Last Sunday the Geek and I decided to drive down to Point Reyes National Seashore - it's such a beautiful gem right at our door step. Point Reyes is a peninsula in Marin County about 35 miles from our home, a beautiful drive along winding California Highway 1 with many stunning views along the way. To the east Point Reyes is bounded by the San Andreas Fault which caused the peninsula to move 21 feet to the north in the 1906 earthquake. The Point Reyes Peninsula is on the Pacific Plate while the rest of Marin County is on the North American Plate. There is an Earthquake Trail which describes the geology of that area.
We had planned to visit various places on the peninsula like the Cypress Tunnel in the image above. We also wanted to hike and had chosen to walk out to Chimney Rock at the very end of the peninsula.
We first went over to the Elephant Seal Overlook which is an easy walk of just a few minutes. Every year from about November to March elephant seals gather on Drakes Beach and spend the winter here. However, there were only about ten elephant seals here swimming in the water (and making quite some noise) whereas the harbor seals populated the beach. We enjoyed watching the pelicans who were busy catching fish in the water.
Finally we were on our way out to Chimney Rock.
It's a moderate hike along an often sandy trail over the cliffs. It was a surprisingly pleasant day at the ocean - sunny with blue skies, a breeze but not too windy and temperatures of about 65 F. Perfect for a hike at the coast. But as you can see in the image above, some clouds were already coming in. The weather in Point Reyes can be rather varied. While it is sunny and warm at one end, it can be foggy and cool at the other one. This is coastal Northern California for you.
We saw the old dock and life saving station in Drakes Bay. The latter used to be pretty busy because of the fast changing weather pattern and boats getting lost. On the open ocean side to the West there is a lighthouse that is currently under restoration. Before the lighthouse was established in 1870 (after a 15 years long dispute between the United States Lighthouse Board and the landowners over a fair price for the land) many ships ended up as wrecks at the treacherous coastline. This is what the coastline looks like - dramatic, fascinating and dangerous. In 2015 new fissures in the cliffs were discovered and consequently trails close to the cliffs' edge were closed - which doesn't prevent the ever
Almost at the end of the hike we turned around and took in the view from here. You can see the Pacific Ocean to the left and Drakes Bay to the right. You can also clearly see the trail we hiked along. This part of Point Reyes is an excellent location to watch whales - in the winter and early spring for the Grey Whale migration and with a bit of luck you can see Humpbacks all year round.
The view down from Chimney Rock was just as dramatic as the view back.
We sat on a bench in the sun, listened to the crashing of the waves against the cliffs and enjoyed watching the sparrows. The world felt very peaceful here.