Climbing Cowles (Or Any Mountain, Really)

For some reason (maybe it’s the snow) I’ve been California dreaming.

I went to San Diego two summers ago to visit my best friend, and there’s something breathtakingly beautiful about a place that’s forever busy, yet forever half-hidden in the shadow of the ocean fog, sun, and thousands of barefooted feet on sand. (I’ve been pretty nostalgic lately.)

On the second day of my trip, my best friend, her little brother, and I climbed Cowles Mountain–the highest point in the city, and the place with the most beautiful view.

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I remember climbing. I remember the sun warming my back, crisping my shoulders. I remember the sweat running down my face. I remember the way the rocks and pebbles shifted under my feet as I climbed. The air was thick with ocean fog, the heat heavy, but the air was clear. I took a deep breath and I could feel my lungs expanding as I stepped higher.

There is something about climbing a mountain that reconnects your soul to the body. The way your muscles, your breathing, your mind have to work as one. How you have to push yourself, even as your legs give out, because there is something far greater waiting at the top.

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I remember being at the top and looking over the city. It wasn’t my city, wasn’t my home, but I felt so connected to it. To the way that I had climbed, breathed, strained, all to see this view and to become a part of it.

There’s something about climbs that do that to you–a little hill, a giant mountain, the work to get to the top becomes the journey itself. You remember the way the sun filtered through the clouds or how the gravel felt underneath your shoes.

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The top, then, just becomes the sense of peace. You feel the breeze, the sun kissing your damp skin. You have accomplished something, and now you are free to stand and embrace it all.

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I guess as I Cali-dream, I’ve really miss the way I felt on top of that mountain. Separated from the rest of the world, looking over it. Disconnected from reality, but at the same time, so deeply connected with nature and myself–my pulse, my breathing, my strained muscles, and my sense of peace that can only be reached post-adrenaline, at the peak of a challenge.

I hope that this can be a reminder to you as it was for me today–the things, the mountains aren’t meant to be obstacles to climb until you reach the top. As you climb, you become more connected with yourself, more connected with the world. That journey is essential. The top is the realization that yes, you are stronger than you thought. 

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