped melting, and as I ran past the trees, clumps of snow fell to the ground directly behind me. It was an honor to be Holy Jim’s guest this morning. I didn’t want to turn back. I pushed the time limits as far as I could. I didn’t want to leave this glorious winter-wonderland, but I had to get ready for work. As I turned around I tucked away the camera and told myself, “No more pictures – enjoy!” Though I did take the camera out just a couple more times. Call me camera crazy today.
Running up Holy Jim:
On my trip down I saw this guy running up Holy Jim. He didn’t seem to notice me, because when I spoke it seemed I startled him. I said, “Who is this lunatic running up a mountain in the snow?” I laughed, but he was so concentrated on the run, he didn’t act like he got my joke. But I did get his name.
I worked long hours this afternoon into the night. I’m still grading papers at home. And it seems like ages ago that I went on this run. It was so delightful, so surreal, it’s almost like it didn’t happen. I feel extremely fortunate.