Saturday, April 21, 2012

San Simeon State Park Hiking Adventure

Today I had the honor of hiking with three of my friends and classmates from Cuesta College North County Campus (Laura, Kameron, and Tanner) as well as Laura's mother Geraldine who joined us. We met up late this morning at Shamel Park in Cambria, CA. We then convoyed to the parking lot of Leffingwell Landing within Hearst San Simeon State Park unit where we parked and embarked on our little adventure. We descended the wood staircase to the bottom of the bluffs and walked up the beach towards San Simeon Creek. Along the way I indulged my twin passions for rockhounding and beachcombing by doing a bit of both along the way. At San Simeon Creek Inlet we encountered a strong flow of water entering the ocean due to the recent heavy rains.

Given that some of us were not dressed for an amphibious assault across the creek we turned inland. Passing between the running creek and its steep sand bluffs and the part of the beach currently closed off to protect the nesting snow plovers we passed under the Highway 1 overpass and headed into the Washburn Overlow Campground. From there a short walk upon a wood footbridge got us to the start of the San Simeon Creek Trail, a 3.3 mile (5.3 km) loop trail that wends its way through the "back forty" of the park and through some beautiful riparian and coastal forest and chaparral zones. We enthusiastically traversed the entire loop returning to the beach upon completion and headed back down the beach to our parked cars.

At that point Laura and her mom headed home as they had other obligated in which to attend and we boys headed into Cambria to Sandy's Deli & Bakery where we got lunch. I had endured a long and difficult drought from sinfully indulging in what I consider sex-in-a-cup, their "natter nutty" smoothie (a diabolical blend of chocolate, peanut butter, milk, and banana), an indulgence whose irresistible pull has in times past compelled me drive all the way from Atascadero, CA, to experience. I chased that with the Big Sur Tuna Salad Sandwich. We enjoyed our smoothies and sandwiches while sitting in my car atop a bluff on the shoulder of Highway 1 overlooking San Simeon Creek Inlet.

After lunch we headed up the beach from there past the rookery and past the end of the beach after which the coastline gets much rockier for some distance. There we observed both cool-looking geologic features as well as some funny marine mammals (harbor seals I believe). After we finished observing harbor seals hauled out on the rocks we turned abound, walked back to my car and I drove us all home. All in all the day was magically wonderful and I look forward to something similar in a few weeks.

Monterey Pines at Leffingwell Landing.
Laura snapping a photo of the four of us all simultaneously snapping a photo of her.
Tanner and Kameron on the nature loop trail at San Simeon State Park.
Verdant bed of horsetail ferns we encountered along the nature trail.
At the back end of the park the loop trail features a very long footbridge.
Sea bluff slump triggered by last week's late season heavy rains.
Me experiencing a food-gasm as I sip a "natter-nutty" smoothie at Sandy's Deli in Cambria.
Mud flows that surged over and dried upon sands at the foot of the bluffs from whence they originated.
Kameron looking inscrutable before the mouth of a small sea-cave.
Slickenslided rock surface upon one side of a boulder we encountered.
Marine mammals hauled out upon near-shore rock formations.
Tidal pools adjacent to the marine mammals we observed.
Well-sculptured chert/jasper mini-sea stack rock formation.

All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

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