Friday, February 9, 2007

North Coast - January 2007

January 2007
Gazos Creek – Table Rock, Ano Nuevo
8 miles, no elevation gain to speak of
Josephine, Graciela, Tara, Jane, Julie

The weather was iffy for this hike – it was raining at 4:30 a.m. that morning. I personally love to hike in the rain and knew at least Jane would come, even if it was raining. There were phone calls the night before talking about other possible destinations or cancelling the hike. In the morning we decided to go for it.

We gathered at Safeway and then moved the cars to Western Drive. Everyone squeezed into my Honda, because I wanted to drive and no one else did – and I didn’t want to move all my stuff out of the car. It was a tight fit with the five of us in the car, but the company was good. In retrospect, we should have taken two cars since folks were on different time frames.

When we got to Gazos Creek parking area there were just a few cars in the lot. We got bundled up and prepared for rain, even though the sky kept getting clearer and clearer. We started down to the beach. There was a stream crossing that we cobbled together with logs. The hike starts with a beach walk. Gazos beach is wide and open.

I knew the bluff trail came off the side somewhere, so we left the beach and did a bit of bushwhacking along a deer trail. Eventually, we saw white poles, which we hoped were trail markers rather than “restricted area” poles.

We arrived at Franklin Point where there was a platform and bench with a beautiful view. Franklin Point is named after a clipper ship that went down there in the 1800s. The trail was clearly marked from this point forward.

It had turned into a beautiful day. We stopped at a bluff and Jane spotted whales. Jo brought out the binoculars, but they were close enough to see without them. Our timing was perfect, since we didn’t see whales for the rest of the trip.

Our next exciting adventure was sneaking by two elephant seals on a very small beach. Elephant Seals can move very fast when they want to and can be aggressive. Jane went first, but then the rest of us followed Josephine up a brushy “not-quite-a-trail”. Jane was waiting on the other side, not realizing until too late that the rest of us had detoured off. The elephant seals hadn’t even opened an eye.

We lunched in the sunshine on a bluff by a stand of cypress trees. Several had been cut down and others burned. It was a gorgeous day. We were slightly pushed for time, so we headed back briskly.

Graciela found all sorts of beautiful heart shaped rocks which seemed a specialty at this beach. We loaded back into my car and as we headed back into Santa Cruz. The horizon was a sea of black clouds. When we reached the cars it started raining. Our timing had been perfect. We had great weather for the whole hike. Jo, Jane and I celebrated with Bloody Marys at the Watering Hole – a dive bar on Mission Street. It was a glorious day.

Lessons Learned: A day of stolen sunshine is all the sweeter. Be prepared for poor conditions, but expect the best.

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