Monday, May 11, 2009

Sunday morning hangover cure

With the taste of Seabright Brewery ale still on my tongue, I reluctantly set off with my friend Scotty for a long, easy run in Big Basin State Park on Sunday morning. My goodness! It is the perfect time of year to enjoy this trail. Even with a hangover, I had a great time (well, once I worked all that beer out of my system and then until I ran out of water toward the end) and loved the views of Berry Creek Falls, our turnaround point on the out-and-back run.

You can pick up the trail at Waddell Beach, which is on Highway 1 near the county line, or up at park headquarters outside of Boulder Creek. We opted for the former, which means the run to the waterfall is about six miles if you stick to the bike- and horse-friendly dirt fire road. Pretty quickly, the trail finds the creek, then follows the water up. You cross several bridges -- one that's just two steel I-beams cabled to the rocks -- and climb a few steep hills along the way. The fire road gives way to single-track trail about a mile from the falls and those last few hundred meters just fly by.

It's hard to not linger at the falls, a 70-foot (ish) drop that is arguably one of the prettiest waterfalls on the California Coast. The viewing platform has a nice bench and some rails (perfect for stretching) and on Sunday there were a few hikers passing through to chat with. But staying too long under the dense redwood canopy chills you, as we found out Sunday.

Making our way back down, it seemed like we breezed down the dirt path -- probably thanks to the slight decline and caffeine fix (Espresso Love Gu). Things were fine until I decided to stop and pee in the bushes. I spotted a little lizard who seemed friendly (he was watching me squat!) so I picked him up to show Scotty. Halfway back to the trail, the little guy bit my thumb! I "accidentally" flung him into the bushes.

The lizard wasn't the only interesting wildlife we encountered. We saw monarchs flap past and watched little fish flick around in the crystal-clear stream. There are a couple of ag fields early in the run, which gave way to lush green forest and fields of tiny baby-blue wildflowers.

Near the beginning of the fire road, there is a trail that loops off of it for hikers, I suppose to give them a reprieve from the bikes and horses. We hadn't taken this on the way out, but decided to come back on it. I'd never been up that way before and didn't know that, with my waterbottle bone dry and the sun starting to blaze down a bit (sorry, 80 degrees is hot!) we were again climbing hills, these ones baked in golden sunshine.

More than once, I stopped to walk. I felt like a huge wimp, especially with Scotty jetting in front of me while playing tour guide (ex: "these are trees"). But he put up with my exhaustion -- this was my longest run since the marathon two weeks prior -- and even pushed me up a hill.

We descended right to Horse Camp, car-camping spot about a half-mile in from the beach, and filled our water bottles from the newly installed water pump before finishing out the run and jumping in the 55-degree ocean. It took us just a bit more than two hours, so I'm guessing it was about a 13-mile trek.

Our reward for running -- and the sole topic of conversation during the last few miles of our run -- were burgers and cold drinks (Coke and juice, not beers) at the Davenport Bakery, Bar and Grill. Yum! Food tastes so much better after a good workout!

And then I went home to nap.

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