The Shoe Story Part Three

 If the Shoe Fits!

Within a few days we are back on the trails again. This time I put on 2 pairs of socks and as soon as I place my right foot inside of my boot, the outside of my big toe feels a small electrifying jolt. I adjust my socks and re-do the laces until the ah-ha moment arrives and my big piggy zones out shopping at the market.

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Today we hike the Bear Canyon Loop. The trailhead begins about 100 yards south of the Ortega Highway Candy Store.

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Speaking of candy, we discover, a package of edible cannibus as we start the trail.

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Medical marijuana is legal in California and can be purchased at a dispensary. But first one needs a doctor’s recommendation and proof of CA residency. For $75, more or less, you can register at a clinic, skype with a doctor, and, if approved, receive an annual physician’s statement which is a certified legal document allowing you to purchase and carry so many ounces of marijuana and/or cultivate a certain number of plants. The yellow hard candy we find contains 40 micrograms of marijuana which is a double dose and probably meant to be a now-and-later edible.

So, do we taste the hemptation temptation? No. We leave it in the trail registration box. We remember our parents’ warning from when we were little kids and choose to not take candy from a stranger.


The Bear Canyon Loop Trail begins on the Ortega Highway, meets up with the Morgan Trail, and continues to Four Corners. From here you can loop back or continue on several different trails for a longer hike.

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After a mile or so we meet up with the Morgan Trail. So far so good with my feet.

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We take the high road to the right for another mile or so. My feet are not talking back yet.

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We reach the trail marker for the  4 Corners loop.

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We continue on to 4 Corners which is the half-way point of our 6.5 mile hike. Honestly, I don’t know if my feet hurt or not. I am so focused on reaching 4 Corners that, come toes that wished they had stayed home or toes that wished they were more beefed up for hiking, I ignore all of my piggies and zero in on the destination.

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And we arrive at a clearing.

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There are several trail markers here:

North Tenaja Trail

North Tenaja Trail

Verdugo Trail to Oak Flats

Verdugo Trail to Oak Flats

Sitton Peak

Sitton Peak

We opt for the trail leading us back to the Ortega Highway. Just an FYI… Trail maps and information are difficult to find online. The Cleveland National Forest web site is part of fs.usda.gov. The trail descriptions are limited at best. The total mileage is often questionable.  The trail markers are confusing when hiking. 

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As soon as we head back I become aware of my aching feet. I try to ignore them by concentrating on taking pictures of the trail.

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At last we complete the 4 Corners loop and I tell my aching toes we only have 2+ miles to go.

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I think I can! I know I can! I have no choice!  So I dig my heels into the ground, with each step, to take the pressure off my toes. And I continue to take pictures to help me forget that my piggies are crying all the way home to the car!

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At last, the big rocks return and the end is in sight!

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Now, all I need to do is hobble across the Ortega Highway, get to the car, and get my hiking boots off!

My socks are bloody and the tops of my toes are blistered. Could anyone use a pair of slightly worn (just 2 times) Merrell hiking boots size 8.5? Let me know.


I order a new pair of boots on Amazon.com and now too tight is just right and too small is not at all.

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I test these out on the Chiquito Trail. Here’s a picture of Jeff basking in the joy of my happy hiking feet:

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The Shoe Story Part Two

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We reach a new trailhead marker.

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We’ve hiked 2.3 miles. Jeff suggests we turn around and go back. I insist we keep going. Remember that I insist.

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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.

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And finally, here it is!

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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.

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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.