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This morning’s two-hour barefoot trail run: all gain, no pain

August 31, 2013

End of August sunrise

With more hot, humid weather expected, I hit the trails of Irvine Park/Santiago Oaks early today.

My goal: to run for two hours up and down the hills of Barham Ridge.

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It was peaceful (for a while), but then the Saturday crowds showed up. It’s always tough to not get grumpy whilst having to jump clear of approaching mountain bikers.

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Heading up Coachwhip Trail; Robber’s Peak in the background.

What was fun about this pair of young guys was that I beat them up the 20-minute switchback factory that is Coachwhip Trail. That always puts me in a “go-go granny” good mood.

IMG_5948 (640x480)Amazing herds of sheep clouds kept temps in the low 80s the whole time–and kept the trail surface from heating up. Perfect summer running weather!

IMG_5940 (480x640)Being the first one out on the trail for the day gave me the chance to enjoy lots of critter tracks.

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Snake signs, but no snake sightings. Maybe next time . . .

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Sharing the trail with deer.

Coyote scat full of cactus tuna seeds makes for a dung beetle feast.

Coyote scat full of cactus tuna seeds makes for a dung beetle feast.

The white cliffs of Catalina Island glow  offshore.

The white cliffs of Catalina Island glow offshore.

It was so humid even my shins were sweating, which gave the abundant dust something to cling to.

It was so humid even my shins were sweating, which gave the abundant dust something to cling to.

Two hours later, back at the car.

Two hours later, back at the car.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep repeating: I’ve not been able to run like this for years (or ever?).  Losing my shoes (and finding the right physical therapist) have made all the difference, and for that I thank God.

The sheer joy of bounding, prancing, loping, and dancing (barefoot!) up and down the hilly trails outside my hometown of Orange, CA–home also to all kinds of fabulous native plants, animals, rocks, etc.–has transformed my running into a series of surprising adventures.

Last week's full moon hike led to this friendly encounter.

Last week’s full moon hike led to this friendly encounter.

But there’s lots to enjoy “closer to home” — in my back yard full of native plants (and the critters who love them too).

Manzanita (lower left); desert willow (center).

Canyon copperleaf (foreground, left) Manzanita ( left); desert willow (center).

'Winifred Gilman' sage: pretty in purple and super aromatic.

‘Winifred Gilman’ sage: pretty in purple and super-scented: aroma therapy out my back door.

California fuchsia: late-summer sustenance for our neighborhood hummingbirds.

California fuchsia: late-summer sustenance for our neighborhood hummingbirds.

In my yard or in our local hills: late summer brings its own austere beauty. How thankful I am to be able to experience it all shoelessly.

And–making my two-hour goal is another step on the way toward the “barefoot trail marathon” dream. Maybe in 2014?

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