Gregorio Perez Conquers Mountains

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Gregorio Perez was born in the state of Guerrero in Mexico and later moved to Mexico City. He was able to move to the United States in 1983. Once here, he worked hard to learn English, went to college to learn U.S. history and happily became a U.S. citizen 12 years ago. Gregorio is self-employed as a gardener. He lives here in Carpinteria with his wife Leticia and sons Jordan and Bryant. If you run into Gregorio on the trail, he will always take the time to stop and share with you what he has seen on the trail and his joy of being on the Franklin Trail.

When did you first go up the Franklin Trail?

I had friends who worked on putting up the fencing on the first part of the trail and they told me about the Franklin Trail. I would run on the trail before it was really even open to people. You run the trail; have you always been a runner? Well, when I lived in Mexico I was a runner, yet when I came to Santa Barbara I didn’t know where to run or anyone to run with so I stopped for a long time. One day I told my wife how I missed running and she was surprised since she had never seen me run. She encouraged me to run again and so I have been doing so ever since then.

How far have you gone on the trail?

When the trail finally opened, I was so happy as I already knew it. I have run to the top to Camino Cielo three times. It is almost 16 miles round trip and it takes me four and a half hours. I stop and enjoy the view at the top for about 20 minutes. I drink water from my Camelback and eat peanuts and Kind Bars for energy. I’m really hungry and tired when I get home. Last time, Leticia had two big hamburgers waiting for me and I ate every bite. I run the trail three times a week. I go on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I usually run to the second bench or to the end of the second phase. It is dark by the time I come back down, so I wear my headlamp.

Has the Franklin Trail been good for your life?

I’m 59 years old and have been in great health. When I went to the clinic in Santa Barbara for a checkup the doctor told me to keep doing what I’m doing now. I really love seeing so many people from Mexico on the trail. People are getting healthier. You usually run after work; have you seen animals on the trail in the evening? I’ve seen lots of deer and recently a big stag with antlers. I’ve seen bobcats, coyotes and snakes. One evening I saw a bear. I had on my headlamp. I think the light frightened the bear and it ran away. I was surprised to see a bear; it was the first time I had seen a bear in my life. I felt safe.

You have run lots of trails in the Santa Barbara area, how does the Franklin Trail compare?

The Franklin Trail is one of the most fantastic trails. On the Santa Barbara trails you walk under trees or in creek bed areas for a long time before you see a view. On the Franklin Trail there is an open view almost right away. It is up and down and you can see almost anything.

Are you participating in the Turkey Trot?

Yes, I am. The celebration will be at Island Brewing Company on Friday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. The money that is raised will go to finalizing the phase III of the Franklin Trail. I’m honored to be interviewed about the trail since it has become such a big part of my life.


Author Debbie Murphy is an adventurer, real estate broker and community volunteer.

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