On Thursday morning, I headed over to S' house and he, SS & I had breakfast together. Then, after packing up our things, we started our drive to Point Reyes.
It's not a very long trip. I clocked it coming back to about an hour and a half. But we ran into some traffic due to an accident on the Richmond Bridge. Still, it was all pretty non-eventful. We stopped and had lunch before heading to the visitors center to pick up our permit and, we decided, a fire permit to have a beach fire.
Then it was off to the trailhead and time to put the packs on. The hike was so much easier than the practice hike. There was little change in elevation and the trail was wide and smooth. It went really quickly and just as I was starting to get tired, we got to camp.
We had a good campsite and put the food into the food box (to protect it from raccoons), then headed down to the bathroom. S had to return to the camp and found a raccoon digging through his day pack, which he'd left out because it was food free. Still, the raccoon was determined to examine it.
We went to bed as soon as it was dark. It was cold, but once I got zipped into my sleeping bag all was well. The camp was right near the ocean, so we could hear the sound of the waves crashing all through the night.
The next morning we were up before dawn to start the hike down the beach. We were heading out to reach Secret Beach which is only accessible at minus low tides...and as the ocean was super calm, it was perfect conditions for our plan. It was a lovely morning and we saw lots of birds. There were wildflowers clinging to the cliffs and creeks and waterfalls coming through toward the ocean.
There are a couple of places where you have to climb down the rock, the climb back up it on the return. So I actually did my first rock climb on the beach that morning, scaling about a 7 foot promotory. It was super easy and S demonstrated before I had to do it, then climbed down again to be below me if I needed any help.
Since the tide was so low we got to see all the sea creatures that are in the tidal areas...sea anemones, starfish (who come in a wide array of colors), lots of shell fish, shell crabs, sea grass and kelp. It was very cool. The cliffs had lovely layers that showed the effects of being in a geologically active area as they were sometimes perpendicular to the beach, sometimes parallel and sometimes wavy.
At the end of the hike out we hit a beach that was pebbly...that was the most challenging to walk on because it just was not solid footing. On the way back we explored some caves and enjoyed the waterfalls and several of the rock formations.
At the end of the hike back in (we'd been out on the beach for about 5 hours at this point) my thighs and butt just hurt. It is a lot of work walking on the sand, and by the time we got back, I just wanted to eat, then sleep.
We spent most of the day just resting then went back out to the beach that night for a fire. It was fun building the fire and watching it, but the best part of that experience was after the fire was out. We were standing at the edge of the water and as the waves came in, they would leave little sparks of phosphorescent light on the beach. I named them sea fireflies.
I slept like a baby that night. We hiked out the next morning. It was a more challenging experience because my muscles were sore, but we still made good time. We got to the trailhead ahead of SS who soon arrived with a lovely lunch and juice and fresh fruit (freeze dried food sucks!).
Our adventure was not yet at an end. We did a lot of site-seeing. We had signed up to get an evening tour of the lighthouse, but the winds were 40+ miles an hour, so they cancelled it. Instead we stood on the observation deck above the lighthouse and leaned into the wind letting it support our weight as we looked out at the ocean below.
We had a great room with a kitchenette, a hot shower, and a beautiful view. It was a wonderful restful experience to sleep in, have breakfast (that SS had made) in the room, then leave when we wanted. We went into Point Reyes Station to "forage" for lunch. We got beautiful bread and cheese and fresh fruit, then took a docent led tour back at the Bear Valley Visitor's Center of the reconstructed Miwok village.
I don't think that I will ever love camping, but I have to admit that I'm really glad that I went and got to see the really magical things that I did see. I had a really good time.