Eucalyptus trail is effing steep, which is both the worst thing about it and the best thing about it. On the one hand it’s a ball buster, heading straight up the hillside. (If you have respiratory or cardiac issues, don’t try it. In fact, I’d avoid going down into the valley altogether.) On the other hand, it’s shorter than any other trail that leads to East Ridge trail. Once I got to the point where I could walk up without stopping, I felt like I’d done something. (As I get older, I find that it takes a lot less time to get out of shape and a lot more time to get into shape. It used to be a couple of days back on the bike and I was right as rain and ready to ride. Now, I have to walk up this goddamn trail for a week or two every two or three days, leaving one or two days’ rest in between for recovery. I really like maturing, but aging really sucks.)
Don’t get me wrong, I still suck a lot of wind and it sometimes hurts my breethingtube, but I can make it up and my muscles don’t hurt for a day after and I actually feel better for it. In fact, I sometimes run up this hill. Well, I should say that I sometimes “run” up this hill: it’s more like a lumbering sloggy jog, heavy-stepped runwalking treading and groaning, stopping at specific locations to bend over and catch my breath, which is when Lucy comes and sits, obediently waiting for her treat or sticking her nose in my face with a sympathy lick.
When I run up the hill, Lucy is right behind me, making her presence known by a touch of her nose or her torso on my calf, or crowding me a bit from behind but always staying veryvery close. When I walk up the hill, she goes bounding into the brush and trees that line both sides of the trail. She look a bit like a leaping reindeer in a Christmas card when she does, pretty adorable, but I have not been able to video it yet.
About halfway to the top, there is a hairpin switchback, a great place to catch your breath, toss your cookies, take your nitro tablets: you can also lay down there and the medivac helicopter can see you pretty easily after you call 911.
Once you have arrived here, the hardest part is over and, once you have recovered, you continue up to the intersection of Eucalyptus and Phillips Loop (which I have written about before).
You can continue straight up to East Ridge, or you can make a right-hand turn onto Phillips (which I almost always do) and walk Phillips to East Ridge and then hang a left on East Ridge. For there it is a relatively easy walk back to the parking lot (about .75 miles).
On the day of this walk, I ran into Michelle, Zen Baby and Maggie the Dog.
I found out that Zen Baby loves to be videoed: she is a real ham, irresistibly cute and as soon as I figure out how to compress the video I took into an uploadable file size, then I will add a clip to this post.
We walked along the rest of the way, talking and being entertained by Zen Baby and the dogs, and that is really why I like to do the loop in this order (West Ridge to East Ridge): you almost always end the walk with someone you know or someone you have just met, another dog person you can talk with now that you have your breath back, with a dogbuddy who likes to run and be chased. That is actually the best thing about East Ridge Trail, the people (a few cyclists aside), who are generally friendly and willing to talk as they walk, and company, you know, is always good.