Hiking one more time on the Pacific
June 20, 2003
The snow is melting rapidly, as anyone can see by looking west. So it’s just about time to start heading for Horse Thief Canyon or Dead Man’s Creek in the Sierra.
But first one more hike among the greenery of the Pacific Coast, this time to the A-o Nuevo State Reserve off Highway 1 a few miles south of Santa Cruz.
This is not a demanding trek, only about 3 miles round trip. But it was just right for trying out my expensive custom-made knee brace. The brace didn’t work for skiing as its function was to keep the knee aligned rather than protect it, and in the process it counteracted the cants I had in my bindings to correct my slight bowlegs.
This time I followed the directions for locking it on carefully, and for the first part of the hike it worked well. But later …
Anyhow, this is a fine hike if you have youngsters because at the end of the trail and along the way you get a nifty close-up view of massive elephant seals basking in the sun or playfully battling.
You need a permit to make the hike, but you can pick that up at the gatehouse trailhead and exhibit shelter parking area. There is a modest fee. Hours for getting a permit are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
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The winds are strong here and seem to blow on and on. For some a windbreaker may be needed, but it was warm enough for me to go in shorts and T-shirt.
The trail is in fine shape, although loose sand makes for plodding along part of the trail. From the parking lot the best trail is the Point Trail which passes above a large fresh water pond. From there one follows the trail in a long, meandering sweep to the South Point viewing area. Along the way you’ll find several billboards describing the natural elements as well as the remains of an old coastal steamer which wrecked at the South Point.
Brilliant yellow and purple flowers line the trail, some in great blankets off among the sand dunes. At South Point docents are on hand to discuss the elephant seals. The big beasts are just 25 or so feet off from the point. Most are sleeping or throwing sand over themselves to keep warm.
Northern elephants seals come ashore during the spring and summer months to shed outer layers of skin and fur. The molting process takes several weeks.
Thud not eat or drink during their molt, living off fat reserves. Female and juvenile seals molt April through May, young males May through June and older males July through August. So there’s a long window of opportunity to observe the sleek, torpedo-shaped animals.
Visitors are warned to stay at least 25 feet away from elephant seals as they can become disturbed. No collection of anything is allowed, no dogs, smoking or picnicking except at the Exhibit shelter. There ares sanitary facilities.
On the way back a slight detour along the pond gives one a view of the many surfers who cluster around the point to catch breakers. And more seals stretched out on the beach.
The views of the rolling Pacific here are marvelous. Off from South Point a mile or so is the Nuevo Island, at one time a base for Coast Guard staffers and a lighthouse site. Modern technology has obviated the need for the lighthouse and the buildings are abandoned. Now the seals are the only inhabitants — no humans allowed.
From December through March the elephant seals come ashore to give birth. The wildlife protection area is open via guided walks only.
For information call (650) 879-2025, for recorded information try (650) 879-0227 or http://www.anonuevo.org.
Up here in the Sierra Nevada it’s easy to forget that there’s that wonderful sea out there. This is a fine place to remind one of it.
Oh, yeah, the knee brace. Needs work. Stuck a handkerchief under the knee halfway along the trail.
— Northstar will host its second annual Summer Kick-Off Party on Friday, June 20.
The party will be held at Northstar’s Martis Valley Grille from 4 to 7 p.m. and will include a DJ on the deck, food and drink specials and the Ice Carved Shot Slide. Draft beers, coronas, margaritas and shot slides will be sold for just $3.
Northstar’s PGA head professional Graham Sampson will be on hand giving free driving range lessons. After getting a few tips from the pro, guests can try their luck at putting and driving accuracy games for great prizes.
The party is free and all ages are invited. Call (530) 562-2460 or log onto http://www.northstarattahoe.com.
— Three days of big-kid toys and Bavarian festivities are a reason to visit Squaw Valley next weekend when BMW Motorcycles celebrates its 80th anniversary Friday, June 27-29. Officially-titled the “BMW Motorrad 80th Anniversary Rally,” the celebration of 80 years of motorcycling excellence, will include a Bavarian Village, all-day and evening entertainment, and a Bavarian beer garden complete with dancers, music and vintage motorcycle displays.
Food, beverage and motorcycle-related vendors, as well as after-market displays, and a bike wash for charity will round out the venue.
Additional events include the Mobile Tradition and Vintage Motorcycle Exhibition, motorcycle stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy, GPS instruction and “Best of World Travel” by Helge Pedersen, and off-road rider training and fire-side chat with Jimmy and Heather Lewis. On stage entertainment showcases the World’s Most Dangerous Bavarian Band, Those Darn Accordions and the Garage Band.
Tickets are $50 for the weekend and include all activities as well as dinner Saturday night. For event information and lodging packages, go to http://www.bmwmotorradusa.com or http://www.bmwmotorcycles.com.
Sam Bauman is the Nevada Appeal Diversions Editor.