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(My hiking and camping adventures in Northern California.)

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Point Reyes: Sculptured Beach

20070116 Sculptured Beach

First off, let's address the name. I think it should be Sculpted Beach or Sculpture Beach, but it's not. It's Sculptured Beach.

I chose this destination as it is supposed to be one of the better beaches in Point Reyes National Seashore for tidal pools. Most of my hiking books have very little on Point Reyes National Seashore. In fact, Hiking in Northern California by Ron Adkinson has lots of hikes in Southern California, but none in Point Reyes National Seashore. So I just look at the trail map and plan my own route. I wanted to do as much of a loop as possible, to see more territory. As always when planning to hike at Point Reyes, I checked the tides to time things right at

My friend Erik joined me on this hike, and we started at the Laguna trail head, just past the hostel and education center, off of Limantour Road. There was nothing too dramatic about this first portion of trail, but I did see some sort of animal up ahead that I thought might be a dog accompanying another hiker. But it was a wild animal, as we never saw any people on the path. I was ahead of Erik, and unfortunately he didn't see it. I think he would have known what it was, but I'm still new to hiking.

This trail joins up with a fire road, which is never too exciting to hike on. Then it goes down to Coast Camp, where there are pit toilets if you need them, and even if you don't. They're just there.

We then followed the Coastal Trail to the short spur for Sculptured Beach. I recall Erik taking note of all the burnt trees near the junction with the Woodward Valley Trail, which I would hike a little later. That's a result of the 1995 Vision Fire. I also remember some women hiking the opposite direction from us, one of whom told us there was a Douglas iris around the corner. Being that it was the middle of January, that was news. When I was back to the park on April 1, there were hundreds of Douglas irises on my short hike.

20070116 The Hike's Destination

At the end of the trail to Sculptured Beach, there is a stairway down to the beach itself. The first thing we noticed were some sanderlings, scurrying into the water, and then scurrying right back out. I recorded a video with my camera of them in action. It was the first time I had used that function on my camera, so I made it really short, as I was worried about how much memory it would eat up. But I worried for nothing, and now wish I had shot a longer video.

20070116 Diving In

20070116 Scurrying Out

Sanderlings from tspauld on Vimeo

Then the fun of exploring the tidal pools began. Erik is from Minnesota, and I'm from Montana, so tidal pools are certainly an exotic delight for us.

20070116 Tidal Pool

20070116 Sea Stars

There was an interesting area to the south, with some nice natural arch formations. But to get down there, we would have to climb down a rock formation, and I wasn't sure it would be possible to get back up. But Erik was all in favor of it. I let him go down first.

20070116 Arch at Sculptured Beach

It seemed there were lots of round globs of sand stuck all over the place, until I looked more closely at them, and realized they were living creatures. Now I know that they are just anemones closed up when the water level drops low enough to expose them to air. But neither Erik or I had noticed them at first.

20070116 Anemones

We were stopped by another rock formation with an opening in it. Erik wanted to crawl through it, but I pointed out that lining it were mussels everywhere. I'm sure our weight would have crushed many of the shells, and we didn't want to do that. So we headed back instead.

20070116 The next beach over

Before making the effort to try and get up at the same point we had come down to this stretch of beach, we carefully searched the rock formation for an easier point. We found one that might have been difficult to come down, but was really easy to go up. I quickly climbed right up, and Erik followed me.

20070116 Limantour Beach

Rather than take the Sculptured Beach spur back to the Coastal Trail, we headed north up the beach to the access point to the beach from Coast Camp. From Coast Camp, we took Coast Trail north. At that point, Erik spotted deer, some of which appeared to be white. We were wondering if there were albino deer. I looked it up when I got home, and they are nonnative fallow deer that were introduced to the area. We've both seen them many times since, but it was an odd discovery.

The Coast Trail meets up with the road by the hostel and education center, passing through a nice birch forest where there were plenty of black-tailed deer. Unfortunately, it was so foggy and overcast that point that it was too dark to get a good hand-held shot with full zoom. The trail ends at the road near the hostel and education center, and we took a short jaunt on the road back to the parking lot.

We stopped in Vacaville on the way back to gas up, and I noticed the vintage neon sign for Pietro's Pizza was lit, so I had to get a shot of that. Unfortunately, my camera couldn't focus on it (which I don't understand, as I shoot neon all the time), so I borrowed Erik's camera to get a shot:

20070116 Pietro's #1

Hike Report

Date: 16 January 2007
Approximate distance: 8 miles
Trail head: Laguna
Map: South District Trail Map

1 comment:

Bud said...

Tidal pools are an exotic delight for me too, and I have lived in California my whole life. Unfortunately, I have not explored my home state as much as I'd like. Perhaps someday...

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