Sunday, July 3, 2011

Inverness & Tomales Bay - Shell Beach to Pebble Beach - 7-3-11

Jellyfish in Tomales Bay as viewed from Pebble Beach

          After running a few errands in Bolinas Sarah and I drove to Inverness where we met up with a couple of our close friends from San Diego Elloitt and Spar. I was amazed at how much traffic there was on Sir Francis Drake. Being 4th of July weekend I expected crowds, but this was as busy as I’ve ever seen Inverness and Point Reyes. We caravanned to the parking lot at Shell Beach where we found it completely full and even overflowing. We managed to nab two spots a little further up the road without too much trouble.
          The four of us headed down to Shell Beach where we were met by the masses. I was quite astonished by the sheer number of people sprawled out along the beach. There was hardly a place to relax.
A few Ospreys soared overhead, occasionally letting out their distinct cries.
          We had already planned on going for a hike so we took a short trail to the next beach where it seemed to be more crowded than the first.
          From the second beach we took the Johnstone Trail which starts as a faint trail near an outhouse but soon opens up to a nice singletrack. Within a few footsteps the noise from the beach dissipated and we had the trail to ourselves. We only did run into a handful of people along the entire trail.
          We passed beneath a giant Osprey nest and saw a few bird heads poking out.
          The trail climbs up a few gradual switchbacks and continues to gain elevation until eventually topping out near Pierce Pt. Road. As the trail tops out it also becomes overgrown with the late season grasses and poison oak. There are a couple of spur trails that lead out to the road itself but we continued onward until we reached a junction with the Jepson Trail about 2.6 miles from the Shell Beach. We continued on the Johnstone trail and soon crossed a private road where we took a short rest.
          The trail heads downhill from there snaking in and out of lush vegetation and through several boggy areas which took time to navigate without getting muddy. I didn’t seem to mind, but everyone else was wearing sandals and didn’t want to get their toes funky. While hiking along Spar noticed a caterpillar which we stopped to observe for a moment.


          A little over a mile from our rest at the private road and we arrived at Pebble Beach. Being just a half mile from a parking lot and Hearts Desire Beach there were a handful of people enjoying the sandy stretch, however, it was desolate compared to what we experienced at Shell Beach.
          We took a seat in the sand and enjoyed the views and the sunshine. It was quite warm in fact and eventually we all went wading in Tomales Bay. A problematic issue was that there were literally dozens of jellyfish floating towards shore and they were mighty hard to avoid. The strange thing was that they all seemed to propel themselves toward the shore willfully, then turn over and die. At least I’m assuming they are dying. It makes me want to do some research. I even talked with a local back at the parking lot when the hike was done and she always remembers an abundance of jellyfish in the area.

Upright Jellyfish

(One of Many)Upside Down Jellyfish

          Elliott was brave enough to take a dip and fully submerge himself only after we thoroughly scouted the immediate vicinity for any jellies.

Tomales Bay from Pebble Beach

          With the hike taking a little longer than expected we decided that Elliott and I would hike/jog back to the car and drive back to pick up the girls. Sarah and Spar would walk to Hearts Desire Beach and then up the Jepson Trail about a mile to a pullout at Pierce Point Rd. where we would pick them up.
          Elliott and I made it back to the car and met up with the ladies in just about an hour which both they and ourselves were quite proud of.
          It was a great opportunity to get out in nature with great people. Those are the opportunities we cannot miss out on!

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