At the end of our Asia trip last year I purposefully tacked on a few open ended days in California to do whatever my heart desired. I had seen several pics on @Erubes Instagram feed of secret Man-made pools in Laguna Beach. That’s where my heart was calling, but try as I may I couldn’t seem to get exact directions to lead me to the pools. The most I could find was a very general consensus that they were accessed from the Thousand Steps beach and through some sea cave. It turns out that the pools in question are a best-kept secret for locals of Laguna, and knowing all too well the pitfalls of a tourist trap, I can understand and respect that.
Two roadblocks kept coming up in my quest to conquer these pools. The first was to beware of lifeguards as they would obstruct you from going if they caught you. The second was the path through a sea cave where the tide played a big part in whether or not the route was even accessible.
There’s a very interesting story to be told about adventuring solo. In my case, no matter how many times I’ve done it, there is still a giant sense of anxiety and excitement each time I’m about to embark on a new adventure. This further compounded because I was traveling as a team for the past three weeks to suddenly being ‘all by myself’ and the shift compounded the feeling.
That Monday morning I woke up extra early and headed to Thousand Steps Beach. Each of the thousand steps (more like 250 steps, but 250 steps beach doesn’t have the same ring to it eh) I took down to the beach were more Nerve wracking than the last as I kept wondering if I had the guts to go through with my mission. As my feet touched the sand I didn’t even stop to hesitate. Now that I had gotten down to the beach I had to trek across to the cave with my invisible cloak so the lifeguard police wouldn’t see me. It’s not like I thought they were going to put me in Beach prison or anything, but who wants anyone blowing a whistle and reprimanding them! The best conflict resolution lies in no conflict at all. And I had a lame excuse, not really an excuse actually, it’s just called playing dumb. But I had hoped I wouldn’t have to use it cause I was already feeling pretty dumb.
After what felt like a kilometer walk I finally got to the cave and deduced that I had eluded Baywatch. The only thing is that the cave was basically literally in the sea. I have been through several sea caves before but none that felt as frightening as this. I had also looked up what the low tide would be before using a website I was referred to, but they only give one time and I had to cross twice so I figured I’d cross in what I figured was almost low tide. Wearing only a flimsy pair of slippers and a backpack I maneuvered my way through the cave as quickly as I could. All the while the thoughts raced through my mind of being swept out to sea for something as foolish as what I was doing.
Then I made it to the other side! There was no pool to see. Only rock formations and a sign that said no trespassing! Could the lifeguards I thought I had eluded been on the other side like a cruel joke whisking me away after I already had to go through the chills of the cave? I continued for more steps until the beach and pools became visible to me. The only issue; I was high up on these rock formations and there was a good couple feet between me and the beach. We’re talking enough feet that if I jumped there was a real risk of spraining my ankle. The precipice was tier-ed so I had to carefully climb down to reach my goal.
The backpack and tripod I had on me weighed me down so I had to throw them ahead of me to give myself the best shot. It took me a minute or more to throw my tripod down as the second I let it go I couldn’t retrieve it without going through with the plan. It was the moment of truth, but I had come too far! With no more hesitation, I threw the tripod which was supposed to land on the tier below me! Instead, as humorously as you would expect it rolled and dropped straight on the sand where the waves immediately started to wash it away! If nothing else strengthened my resolve it was the thought of losing the tripod I spent good good money on just a few days before! My chiney (read: Chinese and cheap) instincts kicked in faster than you can say prime two-day shipping and I was scaling tiers and swinging like a monkey to save my tripod! And just like that I had hit the beach and ultimately reached the hidden pools.
Nothing feels better than a good sense of accomplishment! I had reached the top of the mountain or rather the tip of the beach! And yet, even though I had gotten this far it would have all been for naught if I couldn’t say I had swum in the pool. You see, even though I was there I was still worried about magical lifeguards coming to try and ruin my day. That and the anxiety that everything I had gone through I would soon have to do all over again! Oh, and I had a late checkout but I didn’t want to spend a penny over what my room had already cost!
There is a hilarious episode of South Park where Cartman so desperately wants to go to the amusement park that he sneaks in with the authorities closing in behind him. He moves through every ride and treat with a swift velocity. That was me! Undress, jump in the sub-zero freezing water, ooh that’s cold, oh that’s amazing, take a picture, snap a next, move Camera, jump in other pool, take a pic, take a next, move the camera, now let’s get moving! The destination was amazing, and truly not something I allowed myself to savor. I only hope I get to do it again, and maybe next time with friends. But for that day, after the excitement and anxiety had worn down, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment as I had conquered one of the more adrenaline rushed solo adventures that I have been on!