I decided to close 2017 with a long out-and-back along Arroyo Trabuco Trail in the Rancho Santa Margarita area. Off of Antonio Parkway in Las Flores, there’s a quiet little park on Oak Tree Road where I parked my truck. From there, I made the trek across Antonio Parkway, and after a tenth of a mile down, I took a bike path that runs behind some of the homes near and about Tijeras Creek Golf Course. After a little more than a tenth of a mile, a bit after the bike trail veers to the right, you’ll find the Tijeras Creek trailhead. I took that down to Arroyo Creek Trail, but not before venturing off on a single track where I came upon a newly erected tree swing in middle of the wilderness (well, kinda the wilderness). The tree’s branches were decorated with juniper sprigs loosely wrapped with tiny Christmas lights. The lights were battery operated, and after close inspection I could see that the white-yellow lights were still illuminating. So tiny they were, I didn’t notice at first that they were still lit, and I wondered who was it who was out here in the darkness swinging on this tree surrounded by tiny Christmas lights?
View from the swing:
Arroyo Trabuco Trail was surprisingly empty for a New Year’s Eve day. Not that it was completely void of people, there were plenty of cyclists, and several horseback riders too. But I don’t really recall seeing any other hikers, and only one runner. The weather was lovely – mid sixties. And the creek crossings were all very manageable. I didn’t get my feet wet even once! Even though I was hiking, and not running, I still had a time goal being that we had a big New Year’s Eve dinner at home planned. My husband was doing the main cooking, but I still had the green beans and potatoes to prepare. Thus, I set my goal at 3 Miles per hour. At first thought, that may seem relatively easy to achieve – after all, a twenty minute pace will cover that. That’s if you never stop. But I stop to take photos, to listen in, to inspect oddities, not to mention take potty breaks. Stops quickly eat away at that 20 minute pace – stops, in fact, erode your pace faster than you would imagine. Needless to say, I had to really grind the miles out to keep up with my goal. And I found myself a few times running some just to make up the time lost for stopping.
Arroyo Trabuco Trail:
In all, this out-and-back totaled 12.15 miles. Surprisingly, I can still do that. Granted, this was an easy trail to pursue such a length. But pushing it to make my hiking pace – yikes. I felt that back at home for the remainder of the night. A hot bath rejuvenated me. And I managed to see in the new year, plus some. I often don’t make it until midnight on New Year’s, mainly because I don’t much care about the ending of one year and the beginning of another. Or so I claim! I think that I really do care. I care enough to feel a bit of gratitude for being able to see another year roll in. And I care enough to think about who I am as a year comes to an end, not in a gloating sort of way, and not in a self-flagellating sort of way, but in a self-reflective sort of way.
How far have I ventured from who I desire to be? I pondered this question as I closed out 2017. Actually, I have been asking myself this question for many, many months now. The answers just culminated as I closed out 2017. And being that I closed out 2017 by the way, I input the remainder of my workouts on the eve of this new year into my Access database. After importing the database into Excel (I can find the answers to my questions much easier in Excel than Access), I jotted down various totals (running, elliptical, calories, elevation etc.) to include in this Closing Out 2017 blogpost. But then I lost the slip of paper. Frankly, I was too lazy to import the database again (I didn’t save the Excel file because my computer is a mess with hundreds of unnecessary files). Really though, it doesn’t matter, these totals and such. I can be a keeper of records if that somehow soothes me. But I do not need to be enslaved by them. And that’s what I tend to let record keeping do, I let it be a negative, a downfall. I decided that as I close out 2017 that I can go ahead and relish my downfalls – the record keeping, the self-loathing, the self-debilitating multi-tasking, etc., etc., etc.. I can use these things to push me forward, to help me become the person that I have lost. Not sure exactly how, but I know somewhere in my faults, these things that really way me down, there’s also tools to get me what I want. And what I want is this:
To wander the trails once again for miles and miles and miles at a time,
To write like I used to, pages and pages several times a week,
To read like I used to, to get lost in wonderful stories, and learn about those things that stir wonder within,
To be Easily Amused (I used to be so easily amused. Not so much anymore).
To not be ashamed of who I am
And lastly, to strive to ALWAYS be honest with myself.
I think that’s about it. That’s not too much to ask of myself is it? It’s not like these are New Year Resolutions. They are goals. They are my desires. They are extremely difficult, and they are not difficult at all. It all depends on how I chose to approach it. And why not, at the beginning of a new year, state these goals for the record? I think that it’s a good thing I made it past midnight and welcomed in 2018. It helped me flush out a few things.
Happy New Year everyone! I wish for you a successful and self-reflective new year.
My chosen music video to close out 2017: