I hadn’t expected to be hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when I visited Pt. Lobos just south of Carmel on the Central California coast two weeks ago, but that’s what geologists claim. They say the same thing about Pt. Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco, another favorite hangout of mine. We can blame crashing oceanic and continental plates, and the ever-restless San Andreas Fault, which is responsible for much of California’s earthquake history. Millions of years ago, according to geologists, the Pacific Plate broke off a section of the southern Sierra Nevada Range from the North American Plate and has been carrying it northward along the coast ever since.
I became something of a believer when I ran into granite on the North Shore of the nature preserve. When I think granite, I usually think of the Sierras.
I started my Pt. Lobos adventure at the entrance station and hiked over to Whaler’s Cove, which is on the North Shore. Once upon a time there had been a station for hunting whales here. From about 1850 to 1880, men would go out in small boats to harpoon whales and then bring them into the cove for processing. Mainly, they were interested in killing the whales to obtain oil for lanterns. A large Grey Whale produces close to a thousand gallons. Kerosene eliminated that industry, which was fortunate for the whales. A small museum in the cove tells about the whale hunting and other human activities at Pt. Lobos.
What fascinated me most about Whaler Cove were the harbor seals, however. There were a number along the shore: lazing in the bay, rolling around in the sand, and sun bathing on the shore. There was even a mom nursing her pup. My camera and I were quite busy.
It was when I left the cove and hiked up the ridge behind it on the North Shore Trail that I started noticing the granite— not to mention all sorts of other things. There were moss-covered trees, cormorants building nests, lots of gorgeous wildflowers, and several impressive Monterey Cypress trees.
Next Blog: Lost in a snowstorm with survival at stake. I return to my outdoor adventure series.