Two weeks ago I took I took a much needed day off to recharge. I had pushed myself to exceed my sales goals at work over the past several weeks and was rapidly reaching a point of burnout.
My idea to unwind was to take a 10-12 mile hike to Alamere Falls along the Palomarin Trail of the picturesque Point Reyes Seashore in West Marin.
Ironically, I had been talking about making this hike for a long time, but never made it a priority to actually do it. I looked at pictures, maps, and blogs to plan my trip, but always found a reason why now was not a good time. Then the rains came. Which meant even more water to feed the falls. But the trail would be too muddy to hike, I rationalized, while sitting at home wishing I could do it.
One night I saw a picture on Facebook of my friend standing in front of the falls with the most joyful smile.
I have to do this soon, I thought, but never set a date. Another few weeks passed, followed by even more rain. Then, one evening, I saw a picture of that same friend standing atop the Andes in Ecuador. He looked at peace-happy. He had made a monumental climb. One that undoubtedly required, planning, conditioning, and time to acclimate to the altitude, but he didn’t give up, he had persisted.
When I saw that, I became even more motivated to make time to hike to the falls. I finally reached the point where I wanted it bad enough-it looked just too beautiful to not experience first hand. I picked a date and committed to making it happen. Sure, there was a bit of envy and jealousy associated with seeing my friend’s glorious outdoor excursions, but I had to do this for me.
Several more storms pounded the Northbay over the weekend prior to my planned date. I worried that I may have to change my plans. Fortunately there was only a 30% chance of rain on the Monday I’d be making the trek.
The morning came, I packed some rain gear, a delicious salami, prosciutto, and mozzarella sandwich, Jalapeno Kettle chips, and a bottle of sparkling water and set out for Bolinas.
As I glanced at the trail map it looked a little daunting- 14 miles to the falls it said- it would take an average of four to five hours. I paused and told myself, you can do this, and stepped onto the trail.
A couple miles in my legs started to get sore. I had not hiked for more than 10 miles before and second guessed whether I was in shape enough to do this. Before long, though, I could see the Pacific ocean. It was a spectacular view and motivated me to press on.
Just past Bass Lake the trail wound through some woods. I stopped, looked up and heard nothing except the trees whispering and a few birds chirping. I held my hands to the sky and thanked God for the silence. Chills overcame me. This is what my soul craved, I said to myself.
Feeling recharged I continued on, winding my way out of the woods, along a narrow path, to an incredible overlook.
The air was fresh and alive with the early signs of spring. Step by step I kept going. Much of the trail skirted the coast. I paused occasionally to drink in all its natural beauty.
Soon, I found a perfect spot to have lunch.
Eventually, I made it to Wildcat Camp, used the facilities, then backtracked along the beach. As I walked along the gravely shore, I noticed the tide coming in. For a moment, I wondered if I would be stuck, but I could see the falls in the distance… Keep on…don’t quit before you finish, I thought.
As I made the final steps to the falls I was overcome with elation. I felt the coarse sand between my toes as I sat in stillness, allowing the calm cascade of the falls to sweep away any stress I had felt over the previous weeks and months. A seal bobbed its head and looked briefly toward the shore before swimming on in search of a tasty snack.
I love goals. I have always found them to be an exciting challenge. This one may not seem like a big deal for some, but for me it was. I was not nearly in as good of shape as I thought, but I made it.
Here’s to many more waterfalls, waves, and sunsets. To open grassy fields and fresh, clean air. To letting go and letting down your hair. To leaving the stress behind, without a care. Here’s to dreamers everywhere. May you set your sights on high and take the first step to your dreams and goals, and listen to the silence with a sigh.
May we all remember to take the time to stop and hear the roar of the falls or the crashing waves in our ever increasingly busy lives.