It was 100 degrees in Walnut Creek today, so Elizabeth and I drove down to the coast to stay cool. As we drove to Waddell Beach, I expected to find it cold, windy, and foggy, as it often is on summer mornings, but when we got there at 10:30, even the beach was sunny and warm.
Our hike was with V from the BayAreaHiking Yahoo! group. Jenny, Craig, Ilya, and Rita from our Humboldt Redwoods Grasshopper Peak backpacking trip were there, too. V and most of the other people on today’s hike were preparing for a backpack up the Hoh River Valley to the Blue Glacier in the Olympic Mountains of Washington. For training purposes, they were carrying all the gear they would carry in the Olympic Mountains, which made their packs much heavier, and their hike much more difficult, than ours.
We started at 10:30, walking inland toward a valley filled with tall redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens).
But before we got to the redwoods, the trail climbed a hillside of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii), coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), and poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum).
Once the trail came down from the hillside and crossed Waddell Creek, we were among the redwoods. The air was cool and our path was green and shaded. Thick stands of red alders (Alnus rubra) grew next to the water.
We followed the creek upstream for a while, then took the McCrary Ridge Trail, climbing steeply through a dry second-growth forest of Douglas-fir, tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), and huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum).
As we got higher, the soil became sandy and the trees became stunted. The Douglas-firs dropped away and knobcone pines (Pinus attenuata) took their place. We’d seen a similar environment when we hiked at Butano State Park, a few miles to the north. It was hot up there: we had no shade and the light-colored sand reflected the sunlight right back at us. Everyone slowed down. We looked back at Waddell Beach wistfully, imagining how much cooler it would be down there next to the water.
We stopped for lunch next to the Mt. McAbee overlook, at 1,730 feet. As we rested in the shade, V taught everyone some knots that would be essential for safe travel on the Blue Glacier in the Olympics.
After lunch, we took the Howard King Trail down to Berry Creek Falls. The trail was steep, winding, and narrow. It was so faint, it was sometimes difficult to find. I’ve come to consider these to be good things. The trail also descended through a variety of habitats, from chaparral, to Douglas-fir forest, to redwood forest. Elizabeth and I loved it.
At the bottom we made the quick walk to Berry Creek Falls. I’d already been there lots of times and taken the requisite pictures, so I tried not to repeat myself.
Next, we took the flat Skyline to the Sea Trail back to the ocean. Elizabeth and I, with our relatively light packs, were quick. But others, with their heavy packs, were going much slower; some had budding injuries. After waiting a half hour for them while getting bitten by mosquitoes, we and some others decided to break from the group and walk the last 2 miles back to our cars on our own.
Elizabeth and I finished at 6:30 and stopped at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company for burgers and beer on the way home.
More trip reports:
Jenny, who hiked with us today, wrote a blog post about the hike.