Red Flag Warning today, which means high fire risk. This warning means that state parks and (probably) county parks would be closed. On the other hand, all national parks and forests are closed as well, due to the “Government Shut-Down.”
The wind blew so strongly, a fine mist of dirt flew through the air. Branches littered the road as I drove into the canyon. I thought seriously about not doing this run. After I witnessed a caravan of cars come into the Holy Jim lot, and twenty or so hikers enthusiastically jump out for a hike up to the peak, I had to give myself a good talking. I said something to this affect:
If they can do it, YOU can do it. MAN UP lady. Since when did you become a sissy? (ah, since the day I was born). Whatcha gonna do if it’s windy like this during Twin Peaks, turnaround and drive home???? Now get to it!
And so I ran, headed up Holy Jim Trail. I passed the group of giddy hikers early on. They carried horns made from antlers and red colored flags from their church. Their goal for today was to plant the flags at the peak. I’m not sure, but some seemed a tad puzzled by my less than enthusiastic attitude about climbing to the peak.
I can not remember one single joyful time climbing to Santiago Peak. It has ALWAYS been a great struggle. The peak itself is joyful. And the run down has been joyful many times. But those last three miles to Santiago Peak are rather hellish. You could say that I don’t look forward to them, not one iota.
This morning, my climb up Holy Jim, even in this wicked wind was delightful. Protected by trees, the wind hardly affected me. And the dirt didn’t fly up into my eyes except during exposed portions of Holy Jim. From behind, I could hear the cheers, laughter and horns blowing from hiking group below.
The gnats could not fly in this wind, this glorious wind. And this wind that I feared so much at the beginning of this morning’s run kept me nice and cool. But then I hit The Main Divide. I hadn’t heard the hikers or their horns for quite some time. My strategy for those last 3 miles were: run when I can, hike when I can’t – but never stop! And that was just what I did. The trip wasn’t too terrible, but it was TOUGH.
I met two hikers coming down from the peak. As we spoke, they said, “It’s windy up there. You know, it’s really windy . . . It’s super windy.”
“Okay, it’s windy,” I laughed to myself and wished them well for the trip down.
Ah . . . did I mention the two hikers said it was windy at the peak? They told no lie. They certainly didn’t exaggerate. The wind blew my cap off my head, it pushed me forward and back. It was deliriously fun. I felt like a child again, giggling and playing in the wind. On my way out, I saw my running friend (an awesome runner, wise and humble), Scott B. This is the second time semi-recently I’ve seen him on this mountain. Big coincidence if you ask me. I run up from the Orange County side, he runs up from the Riverside side. I’m sure I’ve already mentioned that I love, love, love seeing friends out-of-the-blue in the mountains.
By the time I headed down from Santiago Peak, my heel hurt so badly, I gingerly ran to avoid my heel landing on rocks. After a mile down, I began coming across some of the church hikers. With smiles on their faces, they pleaded, “How much longer?” The group was spread out over the next mile. Of course they were struggling, who doesn’t struggle going up to Santiago Peak, especially for the first time? I assured some of the church-goers that shade was close by. And that soon they’d be over the worst of it. They certainly weren’t cursing or scowling, like I have been known to do once or twice on this portion (but I wasn’t today )
Anyway, Scott caught up with me pretty quickly. His speed amazed me as he ran down the rocky terrain on The Main Divide. We chatted some about Twin Peaks as he walked while I ran (yes, his walking pace kept up with my trot) until we departed at Upper Holy Jim. I decided early on to take The Main Divide back instead of the more technical Upper Holy Jim. I didn’t need any accidents, especially with the now excruciating pain radiating from my heel.
When I made it back to (lower) Holy Jim, I came upon 4 or 5 churchgoers who had decided to wait in the shade instead of making the nasty trek up. I ran down Holy Jim, with an attempt to keep my pace up. In all though, the wind and the dirt in my eyes, plus the heel pain really wiped me out for today’s run. Still, I’d do it again (despite the lovely, awful wind and that great struggle to the peak).