Hiking is one of my favorite habits I picked up when I moved to California. I hiked some in Minnesota but it was more along the lines of camping hiking—as in, you went out on a hike when you were camping. Which was only an option the three months a year or so when the entire state wasn’t buried in snow. In California, Emmett and I can decide to go on a hike and an hour later be trekking up the backside of Mount Baldy, bagging Strawberry Peak, or traipsing along a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail somewhere deep in the heart of the Angeles National Forest (when it’s not on fire, of course). And this can happen any time of the year. Whenever we want. Our conversations about weekend plans (or any day mid-week that he has off of work) generally go something like this:
Me: Do you have plans for this weekend?
EJD: I want to go on a hike on Saturday and wash the bathroom and kitchen floors on Sunday. Other than that, nothing else.
Me: Do you have plans for this weekend?
EJD: I want to go on a hike on Saturday and wash the bathroom and kitchen floors on Sunday. I think I’ll go shopping for records too. Other than that, nothing else.
Me: Hey, Kelly and Bill invited us over for dinner on Sunday. Are you okay with that?
EJD: Yeah, that sounds great. We can hike on Saturday and I can wash the bathroom and kitchen floors before we head to their place on Sunday. Count me in.
Like I said, addiction habit.
However, as much as hiking is an everyday option and weekend obligation for us, I’m not a big fan of hiking alone. I do a lot of things solo that many people wouldn’t even dare think about. I can travel to a new city or go to a movie by myself. I don’t have a problem sitting all alone in a restaurant at a table for two or four, eating an entire meal with no one opposite me, and doing so without reading a book or magazine. I’ve been to concerts, museums, and even parties on my own and I don’t have an issue with kayaking or swimming alone. Heck, I’ll even walk to my car solo at midnight in a poorly lit parking garage without thinking twice about it. But hiking…well, that’s something I just don’t feel comfortable doing without someone else with me. First off, mountain lions ALWAYS attack the lone hiker. Secondly, I can’t get out of my mind the story of the hiker whose arm got trapped under a boulder after he fell down a cliff and had to SAW HIS OWN ARM OFF with a pocket knife three days later when he realized no one was coming for him. Oh hells no. I couldn’t. So I hike with a buddy. Preferably one with surgical skills (or a steady hand, at the very least).
What does this have to do with Moss Beach? Well, I knew tidepooling was only going to be a morning thing because once the tide comes in, you can’t see the pools anymore because they are all under water (funny how that is). So with most of my day still open after tidepooling, I figured one of the ways to fill up the time was to hit up a trail or two. By myself. Mountain lions be damned.
I admit I wasn’t that thrilled about the idea at first, but after an initial two days of hiking, first with Nan and then with Emmett, with neither experience involving mountain lions or amputation, I had warmed up to the idea. Soon, planning which hike to do became part of my regular nightly planning-for-the-next-day routine.
In all, I took in four hikes by myself and two were standouts for me (not that the other two weren’t great but I’m not sure how much longer people are going to keep reading this so I figured I’d better just highlight two!). The first was a return trip to Purisima Creek Redwood Land Preserve, where Emmett and I had hiked the North Ridge and Whittemore Gulch Trails earlier in the week. I had fallen in love with the park on that day and it didn’t disappoint the second time around—more huge redwoods, more 180 degree ocean vistas, more active and abundant wildlife, and more wildflowers. Emmett and I had hiked from the top of the park down so this time I hiked from the bottom of the park to the top, following the Harkins Ridge Trail three miles up ridiculously steep terrain (turns out it was a mountain bike trail!) to the junction of the Craig Britton Trail and back (for a 6-mile round-trip hike).
The second stand-out hike for me was an extension of my regular afternoon hike through the Moss Beach Land Preserve. I took the trail all the way down to Pillar Point Wetlands and Maverick’s Beach in the little town of Princeton-by-the-Sea and then along the shore of Pillar Point Harbor to the little town of El Granada. There, I had a delightful lunch at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company (yes, the beer is delish and they even had a couple of vegan dishes on their menu!) before heading back home. The trip clocked in at about eight miles. What I liked about this hike was the it kept getting more and more interesting with every step. Around every bend was something new for me to do…from watching birds come and go at the estuary to walking the famous surfing turf of Maverick’s Beach and talking to the fishermen about their catches to rock hopping along the shore as the calm, steady tide came in at the sea-wall protected Pillar Point Harbor (a switch-up from the crashing incoming tide of the open ocean I was used to at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve).
You think you know yourself. In fact, you think you know yourself better than anyone else. My time at Moss Beach taught me this: you really do. No matter how open I am to new experiences, no matter how proud I am of myself for overcoming fears, I still don’t like hiking by myself. But it’s nice to know that if I had to, I could. And I’d enjoy it immensely despite myself.
Next up: Bean Hollow and Pebble Beach