This week, I moved on down the chain to Islay Hill (rightfully a hill). Islay Hill, which is one of the Sisters, is a 5 minute scooter ride from my house and reminds me of a little gremlin. It is lushly green at the bottom, but as it slopes up towards the peak there is a definite line of shorter, dark green shrubs that from faraway look like a hat sitting atop a hunching little person. Or gremlin, to be exact. The view from the top, though, is all a brighter green.
Another of my favorite new spots, which is about a mile from our house, is Terrace Hill. It’s an easy walk and short climb up a rocky slope, and stretches and flattens on top to an open area large enough to throw the ball around with a dog without worrying they'll go wailing off the side. Sunset is the best time to go (I would assume sunrise is pretty great as well).
A more difficult hike is up Sydney Street. This one makes me a little nervous thinking about it. As you approach the trail head, you come to a gate with a sign that says something along the lines of “No trespassing”. Just behind that sign is a note about a recent cougar siting. And behind that sign? One about rattlesnakes. Yep, you would think at this point I would chalk it up to a solid effort and ride into the sunset on my waiting scooter. But mustering my outlaw-ness and googling what to do if I meet a mountain lion on my phone, I headed up the shady, steep trail instead. I had read online that the sign about no trespassing has been there for years, but that it’s actually a public trail that skirts rather closely to private cattle land. I still had an excuse in my mind if I did get caught— I’m sorry officer, I was so focused on the predatory cougars and coiled rattlesnakes I didn’t even see the sign about getting shot if I trespass!
The last hike I did was on Sunday. Montana de Oro is certainly one of the coolest places in SLO County, with its colorful, often empty beaches, eucalyptus groves, and peaks and ravines to explore. One that I’ve had my eye on for a while is Valencia Peak. It’s a little over 2 miles up, and rumor has it the views are pretty great. I set out with a mild hang over (I went wine tasting on Saturday, which is a different story that also involves peaks and ravines), not enough sunscreen, and probably not enough water (did I mention SLO had a heatwave this weekend?). But I reached the top along with a slough of other hikers (I’m never really alone, moma dear), in a little over 40 minutes. The view stretched with a clear shot to Morro Bar, and was the perfect bird-eye perch to inspect the trails I will tackle on a different date when there is less wine and more water coursing through my system.
Waking up with the goal to go outside and do something active every single day has been one of my favorite New Years goals, and is one that has been fairly easy to keep now that the time change has happened and I can take off after work. It’s amazing what a little bit of blood flow and a little bit of greenery can do for my mental state… and my hang overs. Cheers to that my friends, and cheers to more adventures around this beautiful rock.