Hike a state park.

That’s the idea of First Day Hike, a nationwide program that promotes taking a hike on New Year’s Day in a state park.

Harbor Seals Sleep-in on New Year's Day, Carpinteria Beach
Harbor Seals Sleep-in on New Year’s Day, Carpinteria Beach

On a cool and overcast, but certainly not dreary afternoon, I set out across the bluffs of Carpinteria State Beach—which so happens to be the closest state parkland to my home. I was pleased to see a lot of trail activity, with hikers, from about 7 to 75 years old, meandering the blufftops and walking the sandy shoreline.

Highlight for many hikers was a stop at a cliff-top vista point for a look down at about 100 harbor seals hauled out on the beach. A docent stood by to answer questions about the inhabitants of the Harbor Seal Reserve.

I enjoyed meeting and helping out some fellow hikers: taking a family photo at the request of a vacationing family on the beach; helping a senior hiker climb over a wooden railing and back on the trail when she got on the wrong side of the fence.

After all the news talk on this New Year’s Day about going over the fiscal cliff (an artifice to be sure), it was great being out and walking atop a real cliff. Maybe our politicians should take a hike, too. I might just help them re-connect with the beauty of this country and what is really important.