POINT LOBOS 3X February 10, 2004

Lucky to get a carpool together for this favorite photography activity, I met my hiking pal to motor over to Highway 101, then Highway 1. We wished to explore a bit, visiting the Carmel Mission, one of the best preserved and restored structures of Early California.

Driving over to Point Lobos State Preserve, we paid the $5 entry fee. Parking at the main parking area near the Cypress Grove, we began our perimeter hike at about12:30 p.m., sauntering south along the coastline. We often ambled down to the shoreline, with tidal pools and plenty of sealife to view. I saw small crabs, sea anemones, and mussels, to speak of some. I was surprised at the apparent comeback of the sea otters. While they were usually far away, my pal had binoculars to discern heads from seaweed. I'd say as many as 50 otters floated about in one cove, a big increase from the few I'd seen on other trips.

I enjoyed snapping photos of the waves and coves. The blue waters were so clear. This was a bit new for me, never having hiked this far south in the Preserve. We took some of the side trails, and saw many a fine beach. Hiking along the preserve boundary, some fine homes were seen. One giant rock mansion led me to surmise who lived there.

Our hike went inland, through the trees, to pass the entrance station. I sipped water from a faucet, not having brought a canteen. Then we came to Whalers Cove, and hiked a bit to the east. In spring, these fields are full of golden poppies. I had spotted two of the State flowers--early bloomers. We both saw some deer. And there were many sea lions basking on rocks and beaches.

We made a short visit to the museum. The sun was getting low, so we were too late for the dramatic photo ops of the deep blue coves on the north side. The North Shore Trail was the most beautiful sea coast hike I'd ever done. Much was now in shadow.

The park closes at 5 p.m., so we rushed along. We took the few minutes we had left to go out to the cypress grove. Monterey Cypress grows naturally only here and at one other locale. I wished a nice shot of the red moss that covers the branches, but I was too rushed to get a good shot.

I used up some Kodachrome, then we came back to our car. With only ten minutes before closing, we motored out of the Preserve, just in time.

There is a fish market outside of Carmel, and we made a short stop. Few of these still operate, with one near my residence long out of business. Normally, a trip out here demands the sampling of fine seafood, but with our dieting and frugality, we passed on that.

Our drive back to the Central Valley went fine.

We walked some 6 miles with maybe a few hundred feet of gain. I shot over 200 MB worth of photos, with a few movie clips of the waves. The overhead light was harsh, and with no clouds, fog, or diffuse light, these I'll consider mostly record shots.

We saw no ticks or other pests. The poison oak has leafed. The trail was muddy in only a very few, small, spots, easily hiked around. Some other flowers were coming out, and I feel now I have made it through another winter! A vest and T made for my top wear the whole hike, with EW bottoms fine enough under my jeans. My pal's sneakers did just fine.