Not to be completely obvious, but we live in a unique environment. Isla Vista crams around 12,000 students into two square miles filled with endless Snappa, fine eateries, carnal pursuits and good ol’ fashioned American debauchery. All of these qualities are as accessible as it gets, and all of this became an immediate reality when I was kicked out of the dorms freshman year for planning and carrying out a food fight with my floor. While a flying food frenzy in DLG seemed like a good idea at the time, it wasn’t. And for any of you who may believe otherwise, trust me — it’s just a guarantee that you’ll be sleeping on a crusty couch in I.V. before that last mashed potato grenade hits the ginger serving the pizza.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been deported into I.V. or if you willfully moved in with the help of your parents on a crisp summer day; it’s too easy to be comfortable with what is offered here, and with that comfort comes stagnation. I wouldn’t have Isla Vista any other way, but we aren’t forced to adapt and develop unless we are uncomfortable with our surroundings. Such easy access to immediate amenities develops a bubble effect that keeps many Isla Vistans content to settle within the vortex of drunkenness between El Colegio and Del Playa.
So, rather than spend a column focusing on Isla Vista’s idiosyncrasies, I’d like to expand the realm of where we live a bit further and push the boundaries of what we claim as Gaucho territory. Consider the greater Santa Barbara area, which offers a variety of terrain to be conquered. We have idyllic beaches on one side and staggered mountains with winding trails on the other. On either side, you have views that make postcards envious. There are beaches to run, tide pools to explore, rock faces to climb, trails to get lost on and adventures to be sought. A great quality to all of these events is the price of admission: only the gas it takes to get you there. It doesn’t matter whether you choose the boulder playgrounds or the surf session at Rincon or El Capitán, the point is to break out of I.V. and get into the wild.
Wondering how or where to get started? Fear not; that’s where I come in. I’m no Davy Crockett and I can’t lug anyone up a mountain, but what I can do is present outdoor experiences to be had and hazards to avoid, backed up by 8 years of scouting, orienteering and general mountaineering. That being said, I’d like to present the first adventure of the series: Seven Falls.
This is a hike in the front country of the Santa Ynez Mountains. It begins at the Tunnel Road Trailhead, which is an easy 15-minute drive from I.V. into the foothills above downtown Santa Barbara. This is the most accessible, easy and fun hike in the area. It’s around two to three miles with an 800-foot elevation change that ends at seven small waterfalls and pools to take a dip in. The trail begins on an old electric utility road that erodes into a dirt path. Eventually this route will run you into the river where you get to choose between taking the trail beside the river or splashing your way up to the falls. Once you reach your destination, there is rock climbing, sun lounging and sliding and jumping into pools of water. Like any waterfall, the amount of water and flow depends on the season and the weather. It’s normally dry this time of year, so I would recommend going after a good hard rain. Overall this is an excellent short hike that anyone can accomplish. It’s a great way to diverge from your normal weekend routine and work off that hangover instead of wallowing in it.
Isla Vista offers instant gratification to every whim a college kid could call upon, and this sometimes traps us here in a bubble of complacency. We all came to college for different reasons, but the underlying cause is progress and development. Break away from the everyday routine and get out there, explore and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Santa Barbara’s environment offers an incredible landscape that needs to be taken advantage of. Seven Falls is waiting. Take your friends, take a 12 pack and take a hike.
Harrison Gibson is a fourth-year biology major.
Directions to Seven Falls: From 101 South, take exit 101A toward la Cumbre Road. Turn left onto Las Palmas Drive and continue onto South La Cumbre Road. From there, turn right onto State Street. Next, take a left onto Alamar Avenue. After about a half of a mile, turn right onto Foothill Road. Next, turn left onto Mission Canyon Road. Stay left at the fork in the road and continue onto Tunnel Road. The trailhead is at the end of Tunnel Road.