I thought about going for a run when I arrived at Tassajara on Memorial Day, but it was already in the eighties when we got out of the car, and relaxing seemed like a better idea. During my first week I was happy hiking and doing a lot more yoga than usual; having been feeling some misalignment in my spine since my last visit to Tassajara in April (which I partly attributed to the long hours of driving), it was wonderful to feel things seeming to fall back into place on the last full day of yoga with Lirio.
The following Monday, when the retreats were over, I set off for a run to the Wind Caves; it was getting hotter by the time I left, and these days there is less shade than when I first ran the trail. It felt like hard work with all the climbing on the way up; in the baths afterwards I felt completely wiped out.
People at Tassajara had been getting sick, and by the end of the day I had the onset of a sore throat, which did not lay me as low as it had some residents, but curtailed my physical activity, at least in relation to what I had been planning to do.
On Friday, the last day I was there, trying not to put any pressure on myself (I slept in rather than going to the zendo, but could not bring myself to run before breakfast as I had contemplated), I decided that I felt up for running the Tony Trail, and surprised myself by plugging away right to the top. My body memory of these trails is very distinct, even down to where I might need to avoid poison oak. I remember running the Tony Trail with Bryan many times, and having to dig hard as he pushed up the hardest middle sections; this time I paced myself over the earlier easy slopes, and just had to grit my teeth as I counted down the various middle stretches before the final more gentle sections. As with all climbs, coming back down gave me a real sense of what I had accomplished.
I invoked Terry many times on both runs and the hike I took up the creek during the week; he had been living at Tassajara in the years before I did, and we only overlapped in my first summer I think, but I remember all the work (mostly single-handedly as far as I can tell) he did to reroute the first third of the Tony Trail, which had previously been brutally steep, by adding in switch-backs across the first gullies. He had also maintained the upper creek trail for a couple of miles, and I had followed it happily many times. Now, even with the trail re-cut a few summers ago to allow crews to access the small fire that had occurred up on the Church Creek, it was over-run with poison oak in many places. When I went this time, I stayed almost entirely in the creek – though I still had a rattlesnake rattling at me from a few feet away while I was on the bank one time (happily it was much more interested in slinking away than attacking).
Had I not been sick I would also have gone downcreek as well, where Terry had discovered and maintained a horse trail that bypassed the second narrows by going over the cliffs. I would have been curious to see if that was still there. Maybe next year.
A view back down the Tony Trail from a previous summer.
These photos show how the fire has affected the trails as well. The first valley section of the Church Creek Trail up to the Wind Caves is traditionally called The Pines. This first photograph, from 2007, shows them growing up the valley side.
The following year, they were all burnt:
The chaparral has grown up in the absence of the tree cover, and the trail was rerouted on the way up the hillside to help fight erosion on the barer slopes. The Tony Trail, by the way, winds its ways up the gullies of the hill in front of the tallest one on the right hand side of the picture.