A Fangorn Forest and a Really Weird Rock… Pt. Lobos Part II

This sandstone  at Pt. Lobos has worn away to expose the concretions that were created in it millions of years ago. It gets my vote as a really weird rock.

I’ve become used to the idea that concretions can lead to some strange rocks. Several years ago, for example, Peggy and I had wandered about as far south on the Southern Island of New Zealand as you can go and had come across the rocks shown below. Bone, who is about four inches tall, perched on top of the rocks to provide perspective. These large boulders, known as the Moeraki Boulders, are concretions formed from Paleocene mudstone.

Peggy and I found this mudstone concretion in New Zealand on a South Island beach. Bone, who likes strange things, provides perspective.

Another of the New Zealand concretions and Bone.

Up until I found the sandstone concretions on Pt. Lobos three weeks ago, I was sure that New Zealand would win the prize for really weird rocks. Now I am not so sure. For some murky reason, according to geologists, these concretions form as lumps in sand and grow in concentric rings cemented together as the sand turns to rock. The weathering of the rocks at Pt. Lobos exposes a cross-section of the concretion, which is what you see in the photo at the top of the post. Like the rocks in New Zealand, I found them almost alien.

The concretions are found on the South Shore of Pt. Lobos, which is considerably different from the North Shore that I featured in my last blog on California’s Central Coast. Sedimentary rocks of the Carmelo formation replace the granitic rocks and the terrain is more accommodating to roads and parking lots. Consequently, there are a lot more visitors. While I had mainly hiked alone before, a number of people now joined me along the trail. I preferred the ‘splendid isolation,’ but my hiking companions in no way detracted from the beauty of the area.

Carmelo sandstone on the South Beach of Pt. Lobos replaces the granitic rocks on the North Shore. Like the granite, it is moving northward along the San Andreas Fault. This rock has been folded upward by geological forces. The distant land is part of Big Sur.

I found this large chunk of sandstone attractive.

The Sea Lion Trail along the South Beach included a face. The pebbly rock is a form of conglomerate. Cormorants gather down on the point.

Looking down into one of the coves along South Beach.

As might be expected, given that it was spring, the trail around Pt. Lobos was filled with flowers. Having ‘borrowed’ Peggy’s camera since she was playing grandmother in North Carolina, I was able to get up close and personal with several of them.

Monkey flowers.

California Poppies.


Wild Hollyhocks.

Miner’s Lettuce. It goes great in a salad, as the early 49ers discovered.


Indian Paint Brush.

Blue Eyed Grass.

And a rose, by any other name, is still a rose— even a wild rose.

My final view of the ocean from Pt. Lobos was looking south at the Big Sur Coastline, which is where we will travel next on my posts about the Central California Coast. The buildings you see on the left are located in Carmel Highlands. I once stood on one of the rocky outcrops and watched a whale breach just off the shore. The Highlands Inn, a fine old hotel hidden up in the trees, offers fine views of the ocean. I’ve eaten in the restaurant a few times but never stayed there. I could fly to Europe for the cost of a one night stay: $600 to $900. I said goodbye to the coast and hiked back toward the entrance station. Along the way, I met a tree that belonged in Tolkien’s Fangorn Forest. It leaned over the trail and watched me as I passed.

Beach at Carmel Highlands.

I thought these tree limbs were reaching out to grab me. And then I noticed the eyes. I looked around hoping to find Treebeard.

Instead I found this bench with its carving of a Pelican and important reminder. I thought it was an appropriate ending to my hike through Pt. Lobos Nature Preserve.

Next Posts: Lost in a snow storm, Big Sur, and the Man at Burning Man.

Special Note: For those of you who follow Bone’s wandering ways, he has traveled up to northern Oregon and will be out having adventures with Crystal Truelove at Conscious Engagement. Not sure all of what he will be involved in (you never know with Bone), but I think he will be attending a gathering of Cherokees. Last I saw of him he was perched on a beehive at Crystals.

21 thoughts on “A Fangorn Forest and a Really Weird Rock… Pt. Lobos Part II

    • I took a couple of courses in college and really enjoyed it. I have several geology books among my natural history books. I think some basic knowledge adds a lot to travel. New Zealand was my introduction to concretions, and what an introduction! –Curt

  1. I took one look at your blue-eyed grass and thought, “What?” It sort of looks like ours, but not really. It’s the same old story: same genus, different species. I like the stripes on yours: missing on ours. I didn’t know there were wild hollyhocks, either. We had the cultivated ones, and I made dolls from them.

    I thought about you after that huge mudslide on the coast highway near Big Sur. I can’t remember how long it’s going to take to fix that, but I recall reading that “a long time” would be specific enough. I’d hate to have been a tourist hoping to explore Big Sur and take the highway. There must be detours, but still — that’s one of the iconic drives in the country.

    • Dolls from hollyhocks— interesting Linda.
      I’ll be talking more about Highway 1 as it runs through Big Sur in my post. The whole coast is subject to landslides. I am always concerned when I drive the road during winter storms. And there have been some scary situations. But you are right, it is one of the iconic drives in America. People can get in there via detours, but not easily. Businesses along the coast are suffering tremendously. –Curt

  2. Weird rocks indeed. I thought the first NZ one looked like a petrified soccer ball, but that second one is a lot creepier and reminiscent of an oozing brain! Thanks for providing a few flower shots to take my mind in a different direction!

  3. Pingback: A Fangorn Forest and a Really Weird Rock… Pt. Lobos Part II — Wandering through Time and Place | David Falor

  4. A most excellent post. Really enjoyed concretions. I have never seen one, but there is still time! Rocks and geology just so much fun. As is the entire California Coast. Thank you.

  5. Those photos of the wildflowers turned out so good! I enjoyed each one of them. Glad to finally have a name for Asters, which I had not looked up yet.

    What amazing rocks, though. Wow. I am really fascinated with their formation and the end results, which are not consistent and make for even more to look at. The one at the top: really weird rock, wins it for me. That is one curious rock and I love it.

    Bone is well so far. Went for a walk with me yesterday along Mingo Creek here in Tulsa. He may be bored this weekend as we will sit through workshops, but after that we will head in to Tahlequah for more interesting stuff.

    • Can never go wrong with pretty flowers and fascinating rocks, Crystal! And our beautiful west coast has them in abundance!
      Glad to hear Bone is keeping out of mischief. And don’t think he is bored because he is quiet. He’s absorbing. I suspect he will have a great deal to tell me when he returns. 🙂 –Curt

      • I’m wondering, Curt, has Bone ever expressed a fear of buffalo? I met a herd today, and Bone stayed in my pocket the whole time. I don’t think he wanted to come out and meet them.

      • It’s possible, Crystal, but I have a photo of him resting between the horns of a full-sized metal sculpture of a buffalo at a site where first nation people would run the buffalo off a cliff. I think it was in Canada. I am pretty sure he will be delighted if you find some buffalo bones. 🙂 –Curt

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