May/June 2021 Issue
Last year, when California’s first shelter-in-place order arrived, my family and I did the only thing we were allowed to do: We went on a walk. Walking has always been our arrival ritual for a new destination. That March afternoon, as we descended the Beachgate Trail near our house and came to Seacliff State Beach, one of the most wildlife-rich locations on Monterey Bay, I wondered why we hadn’t explored our community more.
At the beach, a pod of dolphins arced past the century-old ruins of the cement ship SS Palo Alto at the end of the pier. My husband, Eddie, suggested, “Let’s break our walking record.” He was referring to a day we’d clocked 8.5 miles exploring Lisbon the previous year. Our two boys, 8 and 12, high-fived him, always down for healthy competition, even if it was against ourselves. “We might walk the whole county by the time we’re done,” Eddie proclaimed. “Maybe we’ll finally do the Skyline-to-Sea Trail.” This 29.5-mile hike stretches from the northern shoreline of Santa Cruz County to Santa Clara County’s Big Basin State Park.
“I hope this pandemic doesn’t last that long,” said our youngest, Nikko.
In the six months my family spent walking Santa Cruz County training for this hike, we realized much more than the value of our walking stamina. Exploring our community with traveler’s eyes and the simple practice of being present in our environment enabled us to finally appreciate this terrain we called home.