I easily wake up and jump out of bed. This isn’t normal for me, at home I can never wake up this easily. It is still dark, but this place always gives me energy. The morning air is thick, and smells of the ocean. The fog and clouds cover the earth like a blanket. The temperature is cool, but not cold. I pull over a sweater, tip-toe out of the bedroom, and pour some coffee. Every time I’m here, I imagine having a timed coffee maker at home. I cuddle up and wait in silence for the pitter patter of little feet. Here they come! This means we will be out of the house soon.
After coffee and small talk, we are on our way. In the car we go, The ocean smell turns to pine. It is still dark. We arrive at the base of the mountain. We have the trail to ourselves, no one else has arrived yet. We get out of the car, stretch and moan, and set forth. There is still pavement beneath our feet as we pass through the pedestrian gate. Beyond this point the pavement begins to wither away. I am always amazed how the green of the plants, both close and encompassing the city, look so much more green when they are set against the marine layer. The air is fresh, and although I would be happy just to sit, we have come to conquer. We climb. We quicken our gait until it becomes a run. The road curves and we no longer see our origin. After two more corners, we are faced with a fork in the road. As we continue to run up the trail, the trail continues to narrow; we are running in single file now. We are lucky that there has been rain. The trail takes us down, we descend and there is water in the stream. It is always so much more fun to jump from rock to rock. That relief from the descent is short-lived. After passing the creek we work our way up again. A steep climb, now the trail hugs the mountain-side and we level off for a moment. Here again, you can take inventory of your accomplishment, seeing how far you have come in such a short amount of time. The mountain is more brown up here, we are making our way through the clouds at this point. And we continue to go up. Now the trail takes us back and forth, back and forth, with level and steep climbs alternating quickly. The last portion of the climb is the worst, so sharp and dry that the soil has began to degrade. Single wooden stairs stand in and assist as we push our last efforts to find the mountain crest.
Relief, accomplishment, and joy rush over you as you cross the other, larger trail whose head we passed so long ago. After the cross roads is an open space, to sit (or stand) and enjoy. We stand. Here we are above the clouds. Just minutes ago, we were unaware of the beauty and the warmth that the sun provides. We can see the waves traveling through the clouds, although you must be patient, since these are much longer and slower than the waves of the ocean beneath us. Every time I come here I am grateful. I’m grateful for each experience, for each woman that runs that trail with me, for the beauty and energy of the sun, for the strength and longevity of the mountain. For the strength and accomplishments of my amazing body, moving me from the bottom to the top with ease and grace. Life is put into perspective up here. There is still another peak directly behind us. And if we were to sit long enough for the clouds to dissipate, we would see the entire city of Santa Barbara & Goleta, the ocean, the vast large world in which we live. The city is like no other. Small white specks separated by elevation and green from pine trees. All set between the beautiful and powerful ocean and mountains. We stand at this peak, Inspiration Point to reflect on life, to be grateful, and to appreciate the presence of our company.
After some time, we will descend, reversing our journey. Slowly (not too slowly, we are running) coming back to the place we began. Changed. Happier. Mindful. And a little lighter. The journey we take can be taken for granted, but I challenge you to be awake and aware of the journey you are on. And take a moment at the top to appreciate how you got there.