If last summer was focused on food, this summer is about hikes, nature, and exploring the outdoors (with some significant attention still paid to food, of course)!
California so far has lived up to its hype! Where I’m staying (a little townhouse) is just a few minutes’ walk from the Indian Valley Open Space Preserve, so I’ve been going on lovely little walks/runs/hikes though there almost every morning. My first weekend here, my mom and I went on the Tomales Point Hike in Point Reyes, on a beautiful, exceptionally clear day for northern California, and I decided I would definitely be returning. Point Reyes National Seashore covers an enormous area, so there are lots of trails to explore. (Better yet, for my budget, there’s no entry fee!) The hike my mom and I went on was a beautiful trail right along the coast, surrounded by wildflowers of all varieties. We also passed two herds of tule elk! My mom was a little concerned by my proximity when I captured the photo below of a male tule elk staring right at me – but no charging occurred! At the top of a little rise, my mom and paused to share an almond croissant (quite good!) we’d gotten at a little muffin shop/bakery near our hotel, called Muffin Mania. Then we turned around, and headed back to our car for a few adventures in San Francisco before my mom departed.
The following weekend, my roommate Julia and I headed to a different part of Point Reyes (like I said, it’s huge), to hike a trail to Alamere Falls. The first rather funny part of this story is that I did not precisely communicate the length of said trail to Julia – I did send her the link to the site describing the trails, so I presumed she realized what she was getting into. But, what she told me after the hike (not during, of course, she was absolutely a trooper!), is that she had seen the “7 mile” listing on the website, and assumed that was the round trip distance. As it turns out, the hike was actually more like 15 miles, round trip. Whoops! In any case, we made it!
The trail was absolutely gorgeous. It was a cool, somewhat foggy day, and it honestly felt like we were walking through a cloud forest at some points. We walked up mountainside (Julia is a fast walker and we kept up a brisk pace), through beautiful meadows at the base of the mountain, up again, and then we turned a corner and we were on the beach! Running into one woman, we asked about the falls and she said the tide was not low enough to get all the way, unless you were willing to get smashed by waves against the rocks. We decided to continue and pause for some food in hopes the tide would lower further.
We walked down to a lovely beachside campground, and then moved on to the beach itself. After pausing to enjoy some well-deserved snacks (involving me very sadly dropping half of my RX bar in the sand… I tried to continue eating it but the grittiness was a little to much, so it was set aside), we continued walking. One of the funny things about beaches, I think, is that the distance always looks a lot less than it actually is. We could see the falls in the distance down the beach, and they did not look too far (deceiving). Along the way, we ran into several others on their way back. One pair told us good luck, but said you couldn’t quite reach the falls right now.
We continued. I had looked at tide tables before we left, and our timing put us right about midway between high and low tide, which I was hoping would be enough. Julia and I continued, and our beach space slowly shrunk down to a narrow strip. Then we were running around the narrower strips of beach to spots higher up, timing our runs with the waves. Then we were running from one rocky outcropping to the next between waves. We got to a more difficult spot to cross and paused. We were so close! The waves were variable in size, but overall seemed small enough that we could get across. We went for it. Aaand were rewarded with a massive wave. More or less pinned (that sounds worse than it was, but I’ll go with it) against the rocks, this rather large wave soaked me from about the thighs down and sprinkled my back. Julia, daring gal, tried to continue a little further, and ended up briefly stranded on a rock, surrounded by water on all sides, as a sizable wave crashed against her rock and sprayed around her. She retreated back to me. After waiting through a few more significantly sized waves, we decided we should maybe turn around.
Jittery from adrenaline, and slightly disappointed, we squelched back in our wet shoes. As it turns out, I think it truly needs to be AT low tide in order to get all the way to the falls. Thankfully, the trail as a whole was so beautiful we were hardly disappointed – and we did get to see the falls, just not as close as we might have liked. All in all, we still declared it an enormously beautiful and successful hike! And considering it’s free, I’m quite certain a return to Point Reyes is in my future.