Around and Around and Around I Go.
Who would have thought hiking up a mountain would have been so much fun, challenging, and full of “what the hell was I thinking” moments? Just the thought of hiking would send instant thoughts of torturous vomit inducing mountain climbing or creepy haunted woods with a serial killer just waiting for me around a tree. I would decline all invitations to go hiking and just do my normal walk or run around a track or park. Around and around and around I go. The infinity circle of sameness never ended.
California – A Thread to The Mountain Opened
Moving to California, from Georgia, opened my eyes to a lot of crazy adventures people were experiencing; and I wanted some of it. I emphasize “some”. Sarah, a co-worker at a company I worked at, invited me on a day trip hiking up a Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and lunch afterward. The expression on my face led her to begin telling me about views and ending the hike walking back along the beach and… My rebuttal was, “is that really a thing black people do out here”? In turn I was asked was I really pulling the black card. I confirmed, laughed and finally agreed to go hike a mountain.
What the Hell!
When I pulled up to Torrey Pines Mountain, I saw a beautiful ocean with large waves and a cool breeze. The scene was so calming. Then I got out my car and turned to the left. My jaw dropped as my eyes crawled up and up and up and up this mountain; where there didn’t seem to be a top. “Who the hell… What the hell… Why the hell…”, were the incomplete sentences I kept repeating in my head. I grabbed my phone to look this mountain up, because I obviously did not do it beforehand. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, according to Wikipedia, is 2,000 acres and 8 trails with varying lengths, difficulties and scenery. According to Wikipedia, Torrey Pines is known for its sandy unstable cliffs and falling boulders; in which people have died. My reading was interrupted with Sarah calling me. How I hoped she changed her mind. No such luck. She said it was rare people fell and if we just stay away from the edge, we will be fine. What the HELL SARAH!
The Ascend Up to Death
As Sarah and I approached each other, I had to ask why are we doing this? Sarah laughed and said, “to clear our mind and get you out of that box”. As we walked up, in what seem like an almost 90° angle, it felt like being in a nightmarish hallway that has no end point. Not even half way up, my legs began to feel strained, my breathing became labored and Sarah would not stop talking to me.
I was so focused on looking for the top of this mountain, my burning calves and lungs and trying to hold a conversation with Sarah, until I did not notice how high I was. At least not until Sarah said, “Look, isn’t it beautiful up here”. I turned to my left then nearly knocked people over trying to move to the right. OMG, I looked down! Listen, as beautiful as it was, it was just as terrifying. Now I have a horror movie playing in my head alongside “Who the hell. What the hell. Why the hell.”. “We made it to the top! Now let’s go back”, I blurted out. As people chuckled when they walk by, Sarah said, “We have to go through the mountain and down the other side to the beach then head back”. As I gave Sarah one of my best “GIRL PLEASE” looks, she laughed and tried to reassure me I would be fine.
WARNING! WARNING! MUSCLE AND ORGAN FAILURE APPROACHIING
There was yet a second mountain level to climb before reaching the top. Although this one was not as steep or long, I was spent from the previous climb. By the time we reached the top of the top of this mountain, my hands rested on my knees; as my head hung like a weight. My lungs felt like a dry burn with each inhale and exhale, the pounding of my heart seem to echo throughout my chest, and my legs shook like a happy ending. I pushed vomit back down so I don’t go further down the rabbit hole of embarrassment. It seemed to take forever for my organs and muscles to stop betraying me; or did I betray them by pushing past our normal limits. Whoooooossssaaa, as I chanted while trying to calm my breathing and will myself to stand.
Beautiful Serene and Picturesque
As I stood up, I was in total awe of the beautiful, serene and picturesque view in front of me. The varying colors of reds, browns, greens, and tans was sending my visual senses into hyperdrive. No two sections of the mountain looked the same. Each had its own formation identity. My breathing eased and the pound of my heart slowed as I took it all in. Although I could not see it yet, I smelled the ocean water and heard the waves crashing. That is a sound I could listen too all day. I heard Sarah whisper, “I told you”. Of course, I rolled my eyes at her.
Riddled With Trails
As we proceeded through the sandy rocky terrain, I noticed the mountain was riddled with trails. Trails that wrapped from one side of the mountain to next; then up and down the mountain like the varying paths ants dig in the ground. Each trail came with its own set of challenges and thrills. Yes, I said thrills. It is starting to get exciting. I asked Sarah which trail would be first. Sarah replied, “Since you are a virgin hiker, we will just do three trails then head to beach and walk back”. In my mind, I was like cool. It could not get any worse than what I just climb; or so I thought. The trails themselves, were a constant up and down rock climb, with constant signs of “beware of falling rocks, unstable cliffs and rattlesnakes”. Now I’m thinking no matter where I step, death is waiting to scoop me up. Between moments of resting and taking photos, I got the chance to see nature in one of its rawist forms.
“Unstable cliffs, stay back”
How when you are surrounded by cliffs?
Exploration Through the Mountain
The camera on my phone has never taken so many pictures at one time. Being born and raised on the east coast, I just couldn’t imagine what would be so amazing about being on a rock. After all, it was the same color all around. Ok so I was wrong. When I think of being in nature, I think of lush green trees, green grass with a colourscape of yellows, pinks, reds, blues, oranges and more throughout the greenery. But this nature was different and just as spectacular. The view was different on each trail we traveled. Outside of being freaked out by the crumbling edges and fear of snakes, I was actually at peace. The trails I visited, I feel are a must see, are: Guy Fleming, Yucca point (favorite) and Beach trail (favorite).
The Descend Down the Mountain to the Beach
The approximate 300ft down, according to “The Torrey Pines Trail Guide“, was not an easy hike either. Man made stairs were added, in places, but I still felt like every muscle was going to cease up on me. LOL Yes, a little over dramatizing but that is what went through my mind. I had to abandon my site seeing to maintain balance, and keep up with Sarah’s pace. Sarah offered a break but, at this juncture, I just wanted this hike to end, so I declined and kept moving. We made it to a cliff with no banister and, although the view of the ocean was gorgeous, I needed get down with so many people whipping past me like they didn’t see that cliff. Sarah said, “see those stairs will take us to the beach and then to our cars”. She received a well-deserved, “Girl Please” with an eye roll look from me. I said, Sarah these stairs are short, wet, sandy, curved and has no rails”. Of course, Sarah laughed as I hugged this wall like spider woman hoping a piece of unstable cliff don’t whack me in the head like a mole.
The Beach is a Beautiful Bitch
YES! My feet have hit the flat beach. I am saved. Ok, so I spoke too soon. Sarah is hysterical with laughter. I looked down the beach and up that huge mountain, then at the ocean throwing waves onto the beach. The tide was high so the waves were crashing pretty far onto the beach. From the point of the water crashing onto the beach, to the mountain’s foot, was inundated with rocks the size of potatoes and even larger boulders. Oh, did I mention, as I looked up the mountain pieces of the cliff/mountain was falling throughout the walk back.
- Walk along the beach with cold ocean water splashing on me
- Walk on the rocks and between the boulders, risking twisted ankle or embarrassing fall
- Walk along the mountain’s edge, risking rocks and chunks of mountain falling and crushing me
Option 3 was eliminated. It was a mix between option 1 and 2. LOL When the water receded, we lightly jogged/walked fast on the beach then back onto the rocks. Due to the number of people out there, I was splashed with cold chilling water several times. My new mantra became, “
Who the hell (who is me). What the hell, Why the hell, When the hell”, will this hike end. I was able to stop and get a few pictures in. I just wanted to escape into the sounds of the crashing waves and far of view of beautiful blue; if for no other reason but to ignore the vomit feeling trying to rise and my wobbly legs barely holding me up.
I finally made it to my car. I told Sarah I would meet her at the restaurant. I could not get my car door open fast enough so I could sit down. As I pulled off my shoes to dump the sand and water out of them, I looked at Torrey Pines Nature Reserve Mountain and the ocean, smiled and thought to myself “yep I did that”. I am no longer a hiking virgin. But would I do it again?
Lunch was great, as I nodded off at the table. We laughed, ate and drank. Sarah and I parted ways with the unanswered question lingering, “would I do it again”?
A Deep Comatose Sleep Has Taken Me
Location of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego CA 92037 – Try it for yourself. If you dare…