I have been hiking for years long before I had a smartphone; I had a stupid phone and a paper map. It served me well. I never cared how many miles I went, how long it would take to get anywhere, or what to expect. I walked to walk and I knew I was off course when I had a little feeling in my gut telling me I wasn’t where I should be.
Now I have my GPS-tracker app on the moment I park the truck. I look at the app rather than my surroundings to find to the trailhead. While sometimes it comes in handy, I really need to stop relying on it.
Arriving into the first parking lot I see, I realize I’ve been here before—but I had done the hike from the other end. And it wasn’t really a hike. Devil’s Slide is a paved path, and a while back my friend Carolina and I had started at the bottom and turned around here at the top. The app said I was in the right place, so I surmised that maybe Pedro’s Point, the trail I was here to take, was an offshoot of this one.
Tucker and I headed toward the trailhead for Devil’s Slide. I didn’t see any smaller trails, but from what I read it was a dirt path—and this was not a dirt path. My GPS wasn’t giving me any warning that I was off path, so we kept walking. And honestly, it's not like the view was terrible or anything.
We were walking in the wrong direction. And this mountain filled with abandoned artillery was blocking my cell phone reception. We walked back up the hill, I refreshed the app, and boom, there I was, a mile away from the trailhead. We had walked in the exact opposite direction of the trail.
So, uphill we climbed, back to the truck and I wondered where the trail might be. There was a road—Highway 1—right there, which is why I hadn't looked in that direction before. We walked to the end of the drive, turned left at the road, and there, just a a few yards away was a little tiny sign announcing the entrance to Pedro Point Headlands.
Arriving at what seemed like it could be a parking lot one day, we chose one of the four trails leading out. I consulted my app again, this time not fully trusting it, and chose the one my gut was telling me was the right path. It led through a Eucalyptus grove.
When we came to the path’s natural end, it turned out nature was thriving so much, there was little expanse to see. So we turned around and hiked back to the main trail.
I was wrong.
Tucker and I paused a moment on the peak I thought would be our turnaround spot. Sitting on a rock for a moment, Tucker even took a load off to stare off into the mountains to the southeast of us.
When the man caught his breath, I asked (while maintaining my social distance), “Is it worth it?”
He looked back at the mountain and his female companion who had taken a moment to stare at her shoes and get some more oxygen about half way up the steep incline, and smiled ever so slightly, “Oh, yeah, definitely.”
So Tucker and I headed downhill once more, and then straight back up again.
The hiker was right.
Looking north, we saw the almost abandoned beach and town.