Hiking-Trails, Run!

Wednesday Wandering- The Pinnacles

The day before Thanksgiving, my dad and I headed out to the Pinnacles.  The Pinnacles is a state park located in Monterey County, about 90 minutes from home.     The weather was supposed to be in the high 40’s low 50’s and that is cold to this California girl so I dressed in a few layers which included 2 pairs of socks.   Once we arrived, we parked on got our gear ready.  I had my Nathan vest with 20oz of water and 2 Extend bars.   I didn’t think I would need the bars for what was likely going to be a 3 hour hike.   Insert theme song to Gilligan’s Island.

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My pops has had some pretty gnarly injuries over the years so he kept telling me to go ahead.  The trail was pretty straight forward and well marked.  I would go ahead until I couldn’t see or hear him anymore then stop and wait until I could.  It gave me time to take plenty of photos.  The scenery was amazing.  That combined with the chill in the air made me feel like I wasn’t in California anymore.

The first 2.5 miles gained about 1500 ft in elevation but 98% of that was very user- friendly.  All trail, nothing technical.    Just great views.   The wind was picking up and my ears were getting cold.  I can’t stand when my ears or toes get cold.  I stopped to pull my headband out of my pack to put it around my ears and waited for pops to catch up.  I made a snarky comment about how silly it looked with my hair sticking out and he commented that it’s not like anyone was looking.   HA!   I hit the first summit around 1.5 miles up and who was there?  A crew of firefighters.  Working out.  Seriously?!

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After that fun run in, I just kept going up until I thought I was at the top.   I was wrong.  My parents had done this trail in the past and I remembered my mom mentioning a set of freaky stairs but I hadn’t seen anything so I figured we took a different path.   Nope.  There was more to come, I had just missed it.  I was looking for actually stairs.  Not holes in rocks.

 

So yeah, I was a little nervous.    At least this section had a railing.  The last section to the top was a lot of hand over foot.   But the view was worth it.

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After a little rest on the top, we headed back down the other side.   This series of “stairs” was even hinkier and interesting going down.   Once past that though, we hit a nice path and going down was fairly easy.   I was still super cold, my toes and ears were felt frozen.  We went down like we went up, I would go ahead until I couldn’t hear my dad then wait til he was in sight again.    As we were nearing the bottom of this particular trail, I admit I was tiring.  While the path was walker/hiker/runner friendly, the elevation gain then loss was tiring plus I was freakin’ cold.  Pops was fading too.   We were just past 5 miles when we hit the trail head.   And wanted to cry.  We were 3.5 miles from the parking lot.  😢😢😓

We could do this, we could.   This path was along the river bed and pretty in a different way.   We were paying close attention to the trail as well because there was a trail head and accidentally taking it would add another 7 miles to the route.   Umm, no thank you.

However we had one last decision to make.     The trail split in 2 one last time.   You could choose the Balcony path for 1.7 miles to the parking lot or the Cave trail for 1.3 miles to the lot.    The park guide said you needed a flashlight for the cave but that was it.   We figured it was more a tunnel and took that route.  I was tired and my dad’s feet were hurting pretty badly so half a mile less sounded great.

Coming up on the cave, I started to doubt our shortcut.   We were climbing rocks and boulders just to get into the cave.   I was getting nervous.   Things opened up and flattened out once in the cave.  And turned pitch black.  I busted out the flash on my iPhone in time to arrive a wall of stone.   Ummm, where were we supposed to go?    I kept moving the light around the cave wall and I found a tiny little reflective arrow pointing up.   Moving closer, there was a hole in the ceiling.  Seriously?   And it was raining water so the rocks were slippery.     We made it through that only to find more rocks to climb up and out.    So that half mile less must have been in elevation and the shortcut was that we were climbing it instead.   Once out of the main cave, there was a narrow corridor to traverse.   Which was fine as long you were cool with boulders being wedged above your head.   Granted they’ve been there for hundred and hundreds of years but this is California and the ground does like to move from time to time.  😄

From there it was a much easier hike back to the lot.    My Garmin clocked in at 9 miles and I know I lost signal a couple of times.   I was completely out of water and hadn’t actually eaten anything for the 5 hours we were out there.    My feet were freezing and my dad was hurting too.   As we were climbing out of the cave, I glanced at my watch and even though there was no signal it showed a lap pace of 58:something.    Haha!  I didn’t even think it was possible to do a mile that slow!

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I wish I had better pictures of the cave but it was so dark.  Kind cool after the fact but it was way harder than I thought it was going to be.  😄  Overall it was a great day just a few hours and miles longer than planned.

Ever gotten turned around on a hike?

How about climbing out of bat cave?

 

Hiking-Trails, Run!

Sunday Summit- East Cuesta

Saturday was my first day of this half enforced, half by choice vacation.  How did I ring it in?  By doing absolutely nothing.   Ok, I did some errands in the morning but I spent the afternoon and evening vegging about in comfy clothes and watching a couple of movies.  I also didn’t feel guilty for procrastinating my laundry.  😄  I won’t lie; it was nice.  Well, until I ended the evening with the latest episode of Doctor Who and some crying.  Boo.

   
  Sunday was a different story.   My mom, S and I headed out to hike the East Cuesta trail.  “Hike” is kind of a misnomer, it’s all fire road.  What makes it fun is that it’s 4 miles up and then 4 miles down.    Nothing like a good climb to start your day right?

   
   
My plan was to power hike up then run back down.   My mother and I had hiked East Cuesta before about a year ago.  It has some amazing views but it was also a trail that freaked me out at a few spots.   There were a few places that I let my overactive imagination run away on a very overcast day.  😃

   
   
Sunday was the opposite of overcast.   In fact the temp hit the high 70’s.  Hey California- fall would be nice right about now!   I was interested in seeing what had changed.  Not only has California been in a major drought but East Cuesta was actually the epi-center of large fire a few months back.    Part of the freeway was shut down and a nearby town was evacuated.

Overall, things looked better than I had expected.    It’s interesting how much it seems that fire has a mind of it’s own.   Two sections could be black and charred with a healthy, so to speak, section in between.    You could see where nature is making a comeback.  Which is awesome, but if we have the El Nino they are predicting the charred sections are likely to turn into slide zones.

   
   
I maintained a good pace going up and was feeling pretty good.   The forest line has changed so I couldn’t remember where I had been spooked before.  😃   Near the top, there are 2 off shoot trails and I am not sure where they lead.  I headed up one for a bit but ended up turning around.  I knew if my mom and S made it to the tv towers before me, they would be alarmed.    Once there, we rested a bit before heading back down.

   
   
My goal was to run down at a nice comfortable pace.   My stomach was having none of that about 10 minutes in.  My fault, I had eaten a fairly large piece of pink champagne cake the night before and my stomach has not been a friend of sugar lately.   From then on it was a run-walk down.  All was good until the gun shots.  I froze in the middle of trail.  Do I keep going or do I go back up?     I figured it was probably someone shooting at targets, I’ve heard it before on trails this was just the first time I was completely by myself and it sounded closer.    I know people like to go shooting in rural areas and it was at consistent intervals so I chose to move on.   But then I remembered the 2 game warden trucks that had passed me on the way up.  What if there was a mountain lion sighting on the trail?  Aaargh!    That freaked me out and after a quick text to my mom, I ran down the trail.

   
   
Once at the bottom of the trail, my feet were bothering me so ditched my shoes for some flip flops before heading back up to the trail head to wait for my mom and S.   They hadn’t heard anything while on the way down but were feeling sore from the 4 mile descent.    We headed off for a well earned lunch in SLO.    I’d say we earned our pizza.  😃🍕  

8 trail miles on very warm Sunday?  I was a pretty happy Slacker.

Scariest thing heard/ seen on a run?

 

Hiking-Trails, Slacker

Sunday Summit- Reservoir Canyon

A few weeks back I came across a challenge on Instagram called #PixonPeaks.   Hike/run the specific peaks on the list, post it on Instagram and get a shirt.   Ok, it’s a little more than that but it peaked my interest.   And we runners like our shirts right?

Truthfully, I’ve been missing trails.  I love trail running/ hiking but it’s been a long time.   Summer heat kind of kills it and I like sleeping in.  Plus, you know, rattlesnakes.  Throw in a crazy schedule, training for a “goal” race and trails get ignored.    Stress has been getting to me in a major way and I just wanted to get lost.   I like to power hike up the mountains and then manage the fine line between running and falling down hill.  It’s impossible to over think and stress about life when you are throwing yourself down a hill.  😜  Lots of fun and a great way to de-stress.

IMG_2305IMG_2304Sane runners taper 7 days before a goal half marathon but I never claimed to be normal.   One of my mom’s tennis players is in a Geo class and they have to hike 10-15 miles a month outside of class so we picked her up along the way.   The plan was to hike up to the top and run down, nice and easy.  It should have been around 4 miles.   I had never hiked Reservoir Canyon before but always wanted to.   I am not sure why I thought it was going to be a walk in the park.  I had heard that there was a swing along with a teepee and nice stone seating are at the top.    How hard could that be?  Plus I kept seeing pictures of some pink metal thing on Instagram and I wanted to find it.

IMG_2294-0The trail started off through a wooded area and crossed a river bed.  Granted we’re in the middle of a crazy drought so there was no running water.   But the bridge was cool.  😄   The trees were probably as close as we are going to get to fall, so that was nice.  We only gained 200 ft in the first mile so how hard could it be?  I should have checked the trail sites.   The trail narrowed and started climbing.  There were 2 sections that were so eroded that there was no trail- you had to jump to the next section.   It was awesome.   And we gained 1100+ ft in the next mile and change.

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Luckily, the swing and the teepee were a nice distraction part way up.  How the hell did they get all that metal up there?  I was starting to wonder if I was even going to make it to the top.   Indulging in a little swing time was pretty awesome.

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But we weren’t at the top yet!   I started power hiking to the top pausing for picture breaks along the way.   1/4 of a mile from the top I thought I heard my name being yelled.  I paused, heard nothing.  Started up again and there it was.  I texted my mom and S to see if they were ok.  No response.  Well crap.  So I turned around and jogged down to find them.   Turns out they just wanted to make sure I was ok.   They could have texted- grrr.  And back up I went.   The dirt was super loose and rocks and roots were all over the path.   I made it to the top!  Then made a wrong turn and headed down a utility path that appeared instead of the actual trail.  Oops.  Turn around.    I eventually met up with my mom and S at the seating area.  My Garmin only registered 2.25 miles up so I was feeling pretty good.

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I still couldn’t find the pink thing.  S spotted it off in the distance so we decided to go for it.  It only looked about a 1/4 of a mile away and mostly flat.  All lies.    Little rollers all the way out, and I mean way.  It was closer to 3/4 of a mile away.  Oops- but we made it!.

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We hung out a bit before heading back down. I was looking forward to opening up my pace on the way down.  I love flying down a mountain.    Remember those rocks and roots I mentioned?   After I almost tumbled off the path for the fourth time in less than 1/2 a mile, I knew running wasn’t going to happen.  Plus my head hurt each time I landed hard and let’s face it, everything was a hard landing.  Guess I hit my head harder than I thought.    I made it back to the swing and hung out there waiting for my mom and S.  My legs were literally vibrating on their own.    If I stopped moving – they started shaking.    Truth- this trail kicked my ass and kept kicking.    It was awesome.  😝

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With the doubling back, making the wrong turn and adding the pink structure I was a little past the 4 mile mark.  By the time we got back to the car, my Garmin registered 7 miles.   Oops.   And I was hungry, I hadn’t eaten breakfast.   But it was awesome.  Have I said that already?  Supposedly there’s a waterfall somewhere but I never saw it.   Something to look for next time!

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Peak 1- Done!  ✅

I was looking to get lost metaphorically not literally but it’s all good.    Even if I foam rolled and cried on Monday.   😅

Do you get lost on trails?  On purpose or not?

Do you like running down mountains?  I love it and always think of that horse scene from Snowy River. 

Ever done something you shouldn’t do close to race day?

Hiking-Trails, Run!, Slacker

Horrible to Harmony

This week was rough.  Which was shown partly in my lack of posting.

The Horrible-

So in an effort to not whine too much, here’s a brief recap.  Monday was a typical Monday except that my stomach graduated from asshat to bastard level and that continued through Wednesday.    Good thing I don’t run on Monday’s right?  Tuesday I was all set to run but my dad had a phone emergency (he’s on my plan).  There was no way for me to run and go to AT&T and still eat dinner at a time that wouldn’t piss off my digestive system further.  So no run.  Wednesday- usual rest day but I needed and wanted to run after missing the day before.   After finishing up at work I headed to the lake path hoping I had enough time to get in 3.5 miles before it got too dark.   It was a horrible, miserable run.    It wasn’t even because of my achy legs or hamstrings.  Those felt fine.  My stomach was horrible, my toes hurt and my head was not happy.  I called it at 2.5 miles.

Waking on Thursday, I found that the headache that had been playing peak-a-boo for days had turned into a full on migraine. Stupid hormones.   I thought about calling in but I am covering another location while their manager is out and knew I couldn’t do that.   One plus, is that it’s a shorter commute.    Never having worked in this location before I kind of felt like I was putting out fires all day and I didn’t know where the fire extinguisher was.   The day ran late and by then my head hurt so bad and I was so nauseated that I didn’t even attempt to run.   Friday was more of the same head wise, work was a little calmer though.      My head hurt so bad that I actually took 2 Aleve for it Thursday.  One thing I’ve never mentioned here is that I dislike taking pills.  Maybe because I have so many prescriptions as it is but I rarely to the point of never take something for pain.     My go to is an icepack for pretty much everything.  I didn’t realize how shocking it would be for me to take something though.  I had some interesting reactions when I mentioned it to some people.  It was useless anyways, they didn’t help.  Oddly the only thing that helped was food.  Not only food but greasy food.  I ate In n Out 2 days in a row for lunch.  The pain actually eased for a few hours.   But I was so ready for the weekend by the time work was over.IMG_9470 IMG_9558  Harmony-

Saturday I was super tired and though my headache had eased, it was still lingering.  I slept in before heading to SLO with my mom.  It’s kind of a monthly thing.   We had both taken running gear so we could potentially go on an easy hike.   I wasn’t sure I would be up to it but I felt like a sloth.  Particularly after 2 days of fast food.  😦     After a good day of shopping we headed to the Harmony Headlands.  It’s short, 4 miles out and back, easy, not technical at all, and has a gorgeous turn around.  IMG_9571 IMG_9554Let’s be clear, this was not a run, it was supposed to be an easy hike.  Which for the most part it was, but damn my mom walks fast.     It was hard to keep up sometimes.  I know I had an off week but come on.   But that’s ok, the scenery made up for it.  Plus the weather was awesome.    I had some phone problems so I didn’t get a lot of pics from the start of the trail but I figured it out by the end.  IMG_9476

All in all, it was a great way to end the day.  My legs were happy and my head was good too.    And we may have seen whales!!!  Well just the spouts, still cool though.

How was your week/ weekend?

Ever had a headache that wanted food?  Or am I just weird?

Hiking-Trails, Run!

Sunday Summit- A Little Lost

Finally.

After 11 days off (stupid flu!!!) I finally got out there and did something!  I also made it to work on Thursday and Friday.   Wowza, Thursday was rough, I was exhausted.  No lie, I got through the day with a lot of Diet Coke.  But anyways, on to Sunday.IMG_8590

With the 25k 7 days away, eek, Sunday was my last day to get in a trail run/hike.   Plus I needed to test run my race day gear.  Because of the narrowness on the trails and the chance for ticks, I am wearing clothing that is a little more form-fitting than usual.   I also had a new hydration vest I needed to test.  The first one didn’t work out so well.    It didn’t fit right with water in the bladder and just didn’t feel like it was made well.  I replaced it with a new one a few weeks back but hadn’t been able to test it yet.  This one doesn’t have a bladder but has 2 water bottles in the front.  I stashed snacks in the back pocket and filled the bottles.   Success!  Well, except I haven’t figured out how to easily access my phone.  But I’ll work on that.  🙂IMG_8603

With me being sick and my mom being slightly hurt, we have readjusted our general time goal for the 25K.  Sunday, the plan was to head out to the race course and hike part of the last out and back.  According to the course map, that section is 8.4 miles.   We had troubles finding the right trail head but we were near another one that my mom had hiked before and really wanted to again.  The sign said it was 3 miles and it looked to be all fire road.   Fine by me, 6 easy miles was probably all I was up for anyways.IMG_8621 IMG_8626

It was freakishly warm!  High 70’s and I was burning up!   Being a fire road, the trail was easy but I was still coughing a bit.   The trail ends near a worn down, beat up, old barn.  It was equal parts creepy and cool.    So of course we had to take a few pictures right?  IMG_8634When we headed back, we passed a tiny, almost hidden single track trail head.  My mother insisted she had hiked it before so we should do it too.  Holy mother of incline.   We gained 700 ft over the next 1/2 mile.    Once we finally made it to the top, we found a picnic table.  We took a break and ate a few snacks.   And enjoyed the view.  🙂   We headed back down another way, hoping it was shorter way back.  Ha!IMG_8639 IMG_8666

Since we weren’t positive what mountain we were on, I pulled up a park map on my phone.   It didn’t really help.  Or maybe I just don’t know how to read it.  Eventually we found our way down to a trail intersection.  According to the map, the right trail led to a dead-end and the left trail was the backside of Hazard peak.    We went left which meant we then had another climb in front of us.     My mom’s knee was just starting to hurt and we coming up on 6 miles and we weren’t even at the top of the mountain.   Our pace had slowed but we mad it to the top once again and enjoyed more views.  There were some mountain bikers at the top discussing trails and I overheard one say that the trail we had not chosen led to another fire road.  Really?!  That would have been so much easier!  Where were they when we could have used directions?IMG_8645 IMG_8670Then it was time to head back towards the parking lot, down the front side of Hazard Peak.  So at least we were able to check out the race course from that direction.  Down hill it’s not too bad, but I am wondering what the uphill will feel like after 8 miles.   Guess I’ll find out next weekend!  We finally made it back to the parking lot- 9.65 miles later.   We survived, haha!  IMG_8701 IMG_8703Even with getting a little turned around, going farther than planned,and getting a little sunburned, it was a good hike.  I don’t think I would have hiked that far without getting turned around but some coughing attacks aside, it was great to get outside and do something again.    Plus it was a good practice run for next weekend.  It gave us a general idea of what kind of time to expect.  Sunday’s hike was just that a hike and we covered 9.65 miles with 1400 ft gained and maintained a 17:00 pace.  Next week the race will add some speed on the downhills but a little slowness when we climb Valencia Peak, but that’s only 1.5 towards the beginning, so fingers crossed?IMG_8734 IMG_8746Sunday’s route took us from fire road to single track, packed dirt to loose shale and then loose sand.   The surroundings changed from scrub brush to trees then to a Eucalyptus grove.   The sun was shining and sometimes we could hear the ocean.  I’d call it a pretty good day!

How was your weekend?

Ever got lost in the woods?  (yes, I wasn’t in the woods but still)  🙂