a fine afternoon at Olde Port Beach…

Yesterday’s weather was a perfect balmy 80 degrees or so outside. I opened my door and decided right then that it was absolutely necessary to get to the beach.

So I grabbed the necessities– my swimsuit, a towel, sunscreen, a few friends, a frisbee and a camera–and headed straight to Avila.

We parked along the road across from Olde Port Beach in Avila, where we walked down a boat loading ramp to get to the warm sand. A Sunday afternoon with friends, sun, sand, and surf– could you ask for anything more?

beautiful day for the beach!

We soaked up the sun and relaxed on our towels  with our toes in the sand for a little while before sprinting to the water’s edge. Each of us dipped a toe in to “test” the water before going in. I always find that funny when people touch the water to see how cold it is. It’s like we’re all just making sure that we didn’t suddenly end up in the warm water Bahamas. We live on the central coast. The water is always cold. No problem for us though; we stayed warm by throwing a frisbee around in the water.

playing frisbee at avila beach

I like Olde Port Beach a lot because it is never as crowded as Avila Beach and has fire pits so that you can have barbeque dinners or late-night bonfires.

It is also a spot frequented by kayakers and swimmers. By swimmers I mean both people and dogs. Yep, this beach is dog-friendly, so don’t be surprised if a black lab jumps into the waves alongside you.

If you want to check out something cool, drive past Olde Port Beach until you reach Port San Luis Pier, or Hartford Pier, and a parking lot with dry dock boats and Fat Cats Restaurant. If you park and walk all the way to the edge, past the boats, you will find yourself in a geologists’ paradise amongst a wall of pillow lava. Go at low tide to get an amazing glimpse of this geological masterpiece.

Take advantage of a sunny day and go to the sandy shores of Olde Port !

Happy sun- soaking !

rainy day? stay inside and climb away at a rock climbing gym

The weatherman predicts rain for the upcoming week, so how is an outdoor enthusiast supposed to get their fix?

Sure, you could slodge through muddy trails until you’re soaked, or you could go to an indoor gym and bike or run in place for an hour, but let’s be honest. Neither of those sound especially appealing.

Instead, head to a rock climbing gym.

indoor rock wall

I recently reconnected with rock climbing after many years, and I had forgotten how easily it is to get lost in climbing the wall. It is a sport that requires focus and determination; a competition between you and yourself that brings inner peace. It is a challenging sport, but oh so rewarding once you reach the top. Rock climbing is also a great form of exercise, instead of jogging on that painfully boring treadmill. I woke up the next morning wonderfully sore in my entire upper body.

I did bouldering, which is a form of rock climbing without ropes. Instead, the moves are more a test of strength and flexibility over endurance. While you do not climb as high, bouldering is still a challenge worth taking on.

an experienced climber bouldering at Rocknasium

Grab a friend and give indoor climbing a try!

If you have never been climbing before, places will usually offer beginner classes to show you the ropes (literally!) After that, you can climb with anyone, beginner or advanced. When I went I was climbing pretty beginner level, but I was with an experienced climber and we still had lots of fun bouldering( climbing lower heights without a rope) together even though we climb at different difficulty grades.

Here is an example of the grading system:

rocknasium climbing grades

Up in Davis is Rocknasium, which is the largest rock climbing gym I have ever seen. The staff is friendly and there is every kind of climbing course you could think of. Seriously, you can climb on the ceiling. It also comes complete with exercise equipment on top of the walls (in case you feel like being painfully bored on an immobile bicycle.) The only way to get to the equipment? By climbing, of course.

In San Luis Obispo the most popular rock climbing gym is the SLO-OP climbing gym, or for Cal Poly students there is always the now free (including shoes, harness, and helmet) rock wall  outside of Poly Escapes in the UU.

You can do indoor rock climbing rain or shine, it’s always a good time to climb.

Happy climbing!



walking the line

Last weekend I spent up in Davis, enjoying the Picnic Day festivities. I had to fight my way through hoards of intoxicated day-partiers crowding the streets just to get to campus and Picnic Day, but once there, I was introduced to a new quickly growing sport and hobby: slacklining.

 

slacklining

 

In front of the Outdoor Adventure building a small group of barefoot adventurists were taking turns walking along what looked like a wide rope a few feet above the ground and anchored between two trees. A very wobbly, stretchy rope. I watched for a while, fascinated by the spectacle. When I was asked to give it a try, I thought, “what the heck, it can’t be too hard…”

Oh, was I wrong. It was impossible to stay on for more than a second or two before the rope sent me diving towards the ground. But it was also incredibly addictive, like those annoying sudoku games that are impossible but you just cannot put them down. I must have tried five times just to take the first step without falling.

Now I’m hooked. So I decided to learn a little bit more about slacklining…

So what exactly is slacklining?

Simply put, it is balancing on the nylon fiber webbing that is stretched between two points on the ground. Turns out, that “rope” is actually a one-inch wide nylon webbing. It stretches under your weight, hence the name, “slacklining.” The points are typically about 15 to 100 feet in length. It is a workout for both mind and body, as it requires great focus to balance.

Where did slacklining come from?

It was originated in the 1980’s in Yosemite by climbers Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington. After spending rainy days walking along loose chain fences for entertainment, they decided to try using climbing equipment tied between two trees, and started the sport of slacklining. Slacklining was truly made popular by Dean Potter, a well-known rock climber.

Why should anyone slackline?

First off, it is incredibly addicting! But slacklining is also a sport to strengthen balance and self-discipline, much like yoga. Slacklining is known to be meditating and calming. It improves core strength, and many athletes use slacklining as part of their training. Not to mention it is a fun outdoor hobby that can be done just about anywhere.

What is the equipment needed to slackline?

A slackline, tensioning device and system to attach the slackline to two points, padding (if using trees), and two slings to put around the fixed points. Try slacklinebrothers.com or REI for a good set.

Here are the five types of slackline you can try:

lowlines: This is the most common and best to start out on. It is a few feet above the ground, generally the height of your hips, so that a fall to the ground is not too bad.

longlines: A line up to 100 feet is stretched across two points. This is more difficult because the slackline sways easier and further.

rodeo lines: Also known as “freestyle”, this line is looser and harder to do.

 

rodeo slacklining- Photo by Bernhard Friedrich

 

highlines: This seems to be one of the more popular forms, and also one of the most intense. Highlines must be set up by professionals and are too high to jump safely down to the ground from and require a second line or rope attached to the slackliner in a harness and the slackline in case the slackliner falls.

 

Highlining- Photo by Stefan Junghannss

 

waterlines: While waterlines are set up above water, so there is no solid surface to aid in jumping on the slackline, they are fun to do because the water is much more forgiving than a hard surface.

Whether you chose to slackline in a park or highline across a waterfall,

Happy slacking!

the adventures of kayaking…

The Central Coast provides an amazing kayaking experience. It is never too hot (or if it is, you can stick your toes in the cool water and instantly feel refreshed), abundant in wildlife, and offers many different locations to explore.

One easy, fun place to start your kayaking adventures is in Morro Bay. For a beginner like me, it was the perfect, calm environment to embark on my first kayaking experience.

The water was smooth and easy to navigate through in our double kayak. There were six kayaks in our group, which made for lots of friendly competition and racing to the sandspit, which sticks out through the middle of the bay. It was a fun place to stop and explore while we picnicked. Some of us ran around on the sandy beaches, and others lounged under the warm sun. There were lots of shore birds on the sandspit, and while we did not see any that day, deer and fox sightings are common there. Heading back into the water, we found ourselves in the company of sea otters and seals playing in the bay. Apparently they are used to kayakers, as one decided to swim right up to our kayak and say hello! With Morro Rock in the background and wildlife surrounding us, it was a great kayaking trip (and a great workout!)

There are lots of places in Morro Bay to rent kayaks from, but I used Sub Sea Tours and Kayaks because they seemed relatively inexpensive and accommodate groups. The kayaks are sit-on-top style, and you can rent either single ($9/ hour) or double seater ($16/ hour). If you are planning on kayaking here with a big group, check out the war canoes, which seat 4-12 people and cost $60 for two hours.

Here are some other kayak rental places in Morro Bay:

Now, don’t stop the kayaking at Morro Bay! The Central Coast has many scenic kayaking locations. Further south is Pismo Beach, Shell Beach, and Avila, where Central Coast Kayaks offers tours and kayak rentals. If you want to go further north, try Monterey Bay, which has a beautiful kayaking environment. A popular rental place in Monterey Bay is Monterey Bay Kayaks, which offers many group packages and rental choices.

If you love sunsets and want to kayak in the summer, look for evening and sunset kayaking tours offered at many of the kayak rental locations. What could be more tranquil than gliding through glassy waters as an orange sun tints the western sky a warm pink?

No matter where you decide to kayak, be sure to wear water friendly clothes, sun friendly accessories, and an environmentally friendly attitude.

Happy kayaking!

Montana de Oro: Mountain of Gold…and great hiking!

The easiest way to get outdoors in the central coast is to grab your boots and go hiking!

My favorite hiking spot so far, and a pretty close one if you live in SLO, is Montana de Oro. Located just south of Los Osos, this “Mountain of Gold”  has many different trails, all with breathtaking views of the coast and surrounding hills.

To get there, take Los Osos Valley road about twelve miles until it bends south and turns into Pecho Valley Road. The trails are located all along this road.

One trail to try in particular is Bluff Trail, which is a little bit further down Pecho Valley Road. It is a fairly easy hike along the cliffs and the jagged coastline creates absolutely spectacular views. There are sea stacks and sea arches all throughout the trail. There are also spots along the trail where you can climb down the layers of rocks and walk along the beach. If the tide is low, you may be able to find some sea caves lining the bottoms of the cliffs. Be careful to watch the tide.

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When I hiked this trail, I found it very easy and there are benches throughout the hike to rest and enjoy the view from if you get tired. Bluff trail is a great hike for all ages and a great spot for taking pictures.

If you drive a little further down past Bluff trail to the end of the road you will find yourself on PG&E land. Here you may be able to hike on Point Buchon trail, which offers the most stunning views of all of the Montana de Oro trails. The trail is open from 8am to 4pm, and is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you plan on hiking Point Buchon trail, make sure to leave enough time to sign in at the gatehouse at the foot of the trail and sign back out before 3:45pm.

If you’re looking to go camping, try Spooner’s Cove. It is a popular site for beachgoers, surfers, and scuba divers. Campsites are located just across from Spooner’s Cove. For divers, Spooner’s is a fantastic dive on a good day and there are lots of rocks covered with life at about 30-40ft but there are pretty strong swells so make sure to check conditions before going in. If you just want to spend the day, there are day facilities available for use and there is lots of beach side parking available.

The best time to visit Montana de Oro is on warm, sunny days, but bring a light jacket as it can often get chilly and windy.

Happy trails!

What to remember while preparing for your outing…

Living in or around the Central Coast is perfect for those who love embracing nature and getting outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Earth’s most beautiful treasures are just a step outside, and all that you need to do is throw on a pair of shoes (or not, if you’re the go-barefoot kind of person) take in a deep breath of fresh air, and open your eyes to the accessibility of the world around you. Before exploring the Central Coast’s beauties, though, you should read these handy tips to keeping your adventures safe and enjoyable.

If you plan to go on the trails, remember:

Sunscreen: With any outdoor activity, sunscreen is essential. The central coast sun makes beautiful days, but can cause a lot of damage to your skin if you don’t protect with sunscreen. For more sensitive skin types, look into using sunblock instead. You should try to apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every one to two hours for the most protection.

Proper Shoes: Many people overlook this important element when going outdoors, and think that any shoe will work. Believe it or not, I have seen people attempting to hike up hills in flimsy sandals, only to give up halfway. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes with strong soles that will not make you slip on rocky paths. Plus, wearing proper shoes reduces the risk of injury on the trails and soreness after a long day of hiking.

Water and a small snack: On warm, sunny days, water is incredibly important. Aim to drink a half liter of water for every mile accomplished. Drinking lots of water will prevent problems such as heat exhaustion, muscle cramps, headaches, and fatigue. To keep my hands free I use a CamelBak hydration pack. They also have reusable water bottles you can purchase. A snack, such as a Clif Bar, dried fruit or bag of trail mix will keep your glucose levels up and give you the energy to hike as far as your heart desires.

Map: Just in case you have never hiked a certain trail, try to grab a map of the trail just in case you get lost. Even though most cell phones have GPS nowadays doesn’t mean they are going to have service out on the trails.

Proper clothing: Wear clothes that are breathable, comfortable, and give some protection from the sun and from pesky insects! Tall socks are helpful in keeping off ticks, and longer shorts also protect your legs from leaves brushing against you on the trail. You may want to consider a hat and sunglasses to add extra protection.

Lastly, don’t forget the camera to capture all of the interesting wildlife you see on your outdoor adventures!

Happy exploring!