In late-September, my friend Rachel and I planned a leisurely hike to Three Pools Beyond Seven Falls in Santa Barbara. Rachel is an exceptional adventure partner. She encourages my crazy ideas. She doesn’t freak out when I lead her down an unbeaten path and tell her we may not end up anywhere. She appreciates the little things, like leaves changing colors and the unusual texture of tree bark. She doesn’t think it’s weird when I stick my nose in the air and fill my lungs with the smell of ancient eucalyptus trees. She also makes these delicious hummus lettuce wraps that I really enjoy.
On the morning of the hike, we packed a lunch and drove the scenic route from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. At the trail head, we read a sign that said, “GOATS AHEAD. PLEASE LEASH YOUR DOGS.” Fortunately, we did not encounter any rogue goats on the trail, which was surprising since we spent a lot of time being lost. Our directions were not as straightforward as the name implied. The trail winded and forked unexpectedly in several places as we hiked along the dry creek bed. I had no idea where I was taking us, but Rachel didn’t seem to mind.
Finally, we encountered a few hikers coming from the opposite direction. I panicked a little inside when I heard them speaking a foreign language, but they were able to assure us in broken English that we were headed in the right direction. We knew we were close when we came to the giant rock. In order to reach the pools, one must scale this 15-foot boulder. Once again, I found myself confronting my fear of heights, but I managed to climb up without looking down. Nothing like a little Exposure Therapy.
We finished up our picnic and found our way back to the main trail, following a few breadcrumbs we left along the way. We stopped to appreciate the little things, like the leaves changing colors and the unusual texture of tree bark. I stuck my nose in the air and filled my lungs with the smell of ancient eucalyptus trees. We enjoyed the view of the Channel Islands from our mountain paradise before returning to reality.
Our adventure to the Mermaid Pools still feels like a dream. I’d like to go back when the creek is running again to see the Seven Falls, but I have a feeling that Rachel and I will have many adventures before then. Today just happens to be Rachel’s birthday, so I would like to take this opportunity to say Happy Birthday, Rachel! Best wishes for an awesome year ahead full of happiness and adventure. I’m so grateful to have you as a friend. Love, Alyx
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