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Point Reyes 2007 Trip

Day 2 of 3

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Saturday, December 29th
Earthquake Trail, Elephant Seal viewing

We woke up to a sky covered in clouds and light rain. It would be miserable most of the day, but we expected this from the forecast. We looked forward to Sunday, when it was supposed to be sunny.

Once again, we drove to Point Reyes Station. While there are one or two places to eat in Olema itself, there appear to be more options in Point Reyes Station. We opted for the Pine Cone Diner for breakfast. Once again, the food was over-priced. Even worse, the food was sub-par. Afterwards, we walked across the street to the Cowgirl Creamery to pick up some sandwiches to bring with us for lunch later.

Since the weather was miserable, we weren't going to be visiting any beaches today. We drove to the Bear Valley Visitor Center and hiked the short Earthquake Trail.

After the hike, we drove about 45 minutes to the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Along the way we passed several ranches (there are lots of dairy farms). We couldn't see much else because the fog grew thicker and thicker as we neared the lighthouse. Near the end, visibility grew so bad that we could only see the car in front of us, and only then if we kept close. When we got to the lighthouse, two docents in the parking area told us that it was open and you could visit, but it's a 0.4 mile walk (and down 308 steps), and you wouldn't be able to see any migrating whales. We knew we wouldn't be able to see much, but Nathan had insisted on seeing the lighthouse and I'd forgotten it was a long walk down (I'd visited the lighthouse many years ago).

Well, we sat in the parking lot (which, despite the weather, was almost full) and ate our sandwiches (which were quite good), and then decided to take the docents' advice, which was to visit the Elephant Seal Overlook instead. So we returned to the main road, then turned right toward the Chimney Rock trailhead. Here, the fog grew thicker and even worse, the road is only wide enough for one car. Needless to say I drove very slowly. Luckily, we didn't encounter any oncoming traffic until we were almost at the parking lot, and visibility was a bit better. I pulled over slightly to let them pass.

The parking lot serves the Chimney Rock trailhead, but also the Elephant Seal Overlook and Historic Point Reyes Lifeboat Station. We walked the short path to the overlook; the path is flat and about 40 feet above Drakes Bay. We immediately saw an elephant seal in the water below, and many of them lying on the beach further along. We arrived at the overlook, where there were several visitors and docents. There were also several spotting scopes set up where you could look at the elephant seals (no charge). There were some recent births and the docents pointed them at the newborns.

Trail to Elephant Seal Overlook

View of Drakes Bay beach from Elephant Seal Overlook

While it was nice to see them, we were still quite far (perhaps a couple hundred feet from the closest ones). This is nothing compared to Ano Nuevo, where you can almost reach out and touch them (although you do have to pay for the privilege). So, if you're in the area of Chimney Rock, it's worth a stop at the Elephant Seal overlook. But if you're looking for the best place to see elephant seals, plan a trip to Ano Nuevo.

Elephant seals on the beach

Is that a big yawn?

Afterwards, we drove back to Point Reyes Station. We visited some of the shops along the main road. There were some boarded up places on the edge of town. Some of the shops were clean and upscale, but nothing particularly compelling.


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