You’ll never believe what strange critters are roaming the hills just outside your own home town!
Ha! I just read an article about how to write “click-bait” titles, and thought I’d give it a try. (Action figures sold separately; actual results may vary*)
(*from another entertaining web spot: a useful page of disclaimers)
Anyway, here’s the latest in my ongoing series of “barefootprintselfies” that I’ve been collecting for the last almost-six years: (you’re welcome, reader Brian 🙂 )
This image gives a hint at the most recent epiphany of my decade-plus quest to get my body capable of running an ultra marathon: Crawling! (Yep. That’s a hand-print in the dust to the left of the toe impression.)
Here’s a click-bait-worthy quote: “Yes, crawling, a seemingly childish and foolish ‘exercise,’ could be the one thing that improves your health, your strength, your mobility, and your performance in any athletic area. It could even improve your ability to think, focus, and reason.”
It’s not as easy as all those babies make it look, though; here’s the “wrong way” to do it:
What’s less than optimal in the photo above? I’m moving my left arm and left leg forward at the same time. The goal is cross-over motion, where the left leg and right arm move together, as I’m attempting below.
Besides being a really challenging workout (I started at 20 “steps” and am up to doing 40 at a time, several times throughout my run), it’s a tough “mind game” as well, for at least two reasons:
- I usually am out on the local trails during late afternoon/sunset, which is “breakfast time” for mountain lions. How convenient for them to find me floundering down the trail, trying so hard to coordinate my left arm/right leg movement that I never even notice until I feel that crashing weight on the back of my neck right before it snaps and . . . (OK, enough of that horror channel. Back to our regularly scheduled program . . . )
- As hard as it may be to tell, from all the ridiculous barefoot selfies I relentlessly post to this blog, I do have a shred or two of dignity left . . . which means I’m trying to work in my crawling segments when I’m pretty sure no other trail users are around. However, this being Orange County, home to lots of other trail lovers . . . well, I’m also trying to prep my psyche for the inevitable awkward moment when I crawl around a switchback and find myself staring at the shoelaces of someone’s hiking boots.
Here’s something even cooler than crawling I ran into the midst of a few days ago: a big flock of robins going crazy for toyon berries.
Like deer, these creatures are common throughout much of the county, but rare here in Orange County, where I have never seen a robin on someone’s lawn, let alone out in the hills.
Research time! I discovered that robins travel in flocks when they are migrating (safety in numbers from flying predators, which have a harder time distinguishing single birds in chaotic wheeling throng).
This group (20-30+) was flittering and chittering and knocking brilliant toyon berries into the leaf letter, creating a syncopated song of muted taps that resounded throughout my favorite little forest of oak and sycamore and cottonwood outside of Irvine Regional Park.
The day’s trail eventually led me to the back side (inside the catch basin) of Villa Park dam . . . in the final day before el Nino struck this week. Where will the water line be next time I venture this way?
It was a birder-ific day . . . as I ran (and crawled) along past the nearby cemetery, I heard gnatcatchers and startled puffs of (unidentified) sparrows. Here’s a shrub-full just before they spotted the dark eye of my little camera staring at them (how rude of me! Sorry friends!). There’s at least eight birds in the photo . . . but the best part is missing: the tiny whooshing their wings made as they fled for better cover . . .
One final bird shot from the day, below. What makes it memorable for me is the fact that, somehow, I managed to get an image of something on the move. (My pocket camera works best when things hold still, stuff like rocks and feet . . . )
On a completely unrelated note: what if we could BRAID our toes?! A world-gallivanting friend was in town this week; she stopped by to catch up and show me One More Surprising Thing Our Feet Can Do! (Results may vary; must be present to win; get medical attention if symptoms persist.)