Point Reyes National Seashore

By David Gjestson

Point Reyes National Seashore is comprised of 71,028 acres of chaparral and 300-year old Douglas fir on rolling uplands adjoining 30 miles of beach fronting on Sir Francis Drake Bay. Camping here in 1579, Sir Drake was most impressed with the more than 1,500 plant and animal species found here in such a beautiful, pristine environment. Its 405 bird species is the most found on any in the national park system!!

Four hundred and thirty eight years later, despite winds gusting to 30 miles per hour, Laura and I struck out across the sandy beach for a three-mile trek to Coast Camp lying on the very shore that dashing Englishman discovered. (Later, Laura decided motels were better lodging options for any future trips.)

Dave and Laura

Laura trekking on the beach

The wind did not abate when we arrived at the small campground even though a large bluff screened us from the ocean just a few hundred yards west. We quickly set up our tents (singles because pack weight, not marital problems!), and struck out to explore the beach, passing few other campers on the way.

Our camp was just a picnic table in a meadow with the ocean over that hill to the left. Toilet close by! Hows that for a primitive site? The mountains are part of the coastal range extending down Californias coast.

Our solo tents werent because we didnt want to sleep together (after 50 years!).
It was because our big tent weighed too much (15 pounds!).

No crowds here! Just the soothing sound of crashing surf and seabirds passing by!

The beach was splendid and deserted as far as the eye could see. It didnt take us long to get settled and enjoy the crashing surf and a solitude broken only by the occasional Cree! Cree of passing seabirds.

Ah yes! Isnt this scene in most of our dreams?

Beach getting kind of crowded after all!

Heading back from the beach, we sat on a large log for a while to soak up more of the Point Reyes ambiance. Within a few minutes, a large covey of mountain quail fed their way to within 20 feet of where we sat.

Lauras hood is still up because the wind remain gusty, but sitting in the sun was very pleasant.

Wildlife was very abundant with black-tailed deer and raccoon very common, and an occasional
Tule elk trumpeting in the hills. This covey of mountain quail walked right up to us!

Isnt this guy a beauty? Mountain quail are quite abundant in California and rarely hunted.

By suppertime, the wind had not let up so we had to use the bear-proof container to cook because the stove flame kept going out! Actually, keeping food inside the container was mandatory primarily because of a high raccoon population. The little beggars were all over the place (except when I brought out my camera!). Deer often wandered though camp during crepuscular times.

The wind forced us to use our stove in the bear container. Black bears are in the area
but raccoons are more apt to show up at anytime!

Black-tailed deer wandered through camp at all hours but at crepuscular times,
we often had six or eight within 30 yards of our tent.

m-m-m-m-m-m. Doesnt get much better than this! (And, the wind died down!)

The next morning, the wind had finally died down so a nice hike was in order. Flowers were in full bloom, wildlife abundant, and the always-soothing surf filled our trek with pure pleasure. Our route took us two miles south on the uplands, a jog west to the beach, and then two miles north along Drakes Bay back to camp.

On the trail

Laura heads down to beach

Returning to camp by way of the beach was an added bonus to the morning. The aesthetics were outstanding enough to take our mind off the difficulties of walking in loose sand for about two miles! If you can hear the crashing waves and add that lonely Cree! Cree! of passing sea gulls, your vicarious trip with us will be more enjoyable.

These sandstone bluffs have been eroding for a while!

Sea anemones among the barnacles and clams.

Just the sea and thee . . .

We packed up late morning and headed out on the trail with thoughts of a hamburger and a cold beer waiting for us at lunchtime! Theres no question in either of our minds that we will return to this pleasant place again and again. Now, if I can only find a motel near here!

Packed up and heading back at noon. The deer crossed over into cover when we were within 15 yards.

One last glance over our shoulders before heading to the car.
m-m-m-m-m . . . I can taste that cold beer already!