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Carmel Valley Run

April 2, 2013

Going for a morning run is one of my absolute favorite ways to see a new place.  I really need to remind myself of this more, because I often decide it sounds like more fun to sleep late in a comfy new bed.  Luckily on our second morning in Carmel I got myself up for a truly gorgeous run.

I’ve always loved exploring places on foot, and running allows me to cover more ground while getting a workout in before the day begins.  I also find that morning is usually one of the most beautiful times of day.  And selfishly, there’s something special about having some alone time in a new place while the rest of my travel companions are still sleeping or sipping coffee.

Carmel Valley

It was still cool when I ventured out – probably in the low 40s – and sunny, which is perfect running weather in my opinion.  The soft morning sun lit up the hills on either side of Carmel Valley and was starting to work its way down to the road.

Carmel Vineyards

This area of Carmel Valley is about 10 miles inland from Big Sur where we were strolling on beaches the day before.  It’s consistently warmer and sunnier than the coast and is a beautiful bucolic area. What’s that?  Your mom didn’t throw out SAT words like “bucolic” in casual conversation while you were growing up?  According to Merriam Webster, the definition is:

1: of or relating to shepherds or herdsmen : pastoral
2a : relating to or typical of rural life
   b : idyllic
 
Ok, are we back on the same page now?  Good.
 
Carmel Horse Farm
 
I ran past green pastures, freshly plowed land, horse farms and vineyards as I worked my way toward Garland Park.
 
Carmel Valley Run

Lush farmland is a total departure from my usual surroundings, so I loved taking in the sights and smells on my run.  Everything was so green and fresh-smelling.

Carmel Valley Run

Pretty quickly, I made it to Garland Ranch Regional Park, the area my aunt had recommended for excellent trail running. 

Garland Park

Garland must have dozens of miles of well-maintained dirt trails.  One of the things I LOVE about this part of California is how there seem to be state/county/regional/whatever parks everywhere you look.  It seems to be an outdoor enthusiast’s dream area.

Garland Park Bridge

Mountain lion sightings are not uncommon in this area and there are few things in this world that scare me more than a mountain lion.  So because I was running alone I stuck to a central trail where I passed quite a few dog walkers, figuring the kitties would be less likely to venture that way.  To be safe, I also removed my ear phones and played the music on my iPhone out loud at top volume so any critters could hear me coming.  I also paid attention to my surroundings to the point of paranoia. 

Garland Park Trail

Luckily, the worst predators I came across were a group of four or five Australian Shepherds who all jumped up on me at once.  While I tried to silence my phone that was loudly playing rap music that may have offended their owner.  Anyway…

Garland Park

The park was gorgeous and I was really tempted to keep running and see what the trails were like deeper into the park.  If I could have come back with a buddy, a large dog and a weapon of some sort it would have been awesome.  I’m telling you, for a mountain girl I’m unreasonably afraid of mountain lions.  Or maybe reasonably because they are terrifying predators.  Now I’m all anxious.  Cue the calming scenic shots.

Garland Park Tree

Garland Park

Garland Park

After out-smarting the kitties, I left the park and headed back up the valley.  On the way, I couldn’t resist wandering through the grounds of the Bernardus Lodge

Bernardus Lodge

The Bernardus Lodge is a super swanky hotel situated on the grounds of a vineyard by the same name. 

Bernardus Vineyard

They have a beautiful garden and I ambled around the property cooling down a bit toward the end of my run.

Bernardus Lodge Garden

Bernardus Garden

I can only imagine how much more I’d get out of these vacation runs if I were a faster runner or liked to run longer distances.  On this particular morning, I probably only covered 4-5 miles at a pretty leisurely pace and stopped frequently to take all of these photos.  You wouldn’t think that could amount to a good workout, but I was red in the face and my legs ached by the time I returned to the house!

Carmel Valley Vineyards

When I run at home, it is pretty rare that I can say I truly loved a run.  But this run might have been one of my favorite moments of a wonderful weekend.  

Back at the house, it was time to shower up and get ready for our next adventure – whale watching!

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