this past week was a rest week for training, so decided to head up to whiting ranch wilderness park in foothill ranch and do my sunday long run on the trails back in there. i hit the trailhead at about 7am and i think i was one of the first people out on the trail. the first part of the loop winds up some creek beds (dry this time of year), then climbs up to a ridgeline that affords a great view over south orange county before diving into the oak groves below.
i passed a few mountainbikers on the way up to the ridgeline. towards the top i was feeling spider web trailers between the tress and tall bushes, which is a good indication that you’re the first person on the trail. i crested the ridge and dove down into oak groves below (my favorite part of the loop) and settled into the wonderful solitude. the trail narrows down from fire breaks to single-track as it winds along a creek bed through the trees.
as i came around a blind corner, some noise off to my left startled me. i started a little bit, and quickly realized that there was a deer about 10 feet from me. i said good morning to it and it went about it’s munching. then i saw another, and another, and another. some movement to my right caught my attention and there were a three more. i was zipping right through the middle of a heard that was foraging for breakfast in the fallen oak leaves.
none of them were startled, and they just went about their business. it was such a wonderful and surreal experience. i’m not new to wildlife, but it’s so rare to see it these days in southern california. oh, i see coyote, bunnies and hawks all the time around here, but i can’t remember the last time i saw deer.
when i looped back around to the trailhead, there were still very few vehicles parked there. as i started back up to the ridgeline, i again saw very few people, and once back down in the trees, no one. as i hit the single-track, i started actively looking for the heard again. i didn’t see the large group again, but i spotted a total of 10 spread out through the oak groves. it was such a wonderful treat. deer are such serene and graceful creatures. it was the perfect pastoral setting…quiet oak groves, no sound of the city and deer quietly foraging through the leaves. what a great way to start the day.
i guess it’s true, the early bird does get the wor…erm…deer.