It all seemed so klar, Herr Komissar.
Sitting under Dwarf Bo Tree in the famed Corral Canyon parking lot under the late noonday sun, the shade was just enough to lower my core temperature down to brown dwarf levels. From there it was just the canonical 4.2 miles back to the Squirrel, a partial afternoon of temporized frolic in the Santa Monicas. But that was yet to come.
Earlier that morning, I was a mere portent of a Jung Mandala. I was heading up the Pacific Coast Highway, where coastal fog gripped Malibu like Aimee Mann's implacably hostile indifferent lyrics. Once up Latigo Canyon, all was a crystalline harshness that promised a fine hot day. So much for the love of a blonde.
Sunday was the Season's First Hot Training Run of the Rest Of Your Life. We've all been here before, and every year it gets flushed away. Hence, the joy of rediscovery. If gamma rays are subatomic iron molecules boring holes in your corpus delicti, then photons are their dilettante cousins, leaving only boiled basal cells in their wake.
Things were pretty quiet on the Backbone Trail from Latigo Cyn east to Corral Canyon. A few hikers out cool-chillin' while the sun is still somewhat moderated. Now turn left and go up the fire road up to Castro Peak. The sun is at your back, and is real happy to see you. Fortunately the breeze is sending bugs elsewhere, probably a Mother's Day chubby-chow brunch.
Dropping down the Bulldog Rd towards Malibu Creek State Park starts the first sightings of Velo-Bobs working their granny gears and Gumby Pursuits in slo-mo. Sweat pours off these hapless few: they are happy campers, this is normal.
But all this pales to the Work I Set Before Me.
I was pondering my own Da Vinci Code, the one that posits that a cryptic musical phrase played on an Ocarina encapsulates the Mystery Of The Age. This was also sharing neurons with my extended meditations on The SuperModel WayStation (a 501.3 [c] entity), tucked up enchanting Escondildo Canyon north of Malibu. Few facilities on the planet are so well-endowed to cope with tragically burned-out supermodels; to help them regain equilibrium in this world, and to enable them to make their own burritos! This amazing facility is funded through the generosity of the Carter-Wallace Foundation, in addition to specific earmarks provided by enlightened Republican Congressmen in less-salubrious climes. Gawd Bless them all.
I continued my ponderings. I was reaching the apogee of my terrestial orbit, glancing off the main parking lot at the park entrance. Trekking poles and zip-off pants were not in strong evidence, whereas triple-wide off-road strollers were. Some were fitted with aftermarket keg and boombox holders.
Turning rightwards up to the group camp, and camelling up at the tap before the last 11 miles back to the start, I savored the salt that wanted to pickle my eyeballs. Now humping and bumping south through Tapia Park, past a California Boy's Prison, then on a short stretch on the blacktop over Malibu Creek with cars hurtling past on their way to the beach.
All pleasures must come to an end, and I abandoned the petro-carbon Scenic Route to subject myself to the tender mercies of the Backbone Trail, westbound.
Oh joy! Somewhere on that climb my most favorite hip flexors decided that I was having too much fun, which made for some fine walking. And since neither Ian Torrence or a White Rhino were to be seen, I was safe.
Midday in the Santa Monica Mountains is a quiet time. There is no water for large stretches of the range, which thins crowds a lot. In this section, there is water at Tapia Park, and that's it between Trippet Ranch and Circle X Ranch if memory serves correctly. Fortunately, I had bloated up and out at the campgrounds in Malibu, before waddling off. Now I was starting to look for shade.
As it was early in the season, we are still soft-shelled crabs, and the sun was only beginning to beat down. Even in a standing pose, I was exposing 10% of my available self to the sun, and I was not gaining. Shuffling up and over the 3 main humps from the 3 way junction where the Pepperdine/Puerco Cyn and Backbone trails all meet up was just good clean fun. I saw the raised sandstone fins of the Backbone just east of Corral Canyon. I also began to look for opportunistic things like GU packages, forgotten bottles, and what the hell, fresh grapes like I found on Mt Wilson a month ago. No such luck.
Which brings me back to the Dwarf Bo Tree in the Corral Canyon parking lot. My slice of paradise that afternoon was the creosoted timber I was sitting on in the limited shade. A breeze lightened my burden of flies. A young Velo-Bob joined me. He was starting to get used to the differences between SoCal and his late-departed New Hampshire. We batted this and other topics around for a pleasant interval. I would've loved to brew up a billy of tea.
Then it was time to go. Standing up was creaky, with the fleeting memory of the date-expired GU and an even earlier ClifBar fading fast. Things seemed to have realigned themselves, and I was able to shuffle with competence.
The last mile to Latigo Cyn is a steep canyon drop and climb out. I passed 2 fresh-looking people who said they were marking the trail for a horse event the next weekend. OK. In that last section I passed over 20 ribbons fluttering from trees and bushes. All in a section where there are no junctions or forks. I suppose on horseback, you would see ribbons every 3 seconds. And if you or your horse were A.D.D, that could be a good thing.
Mr Trail Safety