Unnamed Ridge Exploration - Taking some time out
It was about 10AM on a Sunday. I had had a busy week. I was mentally spent. My wife could tell. Even though we had guests, she asked if I wanted to get out for a hike.
I said yes, of course. I needed it.
I headed out to East Camino Cielo. There's a small mountain I'd like to get to the top of that I am fairly certain other people rarely ever climb. There are a couple of other landmarks along the way. The only beta I've found online has led me to believe that this will be a challenging hike, with a tremendous amount of route finding. Sounds like fun.
Given my late start, this was to be a reconnaissance hike. I wanted to explore the ridgeline down to the creek below and get a view of the area I was going to explore at a later date.
Once atop East Camino Cielo, my mood was immediately affected. I looked out over the Santa Barbara Channel and its islands. I turned and looked north and saw the backcountry to be entered. I was excited.
Immediately off the road, I saw the usual signs of trails near roads. Various ammunition shells and boxes, beer cans, wine bottles, and food wrappers. Also, as usual, the litter disappeared once the trail got a little tough and more distant from the road.
As I descended, occasionally bushwhacking, I saw a beautiful madrone, rising head and shoulders above the surrounding chaparral. After about a mile or so, I scooted off trail and sat on a rock. I pulled out a snack as the breeze cooled the sweat on my forehead.
I could see the rest of the ridge that led down into the drainage. I could see the mountain that would be my destination someday. I could see the challenging route I would have to take to get there. I pulled out the beta report that I had saved to my phone and matched the route description with what I could see.
I drank deeply from my water supply. I ate a hard-boiled egg, which is my new favorite trail food. I studied what was in front of me. I put away my map and my phone. I sat back and closed my eyes. This was becoming a habit; slowing down, enjoying the moment on the trail. Becoming less goal-oriented, unless my goal was to relax. Once again, the scents and silence of the trail pushed away the remnants of my busy work week.
After a while, I got up and continued down the ridge. I never did find the next turn in the trail, but was confident I would find it when I came back. I turned and climbed steeply back up to Camino Cielo. Back to the tremendous view of the ocean. On the way, I encountered several brightly blooming plants, covered with flowers.
I was only out a few hours and only went a few miles, but it made a difference. I drove back down the mountain and joined my family on the beach.