It’s early Thursday morning when I park my car at the foot of Bishop Peak. I drag a foot over the threshold of the driver’s side door and moan as my incredibly white, exposed shins soak in the first signs that it is going to be a really, really hot walk to the top of this mount. I reach into the backseat and pull out two big canteens and a large stick.
- PHOTOS COURTESY OF ECOSLO
- HIKIN' KIND OF PEOPLE : Lots of folks signed up to help make the first ever EcoSLO Hike-A-Thon a huge success. An after-party to celebrate EcoSLO and the good, philanthropic, and hiking people of SLO County is scheduled to take place at El Chorro Regional Park on June 29 from 3 to 7 p.m.
A young couple with a dog pulls up in their car next to me, and the young woman practically leaps from the vehicle as the car comes to a complete stop in the dirt. The young man emerges a few moments later, and the kinetic energy produced by these two people is enough to make an off-leash toddler at Disneyland tired.
They bolt up the foot of the peak like there is a bucket of crispy-style chicken and a cold six pack waiting up there for them.
“Maybe there is?” My heat-saturated brain whimpers to my legs in a cheap effort to get them moving.
The young dude looks back and gives me a bro-nod (the up and down movement of one’s head to signal the presence of a kindred spirit or deep, philosophical understanding) as if to say, “Look at us … both being so fit and active on a Thursday morning.”
Little does he know that I used an entire tub of Icy Hot on my lower back and I filled my canteens with sugar-free Red Bull.
- PHOTOS COURTESY OF ECOSLO
- TRASHY : EcoSLO has been a pivotal agency in keeping SLO County trails maintained, visible, and free of debris. EcoSLO also hosts educational programs, raises money for conservation efforts locally, and organizes beach cleanups to keep the Central Coast one of the most scenic and welcoming places in the world.
I am not an active person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do try. And I especially love trying when it comes to the local landscape.
I bring out the large stick I had packed into the car. It gives the impression that I’ve walked so much in the last 24 years that I require a stick to keep me moving, but it’s actually a stick I use to keep snakes at a three-foot distance. I’m a fan of a large variety of local wildlife; snakes are not one of those things. I am grateful for their service to the environment, but I want them to be like the underwear drawer gnomes that steal my socks: unseen for their own protection.
So why am I doing this hike? First, I love the wide variety of scenic beauty San Luis Obispo offers. Second, I actually do enjoy summiting Bishop Peak and enjoying the ocean view between the heaves and sobs of my out-of-shape lungs. Third, I want to help the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO) promote its June Hike-A-Thon fundraiser and after-party on June 29.
ECOSLO has been using the month of June to raise funds for their numerous conservation and education projects throughout the county by having SLO County residents hike and pledge money to the cause. Now that June is coming to an end, they are planning an epic after-party on June 29 to celebrate everyone who participated and raised money.
From 3 to 7 p.m. at El Chorro Regional Park, you can come celebrate (even if you didn’t participate) with a spread of food for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, music by Proxima Parada and the Red Willows, and a hike courtesy of the Botanical Gardens. Tickets are $15 for adults and children under 12 are $5. Tickets are available through ecoslo.org.
Prizes will be given to top participants in the Hike-A-Thon during the after party.
I’m thinking about all the good ECOSLO does for the Central Coast trails as I ascend the peak of Bishop after a sweaty and Red Bull-driven hike. I see the Energizer Bunny couple doing jumping jacks near a bench before they descend to their car, and take off, no doubt to some celebratory Bikram yoga and wheat grass shots. The jealousy pulsating through my hands almost causes me to drop my snake-blocking stick just as a garter snake slithers by and pauses to look out at the view. He stares back at me for a second and I can almost hear him saying, “You look ridiculous with that stick and should probably lose 30 pounds. Isn’t this view incredible? I slither it every day.”
Snakes are judgmental creatures. Be sure to check out the ECOSLO Hike-A-Thon after-party and support a local cause that does us all (even the snakes) a world of good.
For more info, visit ecoslo.org.
Calendar Editor Maeva Considine was last seen passed out at a local Jamba Juice in hiking gear, carrying a snake stick. Send information on your latest sightings of her to email@example.com.