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Waiting for el Nino

December 10, 2015


During this afternoon’s shoeless run up and down the ridges between Santiago Oaks and Irvine Park . . . it felt like the hills and critters and plants were all waiting, like the wilted black sage (above) . . . holding their collective faded-and-dusty breaths in anticipation of the winter rains.

This being a Mediterranean climate, winter is when we get our precipitation, but for anyone who’s been hiding under a rock for the last several years, our rains have been sparse, and California is in High Media Alert for the all-but-guaranteed-by-meteorologists-who-should-know, El-Nino-induced, Massive Winter Storms of 2015-16.

So I took this “before” shot of (bone-dry) Santiago Creek, just below the Villa Park Dam, to have something to contrast with the raging torrent that should appear in roughly two weeks and thirty minutes.


A bit further downstream is another crossing, near the Santiago Oaks parking lot . . . this lovely riparian paradise has not gone dry yet:


Our brief season of leaf-color continues; coupled with recent pink sunsets . . . altogether lovely:

Another sight that always makes my day: mule deer along the trail (in Orange County these creatures are still rare enough to be considered a treat to glimpse).


What does not bring a smile to my face: trail trash! This sorry lot is from my two-hour trek this afternoon . . . and one of the reasons I carry a small pack when I run–to carry not only food and water (and tape and a whistle and a knife and ID and keys, etc.) . . . but to also have a place to attach all the crap I find along the way. Grrr . . .


There is one category of refuse I refuse to pick up, however: anything that looks liked it’s been used to wipe a human orifice of any kind . . . ick!


Still . . . being able to run our fluff-dusty local trails barefoot for two hours in the early afternoon (meaning few folks out on the trails) did make me jump for joy:

screen shot 2

(My new trick for catching guaranteed air in a photo? Set the camera on video mode, then do a screen capture with editing software . . . a lot easier than trying to coordinate my jump with the camera’s timer . . . )

Happy dusty trails . . . let the rain (and MUD) begin!






5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2015 9:27 pm

    We’ve got the rains and storms up here in Washington. I had to keep out of the woods today (my normal little barefoot run) and do the Larry Scott trail along the water instead, where spray from the waves off of the bay was blowing across parts of it. Not enough gravel to keep me happy, actually. I’m still in that phase of learning where, if a surface is too smooth I fall back into bad habits. Our city water drought with water rationing was just declared over Dec. 7th, even though we’ve been getting rain for more than a month. It was too much at once and caused too much sediment to refill our reservoir.
    Around here they call deer “rats on stilts”. There are more in town than out of town it seems.
    Hope you get your rain and not too much flooding! I’m looking forward to the pictures after the rains!

    All the best,

    • December 15, 2015 2:21 pm

      Hi Scott! Thanks for the note . . . it’s hard to imagine “rain and storms” down south here 🙂
      (We did, however, have a taste of wet weather over the weekend . . . just enough to dampen the trails for yesterday’s run, but not enough to create any juicy mud.) That sounds awesome to be able to run in woods or near a bay with wave-spray (ha . . . fun opportunity to rhyme). I can’t believe you’ve had a drought declared at this late date?! It’s been interesting to see a few lawns go brown in the neighborhood this fall. . . but there’s still lots of folks filling the streets/gutters with overspray. Sigh. I’m a native plant habitat kind of landscaper myself, so I am hoping that this drought will spur people into considering how to create a habitat patchwork, even in the city (since we’ve filled our yard with California native plants, we’ve had so much fun watching birds and lizards frolic. No deer, though 🙂 )

      Happy Barefoot Trails! I’m now going to comment on YOUR comment on Jae Grunke’s fabulous blog:

  2. December 10, 2015 8:31 pm

    What lovely views along the way but the trash is a disappointment. It’s hard to understand why people can’t take it back home with them. Thank you for doing your bit by picking it up! It does look quite dry so I hope you get some rain soon. Do you enjoy splashing about in mud? It sounds like fun, although a bit slippery. 🙂

    • December 15, 2015 2:26 pm

      Hi Jane! Thanks for the note . . . we did get a bit of rain over the weekend . . . not quite enough for mud-splashing . . . which I enjoy so much I put together a video about it:

      I really enjoy your blog . . . here’s a link so others can find it too:

      Happy (soon-to-be-muddy) Trails!

      • December 15, 2015 10:16 pm

        Thanks for sharing my blog link and the great video, Thea! 😀

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