There is something to be said for December afternoons. The air feels clear and fresh and the sunsets are the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. Although I didn’t hang out long enough for the sunset I still was able to enjoy the afternoon.
A few months back I came across the mention of the Wilderness Garden Park and have been intrigued ever since. I had never heard of it, and it wasn’t far from me, so I thought about finding my way ever so often. Normally I would embark on a trail adventure earlier in the morning, but my schedule just wouldn’t allow it today, and I really didn’t want to miss out on my opportunity of getting outside today. So, Rocky and I piled into the car, and off we went.
As much as I enjoy having the trails to myself, I also like to have some people around just in case something goes astray. This definitely wasn’t the case here. There were no cars in the lot, and I felt a bit relieved to see the ranger pull up, where I of course initiated small talk just so that he was aware that I was there.
I learned very quickly that this little adventure wasn’t going to take very long at all. In the entire park there are about 6 trails, but they are all less that a mile, and all link to each other in one way or another.
The area was truly beautiful, but not really a hike in my book. We were simply walking and following the trails with no elevation gain or loss. I decided that this would be a great place to begin trail running again, as the trails did become quite technical in some areas, and were definitely interesting.
The entire area is focused around the San Luis Rey River and Aqua Tibia Wilderness areas so I was hopeful that there would be some water crossings, but unfortunately those areas were dry. The only water that we found was this pond right along the trail.
It was very apparent that this entire wilderness area hardly saw any sun as it was, and on the shortest day of the year I was not about to be out on the trail after the sun went down, so we started heading back. At that point we found the other end of the “scenic trail” which I remember seeing at the beginning of the adventure, so we took it back.
If only the entire area was like the scenic trail!! The trail was cool and technical and we actually hiked! The view from the highest part of the trail was awesome and worth the little bit of sweat equity put into it.
Overall we had a great time and most important we were outside exploring, and enjoying a beautiful December afternoon in nature.
I woke up late. My coffee didn’t automatically brew. I couldn’t find my shoes. I couldn’t find my pack. I was losing hope, desire and interest. I continued on and as the sun beat through my car windows and the sound of reggae filled the car, my mood instantly changed and the hope for a beautiful, memorable, hiking adventure was restored. I was on my way!
I didn’t have a plan, but instead a feeling that I was trying to find. It was cold and I probably could have layered up better, but I was already running late and couldn’t find what I needed as it was.
So I set out on the first trail towards the hill that I had my eye on. It wasn’t a strenuous climb or very much of an incline at all, and that was okay. I wasn’t competing against myself today. I didn’t have a certain amount of miles to travel nor a time to beat. I was just going, searching for that feeling.
I ventured off in a direction that was unfamiliar to me, until I reached a directional sign. After all my years of running and exploring these trails, I never felt that I needed to figure out where I was going. That’s part of the fun, the adventure. Just go, until your legs can’t go anymore. Maybe you will be go in a complete circle. Maybe it will be a dead end. That has always been my favorite part. Learning as you go, literally.
That is not how my adventures go anymore though. I can’t go until my legs run out power. I have to have a plan because I can no longer out run anything that may be trouble coming my way, or outrun the sun that is setting. This is my least favorite part of it all. I can certainly go, but I can’t trust the run.
I turned to look at the sign, to see how many miles the trail was. 2.85 Roundtrip. That seems certainly doable. I didn’t want to spend my entire morning out there, and that is just enough to get something accomplished, although in the back of my mind, I knew that I would do more somehow. So off we went, and immediately we were greeted by a small bridge, over a small creek of running water! What a treat!
In southern California we have been blessed with rain, which is unusual. It is even more unusual that their is running water making its way to the lake.
Then it hit me. The smell. Smells have a funny way of doing things such as bringing back memories. Sometimes a period of your life can be characterized by a particular smell, such as your entire childhood, or your time in 3rd grade in Ms. Leaps class. Sometimes you cannot place the smell, but you like it because it feels good and comforting. As I kept along the trail, the smell kept following me. I liked it and welcomed it until it hit me. It was so comforting to me because that was the smell of the trail. It was the aromatic bushes along the water and it was something that I didn’t know that I loved and missed.
Then I had to go. Something about that smell made something click in my head, and I decided to try. Rocky was ecstatic about this decision and even kept looking back at me as if he was checking to be sure that this was what we were doing. We were RUNNING!
Then the memories started flooding back to me. The soft dirt under my feet. The rocks scattered about the trail. The quick thinking necessary to dodge the mini gorges in the trail formed by the rain. It was amazing!
I kept looking at my legs wondering if this was real.
Was I really doing this?? And was it really not hurting? How? I made sure to take walk breaks when I thought I needed them, although I didn’t feel like I did. For me their is a very fine line of doing it and overdoing it. Unfortunately I don’t know where that line is, and although I have learned to gauge it better, it is not always correct.
I continued my way throughout the trails, enjoying the sounds of the birds, watching and guessing what the animal tracks were in the sand, and feeling my heartbeat through my chest. Just as I had planned, I figured out how to sneak more miles in before I called it a day.
While walking back to my car I realized that I had found what I was looking for. That feeling. It was an old and familiar feeling, a feeling of freedom, that wasn’t gone from me. When I stopped running trails, and stopped running at all, that feeling didn’t die. It lived in me silently and patiently. For this reason I was meant to be out there on the trails. Even though my morning didn’t start as I had hoped, the fact that I continued and hoped for a wonderful adventure regardless, is the reason that the adventure far exceeded my expectations. The trails have always been my home, and I was so grateful to be back. Until next time!
So first off let me just say WOW! Where did the entire summer go?? Last time I checked, summer was just beginning and our plans to do all sorts of fun, adventuresome, amazing, entertaining and exciting things were just getting under way. I wait all year-long for summertime and this year it just flew by with the blink of an eye. I will say this though, we did do so many things this summer that it definitely was not boring. Let’s have a recap:
To start off summer, we were still playing baseball! Nolan made the 9/10 all-star team as an 8 year,old (league age 9) and for the first few weeks of summertime we were busy with that. What an experience! Nolan works so hard as a ball player, and for him to achieve such an accomplishment was awesome!
Then onto our family trip to Kentucky! On July 4th we flew to Nashville, the home of the nation’s largest firework display. Well we didn’t exactly get to see any fireworks due to the fact that is was pouring rain the entire day and night, but we did get to walk around the next a do some sight seeing.
It was such a beautiful place, that definitely is not suffering from a drought like we are here in California, everything was so lush and GREEN! There we got to experience lightning bugs, huge spiders, deer, geese, family time and lots of laughs together!
If you are baseball fan, this is a must see. While we were there, we took a tour to see how the Louisville Slugger bats are made, and at the time the factory was actually making the bats for the 2015 all-star game that was to take place the following week in Cincinnati. How cool is that!!
One week after coming home from our Kentucky trip, we ventured about 60 minutes south to Rosarito Mexico!! The man of the house and his tournament softball team were competing in a tournament there, and we got to enjoy Rosarito for the weekend. And what’s even more awesome, is that they won!
Woo hoo! Champs baby!! It was a great experience for Nolan to see how the culture is so different down there and eat tons of tacos! It was a great time!
The following weeks were filled with time spent with friends at the pool, beach days, baseball games, sleepovers, softball games, dog walking, and before you know it, school.
I definitely cannot complain that we didn’t do enough over the summer, in fact I wish we could have squeezed in MORE! I do welcome school days though, because with it comes a routine and a BEDTIME!
I have had this hiking book called Afoot and Afield; San Diego County for a few years now. This has book has been dubbed “the bible of San Diego hiking” and rightfully so. It is jam-packed with trails all over the county, including maps, level of difficulty and whether the trail is suitable for kids and dogs. I seem to gravitate to the same local trails that I know, and seemingly the ones that I manage to make time for so as a personal lifetime goal/challenge I vowed to complete every single trail in this book. Call me crazy!
I hope that this is the beginning of many new adventures, and officially the first (not the first in the book, but the first that I have written about) of the Trail Challenge Series!
Englemann Oak Loop – Escondido, Ca
The forecast called for rain. Last night when I scheduled todays hike with my friend Lu, I had no idea that we were due for rain in the middle of May. With the drought that we are in here in California we gladly welcome rain any time of the year. So after picking up my Amiga and her dog buddy Cha-chi, we headed out to Englemann Oak trail in good ol’ Daley Ranch.
Daley Ranch is a staple in my trail running and hiking adventures. A quick drive up the hill and your surroundings change completely. The trail network is extensive, and with trailheads in the north of Escondido as well as to the east, there are many options as to where to adventure.
My pup Rocky was so excited to go hiking! We had been going for the past couple weeks, actually making an effort to schedule the hike into the daily activities, and just like when we go running, he knows where we are going based upon my hat and choice of shoes. Cha-chi on the other hand had never been hiking, and had only met Rocky once.
I had the directions to the trailhead, which is not located anywhere near the area known as Daley Ranch, but is still a Daley Ranch trail because it connects with other trails. I had heard from a friend what to expect as you are driving up a dirt road and how to find the turn off for the trail. It seems like you may be lost, but you really aren’t, and Lu and I were all for the adventure!
After asking some city workers that were patching up the dirt road that we were driving on where exactly we should be going, we finally found the parking lot, and the trailhead. Off we go!
Right out of the gate the trail starts to wind and then climb. The climb continues for about a mile. Oak trees surround the trail, right along with a healthy supply of poison oak.
Rocky was ecstatic to say the least! Hiking and a new dog buddy, the dog life could not get any better!
Our usual beautiful blue California sky was replaced with a blanket of angry grey clouds, and after 10 minutes or so of hiking, the skies opened up and the rain came down. The fact that it was raining didn’t bother us, and if it bothered the dogs, they didn’t tell us. The dogs naturally were so happy to be out adventuring, I don’t think much would have bothered them at this point.
As we continued the rain started to come down harder and we contemplated whether we should turn around or stick it out. Really? It’s just rain. Yes, but we didn’t quite know where we were going, and we were not wearing any rain gear, and we definitely didn’t want to get lost. But what the hell?! We are Adventuristas! We must complete the trail!
After another mile or so, the rain calmed and the clouds started to part. Half an hour earlier we were so cold that we had to keep moving to forget about the cold drops falling on us, and now the sun was beating on us.
We came across some really cool plants, including some that I had never seen before, and after thinking about it realized that we didn’t see any animals except one bird.
The terrain of the trail was definitely not easy. So many portions were absolutely littered with rocks, it was very difficult to navigate the next step. Rocky even decided to walk off the trail to get through it, of course we thought he was a genius and followed right along.
This view is looking at Escondido to the south. I always appreciate when I come around the corner and the view takes you by surprise. It is such a treat to see, and to know that you can only see these beautiful landscapes if you put the work in and hike up a hill.
Our adventure quickly came to an end, shortly after passing the Bobcat trail, which we learned is just a shortcut off of the main loop of the Englemann Oak trail. I feel that this part of the hike was the most difficult. The decent was so full of rocks, you really had to take your time, and of course I have a dog who knows when we are heading in the direction of the car and all of a sudden it becomes a race.
By the time we got back to the main gate, nearly all of the clouds in the sky had moved away and the impression of rain was long gone. I thought is would be fun to get a picture of the two dogs together. As it turns out, it was more fun taking pictures of Lu trying to get the dogs together.
All in all I would consider this trail a success! Back in my trail running days I would have loved the steep climbs and super fast down hills, and I really appreciated the difference in scenery throughout the entire hike.
What a great new start for the year! I haven’t run consistently for over a year, and although it has only been a week, I don’t feel that it’s just me being trendy. I did run 20 miles in the last week, so I would say that that’s pretty darn good!
Rocky and I are getting used to making a morning run part of our routine, and even though I don’t get to have that second cup of coffee in the morning, its totally worth it. And after one week, I’m already discussing future racing plans. I’m such a dreamer.
So here’s to another fabulous running week!
It is my last week of spring semester, my finals are a week from today. I have papers to write, research to conduct, studying to do, and I can’t hold a pen. For the past 6-8 months or so I have been suffering from chronic inflammatory pain in my ankles, that moves up through my leg within hours. Once I feel the onset, I recognize it, but then dismiss it because it’s always there. For the past month though, I have been suffering from pain in the joints of my fingers. Sometimes I can’t even hold things because my joints are so stiff, that they will not allow for my fingers to close. As a waitress, I am constantly using my hands, even when I’m not at work. I love to garden, get crafty, cook, and write. I began to credit my pain to the constant use of my hands, and that there was nothing that I could do.
Until last night.
The pain in my fingers, hands, feet, ankles and various other parts of my body in the bones, made it difficult to fall asleep. It felt like my hands would not open back up once I put them in a certain position.
So this morning I made an appointment to get it all checked out.
For the past few weeks, I have been eager for the spring semester to be over so that I can get back into running, and hopefully run some summer races. I have an eight month old German Shepherd that would appreciate some trail time, and now I can’t even hold his leash.
So hopefully today, I will have some insight as to what is going on.
Wish me luck!
This morning I woke up with a desire to write. I have to admit, as much as I love writing for this here little blog, that mood hasn’t struck me in quite some time. Maybe it’s the heat wave that we have been having here in Southern California for the past week. The heat brings out a desire to hang out working in my yard all day, to run, drink beer, play outside as much as the sun will allow, drink beer, and drink beer. Doing things that I loved to do, including write.
So after I was excited that I wanted to spend some time working on the blog, it occurred to me that I have absolutely nothing new to write about. But that’s just it. Everything that I have ever written about on my blog are things that I haven’t been doing for the past 4 months or so, they are things that I do often, and that I love. Yes it’s mostly about running, which I do love, but also haven’t been doing in quite some time. Did you understand that? So it could be interesting, a ‘what’s been going on with Kate type thing.’ So I welcome you to the list of not so interesting, or interesting things that I have been doing.
1. School. This is nothing new, but definitely has been taking up
too much a lot of time.
2. Work. This is once again not new, but it gets old. I want to go have fun!
3. A puppy. This is new, and it just occurred to me that I have yet to introduce the blogosphere to the newest member of the family, Rocky. Puppies are fun, but also more work than anyone should have to deal with. Would I get another? Probably.
4. Minor B baseball. Baseball has always been a huge part of our family, whether it be Joe’s ( that’s the man in the house) men’s softball 4 nights a week and counting, or little N’s baseball. The thing is though, minor B baseball is a lot more kiddo baseball than we’re used to, and quite frankly, it takes up a ton of time.
5. Annual Disneyland Memberships. This is huge in a super exciting kind of way. Our family splurged this year and got memberships to Disneyland. Why you might ask? Well, Dland is awesome, and most people that I tell this to, think I’m nuts. I have always loved Dland, although I may not a year from now. Now mind you, dland is the furthest place away from being out on a trail in the boonies by myself, where I am super happy and content. Dland makes me happy in a different kind of way. It’s a good thing I wrote this post so that you people out there who think that they know me, learn a bit about the me. HA!
6. Big Bear Lake. I love Big Bear, and I am not just saying that because I went there recently and it was awesome. Big Bear honestly holds a place in my heart, and let it be known now, I will have my very own cabin there someday. I have been there numerous times, and each time I have to say goodbye to the beautiful mountain town, it pulls at my heartstrings a little. The family and I enjoyed an early vaca there already this year and stayed in a cabin, which was fun and exciting!
Ok and here’s a big one….
7. No beer drinking for me. What?!?! Did you know that this was even possible? Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking beer. I’m a beer girl. But I don’t have to drink beer, unlessit’sasuperhotdayliketodayandalliwantisafingbeer, then I have to drink a beer. But really I just haven’t been in the mood. Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s just a phase.
*Edited* Shortly after writing this post I went out to hang with friends and this happened. I’ll take the man size please. Told you it was just a phase.
So I guess that’s it for me, for now. It seems things may be turning around a bit, and who knows, you may see a post about the old things that I used to love, running, drinking, trail adventuring, running, eating, beer drinking and beer drinking. Wait… I still do love those things. Oh well.
Running Beer Drinking Adventuring Day