A couple of days ago, for the first time in a long time, I went for a run with a watch, GPS or heart rate monitor. I was feeling a little down and felt that a short run would do me good. So, I decided to head out the door without any electronics. I told my wife I would head down into the canyon and be back in 30 minutes.
So, I headed out the door, checked my form and started a leisurely run over to the trail that would take me down about 300 feet into a canyon. I wasn’t quite sure how far I would run, what my course would be or if I wanted this to be an easy or hard run. Sometimes, no plan is a good plan.
It’s a somewhat steep hill going down and the day was somewhat warm. Last summer I got into the habit of either singing or snapping my fingers as I head down on narrow trails. I do this for good reason, last summer is when I got too close for comfort to a rattle snack. So, I try to make a little noise to let them know I’m coming. I got the idea from mountain bikers who have bells attached to their bikes as they careen around the trails.
The descent is about 300 feet and takes me to a creek. When I got to the bottom, the small bridge was washed to an angle from rain last week. So, I spent about 10 minutes or so trying to straighten it out. I gave up and threw a couple of rocks in the water to make sure the step to the bridge was easy. Once I got across, I decided to head on over to Paradise Falls, about a mile away.
I started feeling really good on the way to the falls. Since this was later afternoon on a weekday, I had only passed one hiker. So, I felt a great sense of calm listening to my footsteps and my breathing.
I checked out the falls and say a young couple sitting on a rock. So, I decided not to disturb them. I turned and started to backtrack on the trail from where I came. At that point, I started thinking how good I felt, so I turned around and kept moving alongside the creek. From the falls, you can continue to a developed campsite. That was fun as there were two more stream crossings, I got my left foot wet.
When I got the campsite, I was planning to head back up canyon along a fire road. However, I saw a sign for the lizard rock trail. This is the backside of a trail that is fairly long. From the starting point, I had only taken it to the actual Lizard Rock. But, never beyond. So, I figured why not and kept going. I knew I was in for a tough run because from the bottom of the canyon to the top of lizard rock was about a 500 foot climb in less than a mile.
Just as I started up the steep switchbacks, a few guys on mountain bikes came screaming downhill. I jumped to the edge of the narrow trail and hugged the mountain. They yelled out that there were five more riders. I kept an eye ahead as I started back on the trail. Sure enough, in less than 60 seconds, the all five riders passed me.
As I got the steep part, I tried a new running technique of crossing over my feet at a slight angle as opposed to running straight up. The hill was tough, but I felt unbelievably happy to be running up, a slew of positive thoughts kept passing through my head. I stopped a couple of time, but this was because I wanted to take in the view.
The last 40 feet are very steep to get up to Lizard Rock, so I mostly walked it. But, from the top, I felt great.
This picture is the trail to Lizard Rock from the front. I stood on top for about two minutes to soak up the view and felt great. I took the front trail back home. It was all downhill.
From this point, I felt like I was running on air. My legs were refreshed at the top and I took it easy coming down. As a matter of fact, this run was my easiest run in years, despite the hill climb. I just felt great.
Lizard Rock is just to the left/top of the center of this map:
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No Running Watch, GPS or Heart Rate Monitor
I have a general idea of how long this run took. I stopped at a drinking fountain near a nature center. I stopped at the falls and a couple of times up the mountain and the top of the mountain. Not once did I wonder how long I had been running or how far.
The next time you need to clear your head, don’t just go for an easy run, go to explore. You never know where your mind will take you.