Tag Archive: Point Reyes NS

The Point Reyes Hostel is Great for Families

After a long day of exploring the beaches, forests and grasslands of Point Reyes National Seashore, where does a family stay?

In the heart of this 70,000-acre parkland, is the Point Reyes Hostel. The main hostel is located in a converted ranch house, but recently there is a new addition, the “green building.” The green building was constructed to LEED Silver standards so it maximizes water savings, is energy efficient and constructed with materials that support human and environmental health.

I found the new facilities to be clean, roomy and most of all quiet. Our family room had two bunk beds and a larger twin bed on the lower level, but what everyone liked most was the window, which could be opened to allow copious amounts of fresh coastal air inside. The communal kitchen was well stocked with cooking items and the shared bath facilities were well maintained.

Adjacent to the kitchen area is a sizable balcony for sitting outside and having a meal. If you sit outside the entertainment can include a covey of quail running below, or even a deer munching some grass nearby.

Depending on the time of year you can expect sun or rain, but there is always some amount of overcast that rolls in from the ocean. The seashore is located about an hour north of San Francisco, California.

To learn more about the Point Reyes Hostel visit:
http://norcalhostels.org/reyes/

A Discovery of 55 Banana Slugs in 70 feet at Point Reyes

blog-20120827-img1Banana Slugs are really cool. They can be up to 9 inches in length and are recognizable by their bright yellow color. The slugs help to turn old leaves and plants into soil; they are “good-guys” in the forest. It is possible to see several on a day hike, but on this hike in the Point Reyes National Seashore, located in California, my family encountered 55 individuals in just seventy feet of trail! What a rare treat!

Our hike began at the Point Reyes Hostel and continued down a gentle trail to the coast. In a low section, moisture was being funneled off the hill and over the trail into a marshy area. This is when we saw a banana slug, then another and then one about every foot and a half. The slugs were everywhere. Some were fully-grown; others were just a couple of inches in length. Two-thirds of the slugs were pointed basically the same direction, to the moist area just over the trail.

I am not sure if this grouping was because of the water, or a food source, but it was a very unusual sight to come across.

That afternoon, while returning from the beach, I passed the same area. Now, just a handful of slugs could be seen, the rest has disappeared into the undergrowth.

A Quick Explore of the Tule Elk Reserve at Point Reyes

The Point Reyes National Seashore in northern California is a dramatic landscape sculpted by powerful tectonic forces, fierce winds, and the constant bombardment of ocean waves. It is also a gentle place with rolling hills, drifting fog and tranquil bays. This is a great geography for families to explore and enjoy a weekend away from the hustle and bustle. It is also a great place to discover a success story, the return of the majestic tule elk.

California was once home to large populations of elk, but after the 1849 Gold Rush these populations were decimated and within ten years the elk had disappeared from the land. Fortunately, a very small population (possibly fewer than 10 individuals at the lowest level) survived in a remote area of central California. Eventually, a rancher in the area protected the elk with a refuge on his ranch and later land management groups relocated small bands of elk to other areas of the state, but with limited success. In 1978 a handful of elk were relocated to the Tomales Point region of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Today, the elk at Point Reyes number over 400 and enjoy over 2,600 acres of land to roam.

During my family’s visit, we started on a weekend day in January. The temperature was a chilly 48 degrees and the wind blowing off the Pacific Ocean was heralding a storm that would roll in that night. We wore multiple layers of clothing and some heavy knit hats to cover our ears to shield us from the cool air. Some might be uncomfortable here; but the experience of breathing clean air, seeing the open sea and the expansive land uncluttered by structures provided ample warmth for something deep and primal within our souls.

We walked up the great peninsula; along with a trail that is roughly 5 miles from our starting point to lands end. Tomales Point is surrounded by the mighty Pacific Ocean to the north and west while the tranquil Tomales Bay is visible to the east. It is a curious geography formed by the San Andreas Fault. Here we were witness to the results of two gigantic tectonic plates of the earth grinding together; the peninsula where we walked was part of the Pacific plate while across the mile-wide bay lay the plate of North America.

After thirty minutes we saw them, a small band of elk. Several sentinels watched us while the majority munched upon shoots of grass. Further beyond we saw more elk and over the next rise even more. On our return walk we saw another band, but this time we saw the bulls with their noticeable and very intimidating antlers. As with all the elk, we gave them plenty of room. For the rest of the day, we spotted the elk along various rises on the trail or as dots on the sides of the hills.

We were glad to have seen these creatures upon such an inspiring marriage of land and sea. We are wealthier because of the experience. As we left we said a ‘thank you’ to the people who over the decades worked hard so others could enjoy such a majestic sight and appreciate a success story.

To explore more:
http://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm
http://www.nps.gov/pore/naturescience/tule_elk.htm

Backpacking Independence in Point Reyes National Seashore

Celebrate the 4th of July, Independence weekend at Point Reyes National Seashore. This national park is an explorer’s paradise with miles of unspoiled beaches, enticing trails, and beautiful mountains. Fireworks are not allowed, though Mother Nature always provides a spectacular natural attractions show. Local sights include Alamere Falls, a 40-foot fall that plunges onto the beach; and hiking to Arch Rock, a beautiful hike overlooking the ocean with views to Drakes Estero, Drakes Beach and the northern section of Point Reyes.

The inbound hike on Saturday is from the Bear Valley Visitors Center to Wildcat Camp. The hike is 6.3 miles one way and 3-4 hours in duration. Some of the trails are steep and include loose rock. Sunday is reserved for your own exploration or to enjoy the beach. Meet at the Bear Valley Visitors Center on Saturday, 10:00 am, July 3rd to hike to the campsite. Reservations are required.

ITINERARY
Saturday, July 3, 1999
Arrive at the Bear Valley Visitors Center by 10:00 am. Please allow for a two-hour drive from the south bay area. You will need to register your vehicle with the Ranger for overnight parking. Depart on the trail BY 10:30 am. Our hike route includes the forested Bear Valley Trail, through Divide Meadow. This is an easy hike with rolling hills and light grades. Continuing on Glen Trail the trail climbs upward and we pass through forests, chaparral and arrive on the Coast Trail overlooking the Pacific. The trail becomes rocky with a steep grade. The last three-quarter mile is downhill to the grassy field of Wildcat Camp. The day is spent exploring the local area, or hiking down the beach to Alamere Falls and preparing for a beach fire (if fire danger is not extreme) that evening.

Sunday, July 4, 1999
Sunday is free-form. You may wish to explore the beach or enjoy a day in the sun. For the more energetic we will explore some of the local freshwater lakes and trails. The area has plenty to experience and appreciate. A beach fire in the evening if permitted by the level of fire danger.

Monday, July 5, 1999
In the morning we eat a good breakfast and take a walk on the beach. We return to pack up and backtrack our steps to the Bear Valley Visitors Center. We arrive with plenty of time left in the day to return home and beat the holiday traffic. Small side-trips around the Visitor’s Center include the quarter mile Earthquake Trail located on the San Andreas Fault and a reconstructed Miwok Village.

This is a hands-on trip into Point Reyes. We hike, camp, explore and experience this dramatic and sometimes haunting land. Participants need to bring their own gear and sense of adventure. Sunday is free-form: you are welcome to join us in exploring the trails, relax on the beach or explore on your own. In the evenings (if fire danger allows us) we gather drift wood and enjoy a beach fire.

Organization: GlyphGuy Adventure Travel
Dates: July 3-5, 1999
Trip leader: Mark Hougardy
Participants: 6