No, this isn’t the Ho Chi Minh trail you’re thinking of. This one is in La Jolla, San Diego and it connects a wealthy neighborhood to the wild beach. Apparently this trail was used by surfers as a shortcut to the beach, which sounds fine but seems physically impossible once you realize you need both hands and both feet to climb down. This trail is definitely not for beginners (my roommates found that out the hard way), but it is so worth the sweat and scrapped knees.
The main reason I wanted to climb this trail was the stand stone carvings that I’d seen pictures of online. It was 1000 times more amazing in person, but these pictures are pretty cool too.
The sandstone forms a canyon that we had to climb through, which is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I felt like a real explorer as I scaled the edges and jumped from one level to the next.
The only bad thing about the sandstone canyon is that I was so focused on going forward, maneuvering through it’s narrow curves, that I looked up at one point and noticed just how narrow everything had gotten… and how tall the canyon was… and how small I was… and then I remembered what I’d read online about how these sandstone walls were at risk of crumbling down in an avalanche at any moment.
Ok maybe that last part was a little bit of an exaggeration, but in that second all I could focus on was the lack of air around me and the towering sides closing in. My chest started constricting and my breath was getting faster and faster. All I knew was that I had to get out of there. Immediately. Not knowing what was ahead, I yelled over my shoulder to my roommates as I high tailed it back the way we came.
This whole ordeal has taught me a pretty cool lesson, I must say- adrenaline does wonders for the impossible.
On the way down, I didn’t think about how to get back up; I just jumped down when it was too high, slid forward when I had no traction, and asked for advice when I was stuck.
On the way up, however, I was alone with only one thought in my head, “GET. OUT. NOW.” Adrenaline did the rest for me. I somehow scaled my way out of the canyon until I felt the calming ocean breeze on my face.
I’ve never had a panic attack before, but this was definitely the closest I’ve ever been. I had no idea I was that claustrophobic, but luckily this incident didn’t ruin the rest of the trip for me. I had a great time climbing the rest of the way down, and the beach was gorgeous!
ANYWAYS, here are the pictures from our hike through the Ho Chi Minh trail.