Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Turn Toward Better Days - Pedro Fages Monument

Well, It seems I really am back on the trail this time! I know I've posted that a few times, but they've all been false starts so I waited until I had a few trips under my feet before I posted. I've spent the last couple of years trying to sort myself out and have come to the conclusion that I don't belong on all of those psych meds. There is nothing wrong with me, if I live where I belong, which is outside. Josh laughs at me because I can spot an owl in an oak grove from a mile away, but I can't find my car keys (and they're usually in my hand.) I have weaned off of the psych meds that made me so crazy (Cymbalta is the devil) and I'm ultimately working to get off of meds completely. I've been on psych meds since I was about 23 years old and I think they do more harm than good. I am hopeful to see who I am unmedicated. 

Josh and I had a "come to Jesus moment" in our relationship last week. At first I thought we were done, we weren't going to make it, but after a long night of tossing and turning we found level ground and it lead us to start hiking in the evenings. We've been doing the Oak Grove Loop in Mission Trails which is about a mile long, and being out has loosened something up in Josh that I really needed to see. 
He had been so stowik and distant I didn't really have anyone to relate or talk to. I felt I was freaking out all by myself, But our first night out Josh got really nostalgic and emotional and since then our communication been much better.

I really love seeing all of the crepuscular creatures and of course the alpenglow on our evening strolls. We spend the time talking about the PCT and the things we've learned about ourselves since. We talk about how we're going to make our escape from this life and move into something more fitting. It feels good to have the camaraderie and communication back in our relationship.

Kwaay Paay in the evening

 I have been trying to build up my trail legs slowly on our evening hikes but I pulled a classic Mandie and decided I was going to go exploring on my day off. I have been trying to break in a pair of Altra Lone Peaks and thought I I was doing ok, so I took them out to Mount Laguna area to the Pedro Fages Monument off of the S-1.

 I have driven by this monument countless times and always wondered what the trail was about. After a morning of driving around in the mountains and looking adoringly at this year's crop of thru hikers, I found my way to the trailhead. 

The air was warm but there was a breeze as I set out. The trail climbed gently away from the highway and toward the PCT. I could tell this was a super underused trail as it was so narrow only an animals gait would be comfortable. My feet pronated inward uncomfortably and I tried to correct myself with my hiking poles, which, being as overweight as I am, was no small feat.

 The trail wound around a small mountain and I felt like I was way out there! It was quiet and bright and I admired the varying shades of green in the hillside drainage. A crow flew with me for most of the way and the clouds danced in the sky. 

 Finally the narrow trail widened up to a road and everything went from beige to that familiar Anza Borrego red.

 Looking at this selfie my first instinct is to point out all of my flaws. I thought to myself, I won't put it on the internet, I look terrible, but then I decided that if there is one thing my blog is known for it is honesty. I have always put it all out there even when it didn't cast me in the best light, and so I think it only fitting to show how I am today and where I'm starting from. I've learned so much about myself in the last couple of years and I am striving to be non judgemental and unafraid around other people, so first I need to be that way with myself.

After crossing thru a pipe gate I could see where the road and the PCT divert and was also interested to see that this is where the Trans County Trail runs. The TCT is a route from the Salton Sea all the way to the Coast. Hmmmm maybe one day I'll try that one! But one step at a time...

I remembered being at this point on the PCT. We had just returned from the trail after my feet blew up and I was so disappointed my feet weren't better!  Like they should have magically regenerated overnight in Julian. As much as I wish I could talk to my past self and tell her to chillax, I do admit I was glad to not be doing that long hot descent into scissors crossing. The temps have been insane in San Diego this last week! 

 I decided to follow the road further passed the junction and turned 180 degrees to start hiking up an incline that was relatively steep by my out of shape standards. The incline hurt my lungs less than my feet! My transition to a zero drop shoe is going to be a slow one I can tell. 
I was admiring the clouds trying to take my mind off of the ache in my inner ankle when all of a sudden I spotted this good sized rattlesnake about a foot in front of me. I stopped short and retreated a bit and asked him if he would move. He stuck his tongue out a few times before coiling up and slithering away with just a few lazy shakes of his tail.
I gave the bush a wide berth and continued up.

The trail didn't have a defined end point, at least not one that didn't descend into the steamy desert below, so I set my sights on a couple of pine trees as my turn around point. Josh helped me track it later and we decided stopping here made the hike about four miles round trip.

Once at the pines I looked across Chariot Canyon and could see tiny chrome domes bouncing along the side of the mountain. Good luck you sections, myths and thrus! No matter how far the trail takes you, you can never go back to the person you were before it. Embrace your square pegedness! 

It was high noon and hot as I turned back toward my truck. The walk out was brutal on my feet and I stopped several times hoping to adjust my shoes but it was no use. I pushed thru and when I got in my truck I found a big swollen lump above my inner ankle and I could hardly move my foot. I popped some advil and mashed the pedals on the drive out since I couldn't flex or point my toes until things loosened up. I did some reading and it seems that is an injury caused by over pronation and fallen arches which would make sense in a barefoot shoe. I iced everything when I got home and decided it is probably wise for me to put in some superfeet until I drop a bit of this weight, then I can start training  my barefoot muscles with a more reasonable load.

All rested up I got to spend the rest of the night babysitting my new gorgeous nephew Wyatt (aka baby chunk cheese). I cannot wait for him to get big enough to hit the trails with me! Isn't he beautiful!!

Things are getting better, in fact, dare I say things are good. After spending years looking out the window of my car and imagining the sound of the dirt under my feet it is good to finally hear it.  This week we'll continue our evening hikes and then this weekend I'm off to San G for some much needed solo day hikes! I actually pulled a permit! John's Meadow here I come! I can't wait!


  1. Good to see you back on the trail!

    1. Thanks! Good to be back! Thanks for sticking with me!

  2. Stick with it Mandie. Sometimes we hold ourselves to ridiculous standards and don't see short term gains adding up to anything. When I hike with my son or husband I still feel like the slowest thing on earth. Recently though, I took two mom friends on my daily peak climb and was really surprised to find out I was the jack rabbit that day. They've since declined to hike with me ever again. A change of perspective helps once in a while.

    1. Thanks Brewella! I wanna go hiking with you!