A Hike to Santa Barbara’s Inspiration Point
Some days, you just need to get away from it all, and that day was yesterday for this Santa Barbara blogger. Feeling dejected by the plethora of so-called publishers out there—along with imaginary friends, inflated egos, and career carrots dangled and withdrawn—I grabbed my camera and headed out to the quiet of Santa Barbara’s Seven Falls. If there’s one thing I’ve learned by this stage of my life, chickens, it’s that Nature restores.
And it’s not stingy about it, either. Just driving the winding route of Tunnel Road eased the senses, carved as it is, through Mission Canyon’s lushly forested, sandstone. So what if parking was such I had to park a full half-mile from the trailhead? With more than 5 separate trails leading from the front country to the back, it’s no wonder so many cyclists, runners and hikers were on site to enjoy.
Why, even chickens were out partaking of the late afternoon quiet! The instant I stepped out of my car, I happened upon these “wild chickens”—or at the very least extremely free-range chickens—foraging at the edge of an orange grove, their unrestrained movements echoing their lack of concern for my spastic shutterbugging.
I reached the paved path that leads to the trailhead proper by 4:50, and mindful of the progressively earlier sunsets of late August, I put a little giddyup in my step, deciding to try to make Inspiration Point some 2 miles away before dusk. Peace was already on hand—if inspiration was still farther up the road—and I relaxed all over as the ambient sounds of city life ceased as suddenly as an uncharged Ipod, the silence peppered with birdsong that first blanketed, and then untangled, the snarl of nerves within. Ahh. There’s no other word for the sensation getting away from it all imparts.
I couldn’t get away from the vacillating animal I am, though, and I came to the “real” decision point about a mile in. AKA Santa Ynez creek, the subject-to-runoff stream was as dry as the last few months have been, and I knew if I turned right here, I’d be bound for cliff-climbing and rock-jumping all seven of the falls creek beds and banks that—water or no water—would have required foot/eye coordination engaging every level of the mind and body.
Such distraction was plenty tempting, especially after the month I had, but so was the promise of Inspiration Point, and I let the lack of actual falling water decide it. Plenty of time to visit the pools when they’re full. Come spring, the time-carved water slides at the nethermost falls will stand in nicely for a bit of natural water-park fun.
Mohammed’s girlfriend goes on her own. I reached Inspiration Point before I knew it, pausing for an inspiring moment to perch on a boulder & admire the panoramic view of our coastline—no less the beautiful for its layer of lurking marine. A gentle Santa Ana wind lifts my hair from my face in warm caress, its whispering the only sound backgrounding the magnificence. Surrounded as I am by so much wholeness that’s utterly complete & perfect without me, I am myself restored.
But as lengthening shadows joined the hazy gauze wreathing the view, and the low 70’s dipped into the high 60’s, I knew it was time to head back without looking at my watch, since 2 miles in, is 2 miles out, even if it is downhill. My “chill pill” of exercise, fresh air, and gorgeous scenery had already worked its way thoroughly into in my system, and refreshed by the brief respite from a truly easy hike, I was good to go. Besides! The time release after-effects last as long as my memory.
And this blog post guarantees to boost that memory along like a pixelated nudge. Or a pixelated “hike & tell” that I hope you’ve enjoyed as much as I enjoyed compiling it. Until next time, then, chickens, when you might just find a pair of chaps is in order!