To Our Ojai Community:

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we recover from the damage from the Thomas Fire on our trails. In the coming months trails will likely open and close depending on rain and changing trail conditions. Click here for current information and trail notifications »

My Favorite Outdoor Activity by Callie Little

IMG_2181Born and raised in the beautiful Ojai Valley, it’s difficult to not appreciate the mountains that surround us. Some of my very first memories include trudging up Pratt trail with my mom and dog. Although my little legs were sore and my lungs hurt from the incline, I still gazed around with wonder at the beautiful trails and foothills I was walking through. Many years later, I still have this experience of awe while trekking up Gridley or looking down at the valley from Horn Canyon. The experience of climbing up a hill or mountain and being able to look down and see the view from what seems like the top of the world is what makes hiking my favorite outdoor activity.

Not only is hiking great exercise, it provides an escape from the developed world and into the mountains and trails of the wild. Rarely are people able to personally appreciate nature nowadays, but hiking through trails and up mountains gives a glimpse into the past of a land that was once run by the natural progression of Earth instead of human development. One of my favorite hiking trails is on the beautiful island of Catalina, which I have been lucky enough to visit numerous times. Catalina is already an island that seems untouched from the mainland world of human expansion and creation, but the hiking trails at Toyon Bay take you up through blossoming mountains full of wildlife and native plants. Trekking up through the valleys and hillsides gives an untouched glimpse at what California must have been like prior to settlement and gives a sense of peace as you reach the top to find the majestic Pacific ocean and the surrounding beauty of the island. The very experience of hiking through undeveloped land and reaching the top to see a sight that can only be described as awesome prompts me to appreciate the land and natural world that so often go overlooked.

Hiking in Ojai is also a family tradition I hold dear to my heart and always associate with Christmas. Perhaps it has been the company of my parents – especially my mom – that has made hiking in Ojai feel like a special event that is intertwined with a sense of family tradition and always will be. Although I hike less and less with my family as time goes on, Christmas day is the one day a year I can always count on taking an evening hike on my mom’s favorite trail and looking over the valley at dusk with my parents and dog. Hiking brings us closer together as a family on this special day as I can always count on my dad explaining his newest biking adventure, my mom and I singing carols, and us all reminiscing on Christmas’ past as we make our way up a steep hill. Hiking feels like family to me as well as a tradition I know we won’t lose anytime soon.

Hiking is more than just an outdoor activity to me – it’s a full experience. Standing at the high point of a difficult trail gets me out of my own head as I examine the beautiful world we are all so lucky to live in but don’t always appreciate. Hiking gives a look into the amazing natural world of plants and animals not usually seen in everyday life but that are still there and thriving. It shows the beauty and the bounty that the Earth provides while taking you back to a time before settlement and the daily concerns of modern life. Hiking also gives me the personal sense of family and the appreciation for the life I have, the place I live, and the people I have to share it with. I don’t think I could ask for a better place or a better activity to slow life down, appreciate the moment, and just stand back to enjoy the view.

The Growing Up Wild Scholarship program opens for applications February 1, 2016. Submissions must be in by March 4, 2016. The OVLC will announce the winner after March 22, 2016. Click here to learn more »