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TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

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TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Sun May 22, 2011 11:00 pm

Just returned from a great two-night trip into Point Reyes National Seashore. Weather was windy and a bit cool, but otherwise pleasant.

Day 1
We arrived at the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 9am on Friday. After grabbing our permit we headed up Bear Valley Trail toward Arch Rock. The trail is lush and green, opening up into a nice meadow 1.5 miles in. Large spruces (?) loom everywhere above and gnarly, moss-covered trees fill in the lower areas. Arch Rock offered some nice views of the coast and the beach area below had some small caves to explore. After a short break here we headed northwest toward Coast Camp, our destination for the night. Coast Trail was an easy hike and at Sculptured Beach we left the trail and followed the beach the rest of the way. Coast Camp was ok, Site 7 (the one we were randomly assigned) being the best in my opinion. After watching the sunset on the beach and two squandered leads in dominoes, I called it a night. (Mileage: ~8.5 miles)

Day 2
What was originally intended as an very easy 4-mile day up to Sky Camp, we decided to make into a 14-mile loop to check out the Estero Trail. We hoped to encounter a marine estuary teeming with coastal life. Our route was: Coast Camp>Laguna Trail>Walk road to Muddy Hollow Trail>Estero Trail>Glenbrook Trail>Muddy Hollow Road>Bayview Trail>Sky Trail>Sky Camp. While we did not see a teeming estuary, we did catch a glimpse of some Elk and experienced a real cross-section of the environments in the area. We started at the beach, hiked across wind-blown scrub-brush grasslands, and climbed into lush forests. It was a great choice and a good workout. Sky Camp has some very nice sites and some mediocre ones; I'd recommend site 10 as it has the best view as far as I could tell. (Mileage: ~14 miles)

Day 3
We awoke to some dew and condensation, but nothing too bad. The hike was an easy 3 miles downhill on the Meadow Trail. This trail takes you through some lush forests and opens up about halfway down into a gorgeous tree-ringed meadow. We took our time, checking out the flora and were back at the car by 11am. The weekend crowds became thicker as we neared the trailhead. We grabbed some burgers at the Pine Cone Cafe in Point Reyes Station. They did not disappoint. (Mileage: ~3 miles)

Overall, I really enjoyed this trip. It was a great early-season warm-up and afforded us a chance to test some meals and gear before we pack them into the Sierra. (Mountain House Buffalo Chicken = awesome.) While it didn't feel too much like roughing it with potable water and picnic tables at each campsite, I can see why it's been set up this way. Off-trail travel would not be pleasant nor wise and I did not see much flowing water that was easily accessible. We did see a good amount of ticks and there is poison oak everywhere. I'd highly recommend this for a one- or two-night excursion or a great place to introduce someone into backpacking.

I'll try to post some photos tomorrow. Right now this kid needs some sleep.

Edit: added photos
BearValleyTrail_trees.JPG
Trees off Bear Valley Trail

ArchRock.JPG
Arch Rock

CoastTrail.JPG
Coast Trail

BeachHiking.JPG
Beach Hiking

Sunset.JPG
Sunset

EsteroTrail.JPG
Estero Trail

MeadowTrail.JPG
Meadow Trail
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.



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Carne_DelMuerto
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Re: TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby maverick » Mon May 23, 2011 12:16 pm

Thanks Carne for posting this TR, and pictures.
It is really hard to get several days of good weather up at PRNS, but it looks
as you got two descent ones.
I love the southern end of the Coast Trail, the highlight of the whole trail to me
is Alamere Falls, especially when it is booming, and seeing it fall to the beach below
is very unique.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Mon May 23, 2011 1:42 pm

Thanks, Maverick. Glad you enjoyed it.

This was my first time visiting PR and I didn't know about Alamere Falls until it was too late to change our reservations. We came up with a return trip that would have us leaving a car at Palomarin, day-hiking to Tomales Bluff and back, parking at the Lauguna Trailhead and packing to Coast Camp for Day 1. Day 2 would be Coast to Wildcat, and then Day 3 out to Palomarin and off to collect the cars. We figure that would be a great north to south trip.
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
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Re: TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby rlown » Mon May 23, 2011 6:36 pm

Enjoyed the post as well. In my own back yard, and I don't go there. Not a wet sand fan, for backpacking anyway. You hit it at a great time.
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Re: TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby LMBSGV » Sat May 28, 2011 9:48 am

Thanks for the report. It was fun reading someone from outside the area's comments about PRNS. I'm glad you enjoyed the Pine Cone. The Station House is also a great place to go. My wife and I have camped in PRNS for 35 years. You can tell the rangers which site you want. At Coast the best is 1 (view of the ocean) then the site you had, 7, the most private - the ranger knew what she was doing when she "randomly" gave you what site. Sites in the field (8-14 though 14 is pretty nice) are the worst since they lack any privacy. At Sky, 11, the one below 10, has the same view great view of Drake's Bay, but is more private. Since 10 and 11 are the most popular, we often stay at 7, which is the most private and out of the dripping trees. One warning for anyone interested in going to Sky Camp, the sites under the trees (5 and 12 especially) turn into a mini ran forest when the fog comes in. Wildcat is a nice place to camp - the hike up from Palomarin past Alamere Falls, as Maverick said, is gorgeous. If you're thinking about going there, on weekdays the place is pretty empty. We've camped with gorgeous weather on a weekday and been the only people in the campground.
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Re: TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby AlmostThere » Sat May 28, 2011 10:05 am

Funny, we've done an annual campout there for the past few years, and I don't remember hiking in sand until we got to the beach...

Point Reyes is awesome scenery. Tomales is always a big WOW for us - people who've never seen an elk can walk right by them, within a few yards sometimes, since they are so used to people on the trail. But don't leave the trail!
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Re: TR: Point Reyes, May 2011

Postby Carne_DelMuerto » Sat May 28, 2011 3:17 pm

Thanks, for the input on sites, LMBSGV. We were at site 9 at Sky Camp, but we spent most of our time at site 10 for the view. (11 was occupied and we were unable to check it out.) We debated just moving over to 10, but decided we didn't want to be *those* guys and move our stuff if a group showed up after sunset to claim it. Site 8 looked good as well with a couple nice flat areas to sleep—better for a group of 4-6.
Wonder is rock and water and the life that lives in-between.
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