High above sea level, the clouds, the hustle-bustle and noise of every day. Onto the intoxicating trails where the colors are deeper and the contrasts more dramatic, the silence is like music, a simple sip of water is like drinking nectar. It was like I fell *up* Alice’s rabbit hole.
Today kicked off a year of getting high, partying on the trails, and heart pounding ecstasy.
You see, my 50th is awfully close and instead of dreading it and hiding from it, I’ve decided to run head on into it. Celebrating life, the strength of my legs and heart, and all the beauty of this amazing planet by trekking into new trails every month – lifting my spirits and my vantage point.
It’s been a challenging few years since 2015 when I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (an auto immune disease that effects the colon), followed by a blood clot, then a
hyperactive thyroid and more recently the early stages of breast cancer (all under control thankfully). It was hard not to be angry with my body and to think it was failing me (or that I had failed it). But through my most difficult times I found the healing power of nature – eating real food (I have followed a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet or SCD for my colitis since 2017 that has helped me achieve remission) and finding solace on the trails.
Having been able to get my health under control with medical intervention, diet, and lifestyle changes has set the stage for this journey and today I started this yearlong adventure with a goal of covering 2021 miles on foot before my next birthday (and honestly 2020 has been such a shit show, that I’d like to start celebrating the new year a bit early).
The plan is to keep up my regular mileage during the week and then each month choose a new trail system to explore (Backbone, Trans-Catalina Trail, Sedona, and so many more!). I’ll do as much research as possible and all the planning to fuel my activity with real food, but on the trail I’ll let go and free my head.
BULLDOG LOOP (Santa Monica Mountains)
I kicked off my 49th year and the Get High Tour with The Bulldog Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas. The course I took started by parking at Las Virgennes and Mulholland. It was just over 15 miles and had over 3000 ft of elevation gain including a heart-pounding 3 mile climb that covered about 2000 ft early into the course. It’s hard to beat views in all directions of the mountains, the city, the ocean, and stunning rock formations. It’s mostly exposed fire road so it’s not too technical but I was glad for my silly flap hat that protects my face and neck (so I don't look 80 when I turn 50) and trekking poles (I recently bought the Black Diamond Distance Z poles that fold up and weigh practically nothing so they fit easily in my pack – they were well worth the investment).
Along the way, the trail entertained my inner tourist - the MASH site was a fun place to take photos - and my inner recluse with long stretches without people. There were a few crowded trailheads along the way that I noted to myself as good exit routes if I had found myself struggling and needing a ride back to my car. There were no water fountains or bathrooms on the trail except at mile 12 in a parking lot near Malibu Creek Campground, so I carried it all in and left no trace.
This trail is no joke. It took 6 hours to hike the 15.5 miles that my Garmin calculated. It was a warm day in Los Angeles that reached the low 80s but several pockets of heat, the climbing, and lack of shade made it feel hotter at times.
MUNCHIES (aka what I ate)
I ate and hydrated well the night before with Trace Mineral electrolytes so my body would have a good foundation to start on. I ate a light breakfast of coffee, 2 hard boiled eggs, an SCD "chocolate" cookie (it was my birthday so I've been baking), and a banana within an hour of starting.
What I Packed - 50 oz water (topped up an extra 10oz at mile 12). One medium fresh apple (pre-cut to save space), 4 celery sticks, 2 Nature Nate’s on-the-go honey packets, about 20 Parmesan Whisps (available at Costco), 6 mejool dates and ¼ cup of raw pecans, 3 SCD banana pancakes, Chomps beef jerky stick, 2 mini That’s It bars. Total was about 900 calories.
What I consumed – apples (amazing sweet treat at the top of that crazy hill), celery (minimal calories but so very refreshing), half the Whisps (a nice salty treat), one honey packet (easy to eat and digest while moving), most of the dates/pecans, 2 pancakes, one mini That’s It bar. About 550 calories. I drank every ounce of water.
THE AFTER-HOURS PARTY:
Upon return to the car, I drank about ¼ cup of Bubbie’s sauerkraut juice to prevent leg cramps. I had frozen it in a baby food pouch the night before and it was waiting for me in the car with my insulated bottle of iced water. Within an hour I had a big Cobb salad with chicken breast, egg and bacon for protein, fresh vegetables, and olive oil and lemon wedges as dressing. Lots more water and a celebratory espresso with honey! Light stretching immediately after but not too rigorous on overworked muscles and a light foam rolling session several hours later once my muscles had time to settle down. The next morning an easy paced 2.5 mile walk in the hills with the dog to get the blood flowing.
15.5 miles. 6 hours. 1700 calories burned. Average HR 121. 3,000ft total elevation gain. This hike was amazing. I had been talking about visiting this course for 10 years and somehow never made it out. It was great to be on part of Backbone (that’ll be my November trail system) and to catch some amazing views. I’d like to go back when it’s cooler and the ocean views aren’t clouded over. It was a heck-of-a high!
About the Gutsy Runner!
Lucie is a runner, hiker, and fitness coach who follows the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for her ulcerative colitis. She is currently on a year long birthday celebration that includes covering 2021 miles on foot and exploring some of the areas most iconic and beautiful trails. Read more