“After my morning in Paso, I drove to Morro Bay. Cool little city with a very cool state park. I hiked the “quarry trail” which I thought was going to lead me straight to the top of “Cerro Cabrillo” but it actually just led me around a flat trail at the base of Cerro. Not to be undone though, I eventually found the trail leading up to the peak. 911’ up… Cerro Cabrillo was quite an undertaking that I was not ready for at all…..” – October 21, 2017, 4:57pm, Avila Hot Springs Campground
“From the bottom of the trail, it looks like the hike will be relatively straightforward with a sort of plateau at the top. This was a big mistake. The climb was difficult and steep and once I reached the “top” there was no discernible flat ground at all. Rather it was covered in rocks and huge menacing bushes. I was literally jumping from rock to rock trying not to step in any of those bushes for fear of critters living within their cool confines. It was hot and I was sweating and although I was careful, I almost slipped to my doom a couple of times. While scrambling along the tops of the rocks, I got the bright idea to try and climb my way down via another path…” – October 21, 2017, 4:57pm, Avila Hot Springs Campground
“I jumped from rock to rock moving farther away from my original path. Wandering for 30 minutes or so. Eventually, the rocks started appearing less frequently and instead, the bushes and foliage made my route impassable. I started to feel anxious and nervous as my breathing picked up. I began to think dark thoughts of being stuck up here overnight and of the creatures who would no doubt find me stranded up here. I sat on a huge flat rock overlooking the bay and began to breathe in and out as slowly and deliberately as I could….” – October 21, 2017, 4:57pm, Avila Hot Springs Campground
It was at this point when I finally settled down and looked at the view in front of me. The majority of my time spent on Cerro Cabrillo was looking for a way down, a way to get back safe. But when I looked up and took in the view, it gave me strength and more importantly, it gave me clarity. The simple answer was staring me in the face the entire time: go back the way you came.
Eventually, I made my way down going the exact way I had come up. I was a little shook but I also felt exhilarated. I flew down the path and hurdled to my truck with my stomach growling and my emotions running high. That night, I drove back to the Avila Beach campgrounds and spent the night at the hot springs. I thought about the hike and how fun it was despite the inherent danger I faced. It felt good to conquer that peak and it feels good to write about it today. The view was incredible but the lesson I learned up there was invaluable. Just breathe. Be in the moment and (in my case) realize the obvious. I realize now it was folly to try and cross that entire peak to find a shorter route. Once I stopped and stared at that view, I relaxed and started living in the moment. I followed my feet and found my way down. That night, I slept like a rock in my camper but deep in my mind I realized I was getting closer to home and I was anxious to return…