Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pt. Reyes Backpacking, Pt.2

We took our morning coffee on the beach.

We watched the mouth of the stream collapsing the banks of sand that it had carved. I felt like I couldn’t take enough pictures to record the beauty that I saw.

After breakfasting on Grape-nuts mixed with trail mix and powdered milk watered up, we hit the trail. This was to be our first long day of hiking.

I couldn’t believe the wildflowers! I sketched many of them, took pictures of a few, and tried to memorize the rest. I had not spared the weight for any nature guides, but hoped to identify what I could. The best find I had was a low charming fuzzy little flower with a unique looking three petal arrangement. 'Elegant cat’s ears' was what I found out it was called. The lupine was everywhere. And ordinary mallow sported extra-lovely pink blooms.

We decided to take what beach access trails we had the time for and turned off down Sculptured Beach Trail. Not long into the decent, we met a couple with a dog who asked us breathlessly if we had a cell phone. Yes, but our phones had not had service since we arrived at Pt Reyes peninsula. A man had fallen from the cliff and was badly hurt down below! We agreed that they would continue up the trail to the ranger station and we would go down and see what help we could offer.

Erin had had rescue training, and besides that had the best bedside manner of the three of us, so she slipped down the little rock ledge to the crescent beach where he had drug himself the night before to gain shelter from the tides.

Melinda and I tossed down water bottles and food as she requested. We had some brownies left over from the night before, and she reported back that he said it “was like heaven” when she gave one to him. At first we were concerned about giving him food, but when we found out he was a trauma surgeon, we figured he knew what he was about.

When his buddies showed up, and when the rescue helicopters flew in, we knew our part was over, so we slipped away back up the trail.

We took the opportunity to check out other beach accesses along the trail, all of them lovely and satisfying, with waterfalls, cliffs, iron-stained rock, and crashing waves.

We were very excited to see our next campsite, Wildcat, laid out before us near the end of the day. We’d heard that our site, #7, was “The best one,” and I believe that was true. It was slightly protected from the sea breeze, close to the beach trail, and felt private.

The wild mustard was blooming insanely over the whole camp area. When I think back to the camp, all I can see in my mind’s eye is yellow, radioactive yellow.

We set up our tents and checked out the beach trail.

Part of the trail was covered in a trickling stream. I took a big deep step in a sticky mud bog walking down. But that wasn’t too bad because after that, I didn’t have to be careful anymore!

We took our dinner, which was chicken tortilla soup, down to the beach to eat. Thankfully, the wind was nothing like it had been the evening before.

We sat in the sand and sipped our steaming hot soup, drinking in the sunset over the water.

More hot cocoa and good conversation back at the camp and then off to bed. Again, I stayed warm!

Though I’m sure the Nalgene bottle of hot water in my sleeping bag didn’t hurt.

We took our morning coffee down at the beach again, admiring the waves, trying to decide if the tide was coming in our going out.

This day of hiking took us through some very interesting territory. At some points I felt like I was in a rain forest jungle. Then, all of a sudden, we entered a dark, sunless, pine tree shaded cave-like trail section.

Some sections took us along the precarious cliff overlook, some took us inland through the shrubs and wildflowers. And everywhere, there was poison oak, newly green and shiny red. The whole shape of Drake’s Bay was laid out before us as we stood at the cliff’s edge. I could see the Farallon Islands at the sea’s horizon.

We were nearing Palomarin Trailhead, the end of our trail the last section took us through eucalyptus groves, and I thought about what had brought these Australian trees halfway across the world to the California Coastline so many years before. I could smell the fragrant eucalyptus aroma as my feet crushed the pods scattered over the trail.

And then, all of a sudden, we came to the staircase and the end of our trail.

We shrugged off our packs and fell into the seat of Melinda’s truck, digging out ibuprofen to stave off muscle soreness later on.

We drove back to the hostel to my truck and divided up our stuff. Erin and Melinda took off for home, but I still felt like exploring. I drove on down Limantour Road to see what Limantour Beach was like.

Limantour Beach was only a mile or so away. Parking was available for horse trailers, so I knew it was probably a nice beach to take a horse ride, if a person had the patience to work their way across the peninsula to get to that point! The place was practically deserted, probably because it was 4pm on a Monday.

Crossing the marsh in front of the beach was easy and scenic with the nice bridge.

I loved the feeling of being on such a wide and long sandy beach, deserted, alone. The waves were quite high, the breeze was lightly blowing. The sun was coming across at a late spring afternoon angle, blue and clear, with only a slightly hazy horizon. Up the beach, to the north, I walked and walked. I would have walked as long as there was sand to walk on, but my practical nature took over and I made plans to turn around and walk back. Right then, I saw a post, solid set, alone right there on the beach. I set my camera on it, put it on automatic, and took a picture of myself.

What is it about the sea that is so glorious?

Now it was time to go home, so I waded through the sand of the beach trail, back to the parking lot and into Truckita, dialing up “Home” on Kathleen (GPS). Now that I had missed the major commuter hours, my trip home was pleasant and uneventful. A nice time to go over in my mind our trip, and to think about the next one!


  1. Boy, I leave home and you become a posting fiend!

    Good stories. Almost make me wish I had gone.


  2. Heh, I wrote them both together and then split them and scheduled the 2cnd part to post the next day.
    Well maybe I will invite you sometime!

  3. I like the idea of a nice, secluded camp spot next to the ocean like that.

    I hope you got pictures of all that lovely wild mustard you were talking about?!

  4. Wow, what a dramatic day!

    We went to Pt Reyes (day trip) around Christmas, and it was plenty beautiful then. I'm really excited to go hiking there this summer when it's green and pretty :)

  5. What a wonderful trip to a special place. I've been there in the cold rain and in the warm, calm sunshine. Love your descriptive writing, too!

  6. I am very excited to have discovered a wonderful new place to go and visit!