So, after slipping and sliding in my Nike tennis shoes, Jeff and I travel to the nearest Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Murietta to purchase some hiking boots for me. The selection is slim and the help is unhelpful, sorry to say. The most comfortable shoes are low tops with mesh covering. I like them but Jeff and the salesperson insist I try on a sturdier pair of high tops with closed toes. They feel okay and, since a larger size to try on and compare with is not available, I buy them.
The next day we hike the Morgan Trail in the Cleveland National Forest. The trail head is located off the Ortega Highway on the South Main Divide Road, aka Killen Road. According to the trail map it is a 4.2 out and back hike which can be interpreted as one way or round trip. Since I am used to walking over 5 miles, on an average of 5 days a week, and now have hiking boots, I feel up to the challenge. And so we begin…
The trail leads down to a canopy of oak trees that run along Morell Canyon Creek. Remember I said, “leads down…” There is also a box with a clip-pad, paper, and pencil for registering our names, date and time. Remember that too.
Soon after registering, my outer big toe on my right foot starts talking to me. “Suck it up,” I respond. My feet just need to get used to my new boots. And I forget about any tender spots and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the San Mateo Wilderness.
Jeff and I continue through the shaded grassy areas and begin the climb along a low ridge offering views of Sitton Peak and eventually crossing through the outskirts of private ranches and property. My feet take a backseat to the natural beauty we encounter with each step along the trail.
We reach a new trailhead marker.
We’ve hiked 2.3 miles. Jeff suggests we turn around and go back. I insist we keep going. Remember that I insist.
And so we continue hiking for another 2 + miles. I no longer feel my feet. I just want to see where the Morgan Trail intersects with the Bear Canyon Trail.
And finally, here it is!
Before heading back, Jeff adjusts my hiking boots by loosening the laces as I finally acknowledge that my toes are not happy hikers. And we begin our journey back. What descended now ascends and I dig my heels into the earth to relieve my aching toes while we huff and puff our way back, thirsty, tired, and sore-muscled. Never once does Jeff say, “I told you so,” as I ignored his good sense to turn back 2+ miles ago. Oh, and did I forget to mention that we brought no water or snacks with us? I even half-jokingly suggested that we consider hiking the mile to the Ortega Highway Candy Store and sticking our thumbs out for a ride back to our car at the Morgan Trailhead or contacting the park rangers we registered with to rescue my aching feet! No, we have to hike 4+ miles back to the trailhead.
I do not stop to take pictures on the way back. I just want to be done, take off my boots, and drink something, anything! Oh, and did I mention that I was feeling dizzy? Well, you get the picture. But instead of focusing on my toes which are between the rocks on the uphill trails and the hard places of my shoe coverings, allow me to entertain you with pics of the rocky terrain I took on the first half of this hike. Meanwhile, Jeff and I trudge back to the trailhead and the comfort of our car.
At last! We make it back 3 3/4 miles later. I peel off my shoes and socks. Jeff stops at the Market at the end of Ortega Highway to purchase thirst quenchers. We guzzle water and 1 liter bottles of soda.
The jury is still out, however, on my hiking boots.