Today the weather forecast said it was going to be a nice day so we set off for the coast. Tom had rented an expensive Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
Zoom Lens for three days and after spending time yesterday getting used to it in the backyard, he was itching to get out and use it.
We were disappointed to see fog as we backed out of the garage but by the time we joined Highway 17 and headed towards the Santa Cruz mountains, it miraculously cleared and with the sun beginning to rise, it looked like it is going to more than a nice day.
Along Highway 17, evidence of spring could be seen with lots of yellow and white blossoms brightening the roadside. After the recent rains we have had, it was nice to see the Lexington Reservoir with more water in it than we have seen for some time. The water had been so low recently that a bridge, along with a few house foundations from the towns of Lexington and Alma which were submerged when the reservoir was created, had been exposed. Let’s hope we will have lots of water for this summer.
We had planned to stop for breakfast at the Summit Roadhouse on Highway 17. When I checked online the opening time was supposed to be 6 am but when we pulled up outside at gone 7, the big ‘Closed’ sign was in the window. Thwarted again. As Tom was keen to start shooting, he didn’t want to travel around Santa Cruz looking for a breakfast place which was open, so we stopped at Peet’s in Scots Valley for coffee, hot chocolate and a muffin.
Soon we were back on the road again and heading north on Highway 1. Fog could be seen just offshore and we continually ran in and out of it.
We pulled into the small car park at Waddell Creek and Tom was off. Although the sun was shining where we were, the visibility was not great and the temperature was 45 degrees. I decided to sit in the car and write. The tide was in and the surf high but there were no surfers around. From my viewpoint onto Waddell Beach I could see lots of gulls and when they suddenly all took flight they momentarily blocked out the sun. Looking back towards the redwoods marching to the sea in Big Basin State Park, the fog hid the tops of the trees but rays of the sun were shining through. It was a beautiful sight.
When Tom got back in the car, the first words he spoke were ‘ beautiful lens’. He then went on to talk about a conversation he had with a guy who was parked next to us. This man had been to Mavericks the day before – the 2010 Mavericks Surf Contest was being held – and he commented that the waves out at the competition site did not look as high as the waves that broke onto the beach. Tom and I had considered going along to watch the competition but several things made us decide otherwise – there were bound to be thousands of people there and viewing spots are very limited plus Tom wanted to play with the lens. Just as well really because some of those waves which broke onto the beach were really big and submerged a lot of people. Nobody was killed fortunately but there were some injuries and lots of people soaking wet and very frightened.
Next stop Franklin Point. Once again, bright sun but visibility limited. The trail, which is just sand, was damp and the tips of the marsh grass which hung over the trail were wet and soaked my pants. Catkins and buds were beginning to burst on the small trees along the way.
Along the way I met a man with his small daughter. They were staying at nearby Costanoa. He said there was not much beach to see but he and
his daughter had bushwhacked their way along the top of the dunes and spotted a lone elephant seal in a small inlet a little way to the north.
Every time we visit Franklin Point there are small differences but today those differences were huge. As we crested the dunes at the edge of the beach, the sandy trail, which normally leads us straight onto the beach, abruptly ended. The high tides had wiped the path out. The waves were big and when they broke they lapped at the edge of the path 20 feet below us. No access to the beach today.
We avoided going too close to the edge. Sand is very volatile and can easily fall away under your feet. We didn’t fancy landing up in the water. We could see our favorite seat out on the point. To get to it we normally walk across the beach and climb up to it. Instead we decided to head north to see if we could spot the elephant seal but there was no proper trail. A beaten path of sorts could be followed for a short way but it was extremely difficult and highly dangerous.For Tom it was impossible. Not only was he carrying his tripod but the extra lens on his camera was very heavy. When I saw the footsteps in the sand right on the edge, discretion overcame valor and we gave up. Besides all this tramping off the trail is not good for the fragile environment.
We made our way back to the car. On the way Tom spotted a hawk perched on a tree stump some way away. With my binocular I could see it easily but could not identify it. It looked the same as the one we saw at Sacramento NWR just before Christmas.
On to Pigeon Point lighthouse a few miles down the road. The small car park was full so we parked on the road. Walking towards the lighthouse, I heard some people talking about Mavericks. They were staying at the hostel next to the lighthouse and had been on the beach yesterday. One man described the waves that hit the beach as a tsunami.
On the deck at the back of the lighthouse, the waves were up close and personal. Just offshore, huge waves were breaking over the rocks and the spray was spectacular. In fact, I could feel the spray and could taste salt when I licked my lips.
Tom was having fun with the rented lens. He’s so enamored of it, I’m worried he will want to buy one and I know it costs a few thousand dollars.
In between bouts of writing, I admired the view. Tom was still out on the lower deck and chatting away to the other visitors. One couple had a tripod and an odd looking camera, which they had trained on the lighthouse. When Tom returned to change his lens, I asked about the camera and he said it was a very old pinhole camera which is used to take long exposures.
For over an hour I sat on that bench, mostly watching over our equipment but it was a contented time; the crashing waves, enormous swells, fountains of spray, the frothing, seething, churning waters and the thundering surf kept me spellbound and the sun shone down. Hey ho, time to head home.
March 14 2010 06:29 pm | Special Places