Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pt Reyes Backpacking (June 2011)

JY organized a 3 day, 2 night backpacking trip to Pt Reyes, a wonderful area about 30 minutes from my house. Also joining us would be our coworker NJ.

We all left after work on friday. The first day of hiking would be one of the steepest, but not very long. We then took the Mt Wittenberg trail down to the Sky campsite. I've done the Wittenberg trail many times before, but this was my first time backpacking in Pt Reyes. Once we set up camp and had some dinner, NJ realized he forgot his meals at home and only had snack food. He also forgot his boots and had to wear his sneakers he had on at work. Not a good start. We had some fog roll in and it was a nice cool evening. The campsite is deep in the groundcover, so no views of the ocean just down the hill from us.

View towards the ocean as we approached our campsite.

Setting up our tents at the Sky campsite. Not much of a view.
The next morning we packed up our gear and headed back to the Sky trail and worked our way towards the Woodward Valley Trail. I've always enjoyed the Sky Trail... Even in during the height of summer when we haven't had rain in 4 months straight, the Sky Trail is always cool and damp. Every evening and morning the fog rolls in off the ocean and condenses in the tree canopy and creates a sort of rainforest.

Sky Trail.

Sky Trail

I've hiked the Wittenberg and Sky trail numerous times as day hikes and I knew them quite well, but the next day and half's trails would be new to me. From the Sky Trail we took the Woodward Valley trail down towards the ocean. We would pass areas damaged by the Vision fire and leave the forest for grassy regions along the coast.

Looking north while descending the Woodward Valley Trail.

Looking south from near the end of the Woodward Valley Trail.

We reached the Coastal Trail in good time and headed south. This section is more barren and wind-swept, but provides many nice vistas of the Pacific Ocean. We eventually crossed where the Sky Trail meets the Coastal Trail and shortly after we reached the Bear Valley Trail. This a major trail and it sees a lot of traffic. After seeing  almost no people for a day, we found ourselves amongst crowds of day hikers. We walked out to Arch Rock and took a break and had some snacks for lunch. While waiting, JY and I spotted one of the campers that was at Rock Creek the previous week with us. Small world again! She was doing a one day 30+ mile hike down the length of Pt Reyes. The Bear Valley trail is a straight shot back to the parking lot, so NJ decided to head home since he was low on food and his feet were blistering from bringing the wrong shoes. The rest of the hike would be just JY and myself.

Various flowers at the cliff edge near Arch Rock. 

View from Arch Rock.

JY and I soon got back on the Coastal Trail heading south and it soon started climbing in altitude and I was tiring a touch. I was definitely still a bit out of shape. This section of the Coastal Trail had mixed vegetation and we were crossing in and out of scrub and forested areas. After a few more miles we came to a cliff edge and you could see down to where the campground was. We originally were going to camp at the Glen campsite, but when we started on Friday, we found out there was a cancellation at the Wildcat Camp. The Wildcat Camp is near the ocean and was a fun camp to stay at. We still had to hike about a mile down a dirt access road before we could finally take a break and set up camp.

Some Foxglove on the Coastal Trail.

Our first view of Wildcat Camp. About another mile or so to go.

Our campsite is set up and now it's time to relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

After camp was set up, JY went exploring down the coast to see if he could get to Alamere Falls. I relaxed at camp reading my book and soon a pair of Quail showed up and one even hopped up on the picnic table next me. Some mole like creature was also busy digging holes and throwing dirt everywhere. JY soon returned as the tides had blocked the beach access to Alamere Falls. As evening approached we walked to the coast to watch the sunset over the Pacific.

Quail in our campsite.


The next morning it was time to head home. First we had to slog back up the access road to the Coastal Trail. Instead of following the Coastal Trail all the way back to the Bear Valley trail, we went a mile or so until we reached the Glen Trail and followed it to a point half way along the Bear Valley Trail. The Glen trail was really cool and tons of green plants. I really enjoyed this section and I think I'm going to do some day hikes here in the future. Once we got to Bear Valley trail is was a straight shot back to the car. My knees were bothering me again and I developed a few more blisters. We were at our cars by noon and it was time to head home and grab a shower and a hot meal.

Following JY on the Glen Trail

Morning dew on the Glen Trail.

Views from Glen Trail as we approached the Bear Valley Trail.

More photos of the trip on Smugmug

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