Montara Mountain, CA

Date Traveled: 09/4/16

I’ll be honest, August was kind of an off month for me. I was uninspired, unenthusiastic. I was going through the days on auto-pilot, performing each action out of muscle memory until the day was done. I didn’t read or write or even cook. But my zombie-like state didn’t mean the rest of the world was moving slow. Everywhere I turned, it felt like something needed to be addressed. Everything demanding my attention but nothing could capture it. I felt the frustration and aggravation brew inside of me and I couldn’t shake it off. August left me mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

When September came around, I knew I had to get myself out of this rut. I so badly wanted to read and write and cook and dance and sing and just feel like myself again. I was determined to shake off the bad juju that had taken over my August. The Saturday before Labor day, I texted my mom and boyfriend to tell them I was going for a hike the next day and will be out of cell service for a majority of the day. I turned off my tablet and laptop, blocked my work and personal email, uninstalled my social media apps and went to bed that night hopeful and excited to enjoy a day off the grid, clearing my mind of the negativity it endured last month.

On Sunday, I woke up earlier than my alarm and headed to the kitchen to make my favorite breakfast sammie, an english muffin with a sunny-side-up egg topped cheese and salsa. The sun was just creeping into my kitchen window as I enjoyed each bit of breakfast with a hot cup of tea. Afterwards, I packed a bag of almonds, an apple and my jug of water into my backpack and headed out towards my Zipcar.

With the radio off, I made my way out of the waking city and onto Highway 1 towards Pacifica. The fog engulfed me the closer I got to the coast and I was reminded of the Sundays my family would pack our 1991 red Caravan with blankets and fruit to enjoy on the beach. I hooked a left on Linda Mar and drove straight until I reached the entrance of San Pedro Valley County Park.

My plan was the hike the Montara Mountain trail and hop over to the Brooks Creek trail on my way down making a 7-mile-long balloon shape path through the park. The trip started with a series of steep switchbacks in between tall trees that provide some shade. From then on, the gradual incline continued with a few turns here and there. I was glad I packed sunscreen because the path is pretty much exposed by .5 miles and the sun was peeking through the fog. The open path gives way for some breathtaking views of the fog rolling over Montara Mountains on your left and the beautiful California coast on your right. I took a moment or two to admire the vistas before continuing upwards to the top.

 Heading up Montara Mountain trail

Heading up Montara Mountain trail

 Coming down on Brooks Creek trail

Coming down on Brooks Creek trail

The trails were relatively empty and all I could hear was my breath and the sound of dirt underneath my boots. It reminded me of a hike I did with my mom back in Santa Barbara. She came down to visit for a girls weekend and we absentmindedly decided to hike Inspiration Point at midday in the middle of summer. The heat from the sun and the incline had us both beat. And just when we were about to turn around and call it a day, my mom shared a story of her mother I will never forget.

Before I tell you this story, please note that my mom is an undying optimist. She would rather spend her time and energy focusing on the positive aspects of an otherwise terrible situation and swears by the power of a happy thought.

My mom told me, while huffing and puffing for cool air, that her mother always said with every painful uphill in life there is a beautiful view and an easy, comfortable downhill. She said that when you feel like you have no more energy to continue going uphill remember that the view will be amazing and you’ll be able to enjoy a relaxing downhill shortly after to recharge for the next incline in your path.

And recalling that memory genuinely put a smile on my face because it was exactly the story I needed to remember. August was an uphill. It was an unexpected, challenging, tiring, sucky uphill. There were times when I wanted to surrender to the negativity, but I mustered up whatever energy I had left and powered through. And just when I came to that realization, I looked up to find the most breathtaking view I’d seen in a long time - the fog was rolling in from the left over the green side of Montara mountain, reaching out the Pacific Ocean and the people below, and from the right was the perfect patch of blue sky. I just stood there for a minute or two, trying to catch my breath, marveling at what I was seeing and overfilled with joy that I did it!

 View from Montara Mountain Overlook

View from Montara Mountain Overlook

I’m not saying I hiked a mountain and came back a changed woman who can take on the world and will never have bad days because frankly, that’s a fat lie. Bad days will continue to happen and at times, I can’t do anything to prevent them no matter how badly I want to. But what scaling up Montara Mountain did teach me is that I still have the strength in me to get out of bed during bad days, cook a good meal during bad days, exercise on bad days, and accept inspiration on bad days. I still have it in me to continue climbing uphill. Because, I know, with 100% certainty, the view will be worth it. 

Xoxo, EK