A Smell Unlike Any Other

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.

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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!

3 thoughts on “A Smell Unlike Any Other”

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