61-Week Hiking Challenge (Week 1)
The other day I found myself writing about how much I love it where I live here on the Central Coast, but then I realized that I really haven’t truly explored the area. Granted it wasn’t until my twins were in 1st grade (this year) and attending school for full days that I felt like I had time of my own. So now that I have those extra 3 hours 5 days a week, I’ve found myself wanting to be more active.
My girlfriend, Arleena and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather we were having this week and set out on an adventure to hike Avila Ridge (that’s what I’ve always heard it called, but come to find out it’s called Shell Beach Bluff Trail – Ontario Ridge Trail Loop). More details on that trip in a minute. ..We had such a great time! Was it hard – YES! Was it fun to go with a friend – Hell YES! I felt like I accomplished something hard and my body (although exhausted, and today as I write a day later my body is SO Sore!) felt great!
So, I’ve decided to do my New Year’s Resolution early and give myself a challenge…each week I want to go on a hike. I’d like it to be different every time, but trying to be realistic, I’m just going to say a hike a week. I will report back to you (to keep me honest) on my thoughts and accomplishments. After talking about this with some friends, who knows, maybe we’ll get a group going. So because I’m starting this before the new year, and I don’t want to wait until January; instead of a 52 week challenge, I’m making it the 61 week challenge (to reflect starting this week).
Arleena and I started on the Shell Beach side right off of the 101 Freeway. It was extremely vertical from the get go. After huffing and puffing for a few minutes we were at the top of the first ridge overlooking the freeway to one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. I can honestly say that on a clear day the stretch from Shell Beach to Avila reminds me of Catalina or even Hawaii until of course you step into the water (co-co-cold!). It is so picturesque!
There are a few sections where it’s flat, but there’s a lot of climbing. Once at the top there are a few trails to explore. We decided to go through an Oak tree forest. This downhill path was very slippery, and after falling on our butts we found out by a passerby that the trail we were on was going t take us to Sycamore Hot Springs in Avila (complete opposite of where we were parked). We once again we found ourselves circling back uphill.
Once back on top we decided to go down towards the beach. Oh, did I mention there is a nudie beach hidden over there?!? We saw a remarkably steep pathway. We looked down, and then turned around and looked up…which way would you go? Yep, we went down & after the first few slips we found we were in no-man’s-land & it was too late. We had to carefully find footing to make it down without killing ourselves. After we made it, we got a few laughs at watching and hearing the screams of the others attempting to make it down.
We then found ourselves on the paved Shell Beach Bluff Trail & it was easy peasy thereafter. Saw some people at the nude beach, laughed, and admired the beautiful mansions along this short route. And then we were back at my car.
Difficulty: 7 (out of 10)
Beauty: 8 (out of 10)
Distance: 4.22 Miles
Pace: 16:20 min/mi
Max Elevation: 758’
Burned: 408 calories
Worth It? Absolutely! (On a clear day)
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
To get to the Shell Beach Drive trailhead: From the 101 Freeway, exit on Avila Beach Drive and turn south on Shell Beach Road, which runs down the west side of the freeway. Drive 1/3 of a mile and turn right on El Porto Drive. Continue west for 0.4 miles to the end of the road, and make a slight right on Indio Drive. Continue up to the cul-de-sac outside the private Bluff Drive, and turn left down to the parking lot.
Trailhead address: Indio Drive & Bluff Drive, Pismo Beach, CA 93449 Trailhead coordinates: 35.174558, -120.707748
Here’s a sneak peak of where I think I’m going next week…
Week 2 – Bishop Peak Trail (San Luis Obispo) – 3.5 miles
This round trip hike summits the tallest of the Nine Sisters for excellent views over San Luis Obispo.