Friday, October 10, 2008
Marina to Seaside
California Coastal Trail
Marina to Seaside
Jo, Tara, Julie
This section of the CCT involved another car drop off. We left Jo's car at the beach hotel in Seaside - then drove back to Marina in a rather circuitous route since I took the exit before Reservation Road. We made sure not to make this mistake on the way home.
It was a beautiful sunny day. It had been cold in the morning so our packs were heavy with shoes and extra clothing, that it turned out we didn't need. As always, better safe than sorry. What we should have put on was more sunscreen, because both Tara and I got sunburnt on this hike.
The waves were huge and breaking very close to the beach. The beach was angled and the sand soft which made for difficult walking conditions. I was disappointed I couldn't spend more time walking in the surf - but you had be extremely vigilant watching the waves. The rogue waves came on unexpectedly and waves which seemed big would peter out without reaching you. By the end of the hike we had all gotten wet - something I like to get over early in the hike.
This was a fairly deserted section of beach - similar to the Moss Landing to Marina section. There were no buildings and few people. I saw on the front page of the Sentinel that giant sea turtles had migrated to Monterey Bay so we had hoped to see one - but alas, we never did. We didn't see any wildlife in the water - though Jo at one point thought she saw a whale spout.
Birds were our main companions. Vultures, gulls, plovers and pelicans. We saw lots of animal corpses in various states of decay - nature in action. There was one Sea Lion skeleton with the skull exposed which I was tempted to try and take, but it was to stinky and still attached to the body. Interesting to get to see the teeth up close.
The soft sand made this a difficult hike. After doing so many miles of beach walking there is a natural rhythm you fall into. The landscape is constant and yet changing. You walk watching the waves. There was a surprising amount of trash on the beach, but it was too far to carry it. The most bizarre piece was a cat scratcher which was by a shopping cart in the middle of nowhere.
We came across a couple and stopped to chat with them. They had come from a new park that had been created but wasn't officially open yet. I asked them about the "enlisted officers club" which was a building our book said that we had to climb around. The woman said that it had been a beautiful building - but they had torn it down several years ago. This was valuable information - because we stopped looking for a building in the distance. On the Moss Landing hike we kept waiting for a river that wasn't there.
We stopped at 12:30 and had a short, pleasant lunch. It was hard to judge distance, so we stopped based on time. What can seem quite close takes quite a long while to reach. As we hiked we could see a Para sailor in the distance. He was on top of large sand dune, so we decided to stop and run down the sand dune several times. There is nothing like that sensation of flying down the dune. It takes so much effort to climb up and less than a minute to come sailing down. From the top of the dune you could see Highway One and the houses of Fort Ord in the distance. You felt so isolated on the beach but civilization was just a dune away.
In the distance we could see what must be the site of the officers club, since it seemed like the waves came up to the cliff and we couldn't get around it without climbing up. We put on our shoes for the climb up and came into a construction zone with all sorts of equipment and piles of rubble. There was a real estate sign for Ocean View property which seemed rather incongruous. We were of course ignoring many "No Trespassing" "Dangerous Edge" and "No Parking" signs as we made our way through this area. We cut through the sand dunes and were able to make our way back to the beach.
Now we could see a giant flag and our hotel in the distance. We were like horses headed for the stable and our pace picked up briskly. This last section was well populated, but our goal was to make it to the car and get out of the sand!
Although this hike was only 7 miles, it felt a lot further. I was glad we decided not to do the full 10 miles to the Aquarium. Tara and I had both neglected to put sunscreen on our faces and were reddening already, along with other odd spots.
We headed to the little dive bar in Moss Landing and I was excited about dancing on the pole. Unlike the last Saturday hike however - the bar was full of bikers which we found out is common on Sundays. What bike club should be there - but none other than our neighborhood club the Lompico Ghost Mountain Riders! A lot of the dollar bills that had been hanging from the ceiling were cleared off, so it didn't have the same cave like feeling.
The bar was packed with bikers, but we eventually all got seats. We got to meet some of our neighborhood Riders. Tara got on the email list of the Ghost Mountain Riders and I was invited to their clubhouse which is right down the street from my house. A great blues band started, so we danced (though the pole was blocked and I wasn't about to try it out with so many spectators). It was a great way to end the next-to-the-last-segment of the California Coastal Trail. Hiking and dancing two of things I love most in the world, done with dear friends.
Lessons Learned: Don't forget your sunscreen. You may have farther to go than you think. Always dance, you'll never regret it.