Flocks on the Coast

As it is supposedly winter, I spent my morning crocheting a wool beanie, sitting outside on the back deck. Hummingbirds were a-buzzin’ and the squirrels were back-and-forth-ing from redwood to ash to cedar to acacia. I got too hot in my wool sweater, took it off, and said to myself,

I’ve got to get to the coast today…

At 1:00pm I made some phone calls, hollering at a few friends to see if anyone wanted to head to Mount Tam or Alamere Falls at Point Reyes. Fun fact, Alamere Falls is one of two waterfalls on the California Coast that break directly into the ocean (check out McWay Falls in Big Sur). Half an hour later, no return calls, save for my pal Vince:

“Holy sh%* I’m on Mount Tam. Just rode my bike here!!! If you see a red jersey and green bike moving real slow, it’s me!”

Two thumbs up to you Vince. Way to get after it on a gorgeous Saturday. I invited my Mom to join me — without hesitation we hopped into my car. Alas, we didn’t see the speedy cyclist as we drove north across the Golden Gate. Blue green water and blue skies and a slight breeze on the bay. This is January in the Bay Area.

After cresting Mount Tam and cruising alongside the Bolinas Lagoon, we rolled out to the end of Mesa Road and were shocked by the steady stream of cars passing us (heading back into town) and the number of vehicles parked on the edge of the road (extending a half mile out from the parking lot). Pam worried. I grinned.

My plan:
Arrive at the Palomarin Trailhead parking lot just as the day hike crowd begins departing. Book it hiking north on the Coast trail for a few miles and catch the sunset from the top of Alamere Falls. Explore the falls and hike down to the beach and then hike out to the car in the dark with headlamps.

Success. As predicted, we stepped aside to let the masses exodus… we passed 50+ people on our way in to the falls. At 5:05pm, the sun dipped behind the distant fog bank in a blink. Arriving at the falls as the lone viewers, we were greeted with a view of a massive flock of seagulls taking baths on the beach, where the freshwater stream meets the ocean.

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There was more water in the falls than I had expected.

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The birds took flight as we scrambled down to the beach and a doe grazing on the bluff above seemed a bit confused as to why we hadn’t skipped town with all of the other day hikers. The post-sunset jaw-drop color burst was not only in the sky — it reflected off the wet sand above the tide line.

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The Dreamworks-esque moon waved hello while the ocean waved goodbye, as we set off back down the trail.

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Once we get some rain, wait until the springtime wildflowers perk and then head to the falls …on a weekday. Plan so that you share the journey with flocks of birds, not flocks of people.

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