Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gerstle Cove - Salt Point State Park - Day 2 - 2/18/12

          I awoke before dawn to a fogged in sky and figured sunrise wouldn't be very interesting so I went back to sleep. When I lifted my head up next and looked out of the van window, the sky was glowing pink. I quickly got some warm clothes on, grabbed my camera and made a break for the coast. I set off down a trail that leaves from near site #10 and travels about a quarter mile through a thick pine forest and out onto a dirt road leading to the picnic area at Gerstle Cove. It was fairly dark under the pine trees as I charged at a full sprint to catch the fading colors. By the time I reached the cliffs edge at Gerstle Cove most of the color had disappeared from the sky.

Gerstle Cove Sunrise at Salt Point State Park

Gerstle Cove Sunrise

          Scaling the intricate rock formations throughout the sandstone was fascinating and eventually I just sat on the edge of the cliff to soak in the calm saline air.
          Back at camp we had an extremely slow and relaxing morning observing various birds. A Northern Flicker pecked away at the grass searching for insects and beetles as a Varied Thrush scampered nearby. A fallen pine at the edge of camp hosted what looked to be a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers.

Varied Thrush

          Eventually we got our itch to go hiking and set off down the path to Gerstle Cove and from there we continued south along a well defined trail traversing the prairie bluffs above the sea. At a certain point we veered off trail toward the edge of the ocean where we followed the contours of the cliffs, admiring every nook and cranny, and walking out onto each overlook.


          As is common along the coast the wind was whipping steadily as we slowly pondered along. We reached South Gerstle Point and walked a little further before settling on a rare windless area nestled amongst nature's extravagant masonry where we had lunch.

Tafoni Rocks!

          Northbound we walked back along the trail to the Gerstle Cove Picnic area, spotting some Harbor Seals sunning on some rocks, and then followed the bluffs toward the visitor center.

Sunning Seals

          The trail got a bit hard to follow at some points as things have become overgrown but we soon made it to the visitor center above Gerstle Cove. From there we contemplated hiking out onto the Salt Point Trail but it was fairly crowded and we were feeling lazy and so returned to camp via a different short but steep unnamed spur trail.
          We enjoyed the quiet late afternoon atmosphere which I must say I wasn't expecting. I always envision a large RV having pulled up next door and running a generator at all hours. When evening came and sunset was upon us, I took off again for South Gerstle Point to enjoy twilight and take some photos. I had seen some nice formations on our hike earlier that I hoped to find again.
          At a slight jog I was at Gerstle Point in roughly 15 minutes where I awaited sunset. As the tides change and waves pound the rocky cliffs, pools of water are left standing on the cliff tops. I was particularly taken by a circular pool with some type of vibrant green algae growing inside.

Very Cool Pool

          I found the "needle eye" rock formation that I had seen earlier just as the sun was reaching the horizon.

Needle Eye

          I worked my way around the tafoni as the rosy pink sky was quickly eaten up by a foggy haze.

Gerstle Point Sunset

Tafoni Sunset at Gerstle Point

South Gerstle Point Sunset

          After the show I walked back to camp barely able to discern my way without means of artificial light.

1 comment:

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