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My First Barefoot Steps + recent “trail news”

December 20, 2013
Our native toyon provides bright berries just in time for Christmas.

Our native toyon provides bright berries just in time for Christmas.

The busy folks over at the Barefoot Beginner web site recently solicited runner testimonials about “My First Barefoot Steps.” As a writing teacher, I’m particularly fond of “prompts” to get the writing wheels rolling, so I had fun revisiting my own “First Barefoot Steps.” Thanks for posting my essay, Chris!

We’ve had quite a range of weather the last couple of weeks: from daytime highs in the low 80s (F) down to the upper 30s (F) at night, and from brilliant blue skies to lovely gloomy rainclouds. Here’s a few shots from recent trail runs in and around Irvine, Santiago Oaks, and Peters Canyon Regional Parks . . . on the outskirts of my hometown: Orange, CA.

Lots of clay soils make for fun "mud shoes" when it rains.

Lots of clay soils make for fun “mud shoes” when it rains.

Our coastal sagebrush (Artemesia californica) loses just about all its leaves during dry times; a little December rain will perk it up.

Our coastal sagebrush (Artemesia californica) loses just about all its leaves during dry times; a little December rain will perk it up.

Running in the rain: the only mud-spa treatment my toes need.

Running in the rain: the only mud-spa treatment my toes need.

Then the sun came out for a few days. I remember making "snowmen" out of tumbleweeds like these when I was a kid.

Then the sun came out for a few days. I remember making “snowmen” out of tumbleweeds like these when I was a kid.

From the top of the ridge trail at Peters Canyon: views all the way across 26 miles of Pacific Ocean to Catalina Island.

From the top of the ridge trail at Peters Canyon: views all the way across 26 miles of Pacific Ocean to Catalina Island.

77 (F) degrees: in December!

77 (F) degrees: in December!

Two days later: same high clouds, but now only 52 (F).  A difference of 25 degrees: both are fun temps to run at.

Two days later: same high clouds, but now only 52 (F). A difference of 25 degrees. I have no favorite running weather . . . to use a cliche: “it’s all good” when you’re out on the trail.

The last of the cottonwood leaves have hit the trail at Irvine Park.

The last of the cottonwood leaves have hit the trail at Irvine Park.

My least-favorite surface: 50 yards of eroded asphalt on the ridge near Robber's Peak.

My least-favorite surface: the 50 yards of eroded asphalt on the ridge near Robber’s Peak.

Deer wandering in the rain.

Deer wander in the rain on the outskirts of Irvine Park.

Using my camera flash to light up a Western toad on a full moon hike.

This Western Toad seems stunned by my camera flash on a full moon hike in Bommer Canyon this week.  Due to an odd weather phenomenon called an “inversion layer,” it was 70+ (F) on the ridge  . . .  at 8 pm on a December evening.

The lovely trail through The Willows at Irvine Park.

One of my favorite ways to end a run: the lovely trail through The Willows at Irvine Park. Our native sycamore are putting on a brilliant leaf show this year.

A Christmas gift from the trail yesterday: a new pair of Tifosi shades. The lenses were popped out, and there's a few scratches where someone hit the ground, but they're light and comfortable (and retail for $49.99!).

A Christmas gift from the trail yesterday: a new pair of Tifosi shades. The lenses were popped out, and there’s a few scratches where someone hit the ground, but they’re light and comfortable (and retail for $49.99!).

After two hours on the trail yesterday (at 52 (F), my toes were happy to toast by the fire.

After two hours on the trail yesterday (at 52 F), my toes were happy to toast by the fire. Merry Christmas! I’m so thankful to be able to run again . . . I’m hoping 2014 will be the year of my first trail ultramarathon . . .

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