There are some hills I can’t climb…a.k.a. Knowing when to turn around…

Let me start off by saying, I don’t like turning around.  My first inclination is to push forward in order to find out what lay ahead, mostly since I have already been where I just came from. Occasionally, I find myself in the position, usually one where my safety would be compromised, where I must turn around.  I could read further into it and say I don’t like looking back, I don’t like admitting making mistakes, I don’t want to repeat my steps. Even though I have come to realize the return perspective is a completely different view and experience and allows us to notice things we might not have before, it’s an idea that is hard to relinquish.

After waking up to gorgeous ridge-side views above a fogged in coastline, I took a  drive along a one-lane dirt road: the South Coast Ridge in the Los Padres National Forest off Nacimiento-Ferguson Rd.  The guidebook said it was an easy road… I think I should check the publication date.  I found myself attempting a hill climb that was really meant for 4WD (which, even though I have a 4runner, it’s only 2WD) but I didn’t know it until I was half way up, wheels spinning beneath me, kicking out loose chunks of rock and smaller debris.  The acrid scent of rubber heated to it limit replaced freshness that was in the air.  I was not going to make it up the hill.  I have made it up terrain like these on my KLR, but I was not going to be taking this route to Highway 1 in my 4runner.  The coast was going to have to wait.

My hands were shaking with heightened nerves and my heart was thumping in my throat as I put my truck in reverse, backing down the steep incline, hoping to make it around the bend in a controlled slide in the provided path and not beyond it over the banked gravel and down the side of the mountain. Even though I had jumped out of a plane days prior, I was more fearful now, with fate in my hands on the wheel, hoping my skills and the brakes were good enough to get me and the heavy beast of a SUV out of this mess.   Alas, they did; I found a spot where the road widened barely enough to turn the vehicle around, and then retraced my tire tracks back to the main paved road.  I was happy to see asphalt, but not nearly as excited to see the road from the reverse view.

The reality is that turning around isn’t that big of a deal, sometimes it’s the smarter choice, sometimes it’s the only choice.  I have to embrace the idea that it will give a different perspective and opportunity for experience.  If anything, I appreciate the fact that I am around for another day to ride, to explore, to play.

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