One of my sisters (of the 3, she's the one a year younger than me) gave out thoughtful do-things-for-you presents for Christmas this year. I know, immediately you think about being a kid, or broke, or just cheesy, but if really thoughtful, they can be a really nice present. For me, she promised to come to our house and walk with me once a week. She lives almost an hour away in the East Bay (so that involves bridge toll), and we just don't get to see each other as often as we used to. Yes, we're close enough that we want to see each other!
So, last week was our first "walk". Really, I'm going to call it a mini-hike (although I always think of Bridget Jones and mini-break when I say that in my head, so it's "mini-hike" with a British accent). See, first of all, my sister is a naturalist. Not like the hippy kind, she actually does this for a living - working at the Audubon Society and teaching kids about nature. She loves it, and has finally found a way to get paid for it, so props to her! So "walk" to my sister has a more rigorous meaning. And the places to walk around Pacifica are either the beach or the hills (hills large enough to save you from a tsunami if you made far enough up one). We decided to walk along the beach, and up some of the smaller hills along the coast. It's actually a really pretty mini-hike, but of course last Friday it was drizzling and misty.
So, I put on my tennis shoes that have a decent grip, my Patagonia jacket and hood, and we headed out. And it was fun. I'm horribly out of shape, most humiliatingly evidenced when we headed up the stairs they built into the hill so you could actually make your way up, and I'm huffing and puffing halfway up, and she's hopping along like a boxer-in-training saying "race you to the top"! I told her I was pacing myself (I didn't mention it was so I didn't pass out at the top and fall straight back down those stairs!) and she backed off, but the girl who looked no more than 13 who passed us twice didn't make me feel any better!
(BTW, all pictures except the bottom one are borrowed from jdeehan's Flickr - I don't know her, but she has some great pics - but imagine these rainy, muddy, and gray! We started back at the very top left corner in the first picture, just south of the pier, and headed much further south of here, and back! The bottom pic is from mori.point's Flickr. The front set of hills are what we climbed; the ocean is to the right. Oh, and apparently this area is where they filmed the last scene in Harold and Maude, which I now need to see again since it's been ages.)
Once past the stairs, though, we were on top of a cliff over the ocean, and it was gorgeous and the waves were really big from the rainy weather, and we were pretty much the only ones up there. We followed the trail following the coast, which got a little dicey with the mud and the inclines. At one point we were rather close to the edge of the bluff, and of course this is where it decided to get slippery and I lost my footing a smidge. Not enough to send me careening down to the watery depths below, but enough to make me worried about it.
Meanwhile, my mountain goat sister is hopping along merrily (did I mention she used to be a long-distance runner; yeah, those genes did not get passed along to me!) until she sees I'm stopped dead, tentatively picking up one foot and putting it back down again for lack of a viable foothold. "It's an adventure!" she yells down at me. "If your pants get muddy, you can just wash them!" But how will you retrieve me when I've landed, knocked unconscious, on the quickly-disappearing beach far below...I know, that fear can make you think some crazy things. But she was right, and I wanted to have fun and play in the mud, my body had just forgotten how to let go and do that. So I took the chance on the crazy muddy footing, and ungracefully mountain-goated my own path the rest of the way to the next peak.
We did have fun. We chatted when we weren't in the more technical parts. We got a little muddy. We looked at the snails and birds and tried to spot sea creatures from above (no luck...this time!). She pointed out all the native plants the conservationists have been planting in the area. And over an hour later, I was soaked from sweating inside my waterproof jacket (doesn't work when the water's on the inside, folks!), and rosy-cheeked, and feeling pretty good.
Our mini-hike was a mini-adventure, and I'm excited to do it again this week. We'll probably try the same area, but there's a lot more we could go along if we were so inclined (pun not intended, but kinda funny), and there are actually a bunch of trails closeby - for hikers and mountain bikers. After living here 3 years, it's about time I actually got out and saw what others drive here for! And did I mention it was really nice to spend some time with my sister? Because, despite how jealous I am of her athletic prowess, I do enjoy hanging out with her. And it's good to have someone push you when you need it, and back off a little and look at plants when you need a quick breather.