Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Unknown Trails and Dragon Fly Medicine

I woke up this morning and sat on the couch watching Storage Wars reruns and listening to my brain berate me about my life choices. I didn't feel like doing anything but sitting in my own grossness atop my pity pot and a little voice yelled at me to get the fuck up and go outside.  I dragged myself upstairs and put on my hiking clothes, which were too tight, and my mind continued to berate me about how fat I've gotten and demanded I go back to sit on the couch and eat because it was the only solution...shhhhhhhh. I gathered a liter of water, some string cheese, duct tape incase I got a blister and a sweat rag and headed out the door.

I felt like everyone was looking at me and thinking how fat I was as I trudged up the street toward Mission Gorge and it only got worse as I walked down that busy street toward the Jackson overflow parking area. I kept repeating a Abraham Hicks quotes in my head; things like "ease and flow" and "things are always working out for me". It helped me to focus on my breath and soon I was at my start point.

On my way to work in the mornings I always noticed a trail or fire road that was unknown to me. It looked as is if there was a way to the Fortuna trail that didn't drop you into the gorge and then back out again. I came to the Deerfield loop trail and figured it was that trail that joined with the unknown trail.  

I headed north and right away I was sweaty and huffing and puffing as I toted my oversized frame up this simple little grade. I was feeling discouraged but pushed on and told myself I would finish this little half mile loop and go home and sew.

I tried to draw up memories of who I was before.  Like photographs of me on these trails in the past and how bad ass I felt.  I am Mandie. Remember?? I stepped over a small cough drop wrapper and kept going.  I thought to myself, Mandie doesn't just walk over trash! She picks up people's orange peels for christ's sake! I turned around and picked it up before proceeding around the bend. It was here that I saw there was no connection between the Deerfield loop and this unknown fire road so I decided to continue on the loop.

I stopped for a moment and looked at the quarry and all of the big trucks at work. I thought to take a photo but told myself no and continued on.  I stopped short and said to myself, "Mandie wouldn't do that!  Mandie would have taken a photo of that because it's cool!"  So, I turned myself around again and went back to the look out to take the photo. 

 I started thinking about this Mandie character.  I remembered who she was. Mandie turns short hikes into day hikes because she's taking pictures of weird plants or pulling apart animal scat with a stick to see what they ate, or analyzing tracks in the mud. Mandie loves to be outside and exploring, remember!?

I do remember. A smile came across my face and I followed as the trail dropped down to the river gorge.  I walked thru a grotto of tiny water falls, poison oak and reeds and the air smelled amazing.

Soon I came to a small wooden bridge and crossed over admiring the Datura flowers in full bloom and decided to head to the Visitor's Center Loop which follows the banks of the San Diego river.

I dropped down the fire road toward the Visitor's Center loop and happened upon the smallest butterfly I've ever seen! She was nice enough to let me take a picture of her with my finger for reference.

When I arrived at the junction I remembered how Mandie used to push herself, often to the point of puking on steep trails. I remembered how good that felt, well, after the puking anyway, and opted to climb the insanely steep and long service road that heads toward the Fortunas. 

The river was about two feet deep at the service road so I walked thru the brush to the dam crossing and met a young girl in super short running shorts. She asked which way she should go and I oriented her a bit, sending her toward the road.  I continued on and she headed back my way saying that it was too steep and long for her. "I know right" I thought to myself ,as I started the trudge up up up. 

I walked sloooooow. So, so slow in an attempt to keep my breathing in check and hopefully not barf. I focused on my breath and the space right in front of my feet and told myself, "remember that time you walked basically to fresno? Yeah, we got this." and I was all smiles. I'm back. I thought. I got this.

I came to the 3/4 mark on the road and decided to stop for a water break.  I turned at an unmarked junction and saw that it was a service road for what I thought to be some type of water tank.  I hiked up the little mountain and sat on the concrete cylinders. 

They were doing some heavy construction on the hill and the noise was briefly over shadowed by the sound of the fighter jets training at Miramar. It really was a beautiful day.

I sent Josh a sweaty selfie and headed back out toward the top.

The last little stretch is a bitch but finally I made it to the top! I took another drink of water and tried to figure out where I wanted to go from here.  

 I looked around and saw that I was at the unknown trail I had originally set out to find! I headed south toward the rock quarry.  I made clicking noises at a large crow on a fence as I climbed and he clicked back before flying away with his catch.

 Finally at the top I got my bearings and realized I was over looking the start of the freeway bridge I cross to get on the 15 and the 8! Thats kind of neat! I wanted to press on further but only had about a quarter liter of water so I headed back.

 There were some cat prints in the mud and some very heavily used animal trails and I wondered who was watching me from inside the brush.

 I turned back down the steep road the way I came and watched the cottonwoods shimmering down below. I was surprised that my knees felt so good on the long decent. A pleasant surprise!

 After crossing the river I decided now was a good time to do the Visitors Center trail and headed on. As I headed toward Father Serro Junipero Road I passed what I think was a class gathering acorns near the river banks.

 Once on the road I let my mind wander to quilts, as I am obsessed with quilting now. I thought of how I would make a dragon fly block on a quilt.  Then I thought, I wonder what dragon fly medicine is? I crossed Mission Gorge and headed into my neighborhood. What a blessed life I have, I thought. I am the luckiest girl in the world!

After drinking a couple liters of water I jumped in the shower and when I came out I saw this guy on my window screen!

This is what I found on the internet about Dragonfly Medicine:

The dragonfly totem carries the wisdom of transformation and adaptability in life. As spirit animal the dragonfly is connected to the symbolism of change and light. When the dragonfly shows up in your life, it may remind you to bring a bit more lightness and joy into your life. Those who have this animal as totem may be inclined to delve deep into their emotions and shine their true colors.

Pretty cool day. Then I got into a fight with Josh for cutting a strap of his water bottle, which was, admittedly rude on my part. So the yin and yang is in full balance. :-P


  1. I think it's awesome you got out! One step at a time. Dont beat yourself up too much, we are our worst critics. We would never talk to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.

    1. That's so true, Mary! I'm trying to be in better control of those thoughts. 😊

  2. Hang in there. Those are trails you can access from your front door? Nice.

    1. Yeah! I'm super lucky to live there. Super grateful.

  3. Good to see you back! I hope you will try the PCT or other trails again.

  4. I have been using your blog as a reference for a short trip I have coming up and am just now realizing that we both live in east county. Haha! Im in Santee/border of Lakeside. Not to be creepy or anything but small world.
    -Lauren Herrington