I’m going to be honest here. Before moving to Santa Barbara six years ago, I had never hiked a day in my life. Oh, I had taken long walks in my neighborhood or along the beach, but never an actual HIKE. In my mind, hiking was something healthy, young, outdoorsy people did… the kind of people who like to go camping or backpacking. It was not for a 40-something year old whose idea of camping requires a bed and a bathroom…and maybe a hairdryer!
That all changed when I moved to the West Coast. A friend invited me to go for a “hike” and promised that I would love it. There are trails all over Santa Barbara and this particular one was relatively flat and easy. I wore sneakers and a pair of jeans and thought “well, this isn’t so bad.” Eventually, I discovered that there were trails within walking distance from our house. I decided to give one of them a try. Easy was not the word that came to mind. What started out as a paved access road turned into a steep, dirt rock-strewn trail. I didn’t go too far that first day. For one thing, my lungs felt like they were going to explode, and two, my sneakers just weren’t going to cut it as I slipped and stumbled my way back down the trail.
Armed with proper hiking boots, comfortable clothes, water, and a hat, I hiked a bit further each time I went. Then came the day when I actually made it to the top and took in the incredible view of the town and ocean and thought to myself WOW… I can do this and it is SO worth the effort!
Soon, another friend asked me if I would like to join their group that hikes several times a week. I said yes, but was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Let’s just say these women meant business. I could’t believe that they could keep such a fast pace AND actually carry on a conversation. I was merely trying to BREATHE!
Eventually I grew stronger and was actually able to enjoy climbing hills and mountains. It’s an activity that I can do by myself which becomes a meditative experience. I can set my own pace and am alone with my thoughts and ideas. With friends and family, it is a fun get together with conversation, all the while getting fresh air and exercise. What could be better?
From the girl who six years ago could barely make it up the hill without gasping for breath, to the 53 year old I am today who just completed a 9 mile trek, hiking has become an integral part of my Santa Barbara lifestyle.