Medical Update: J, Ginny, Max, Linda, Steve & Janette have poison oak to one degree or another.
This morning we awoke to the yapping of an extremely small dog who the night before was dressed in a rather jaunty sweater. It was just as well that his manners were lacking for we could then behold the full moon setting in the west and Morro Rock shrouded in mist to the south.
Our two guides, Doug Buckmaster and Bob Bell, and dog Jilly were ready when we arrived back at our day's trailhead at Shamel County Park, and we took off for what was a leisurely morning stroll through Cambria and environs, crossing the coastal ridge and walking a trail through Strawberry Canyon. We were also joined by Kathe Tanner, reporter and photographer for ?The Cambrian? and also ?The Tribune?, who not only took notes and photos of our activities but also provided lemonade and date bread when we passed her Cambria home.
We walked on the East-West Ranch, a recent acquisition by the American Land Conservancy, the Cambria Community Service District, the California Department of Transportation, Mid State Bank, the Coastal Conservancy and local donors. The ranch of some 435 acres has about one mile of coastline, and we walked along its bluff top trail.
Anne Getty and the Grand Canyon Trust have preserved a tract of land called the ?Rancho Marino? at the edge of Cambria, but the current leasor, the University of California, denies public access (research reasons), so we were forced to travel inland through Cambria. Along the way, we utilized the trail in Strawberry Canyon and a trail built by a private individual on private land but open for public use. This trail was on property owned by Harold Fitzwater, who operates the Frog Palace Bed and Breakfast.
Then things got serious. The next 6 miles or so we walked along Highway One. Anyway you put it, it is unpleasant. Here we went along the east side, sucking hydrocarbons the whole way. The lands we passed through looked tired; cattle trails scarred the overgrazed hillsides. Lunch was taken under some eucalyptus trees near the little town of Harmony.
Soon afterward, came the big surprise of the day. South of Harmony is a piece of land known as the SeaWest property. It has been recently acquired through the efforts of the American Land Conservancy. Greeting us at the gate to this property was a fine ? Welcome CTE 03? sign and many people associated with the project. Coastwalk was to be the first public group to walk upon this new acquisition. Glen Williams, V.P. of the American Land Conservancy, and Beth Van Valkenburgh, project manager, led us. Also in attendance was Nancy Graves from Coastwalk. State Parks was represented by Elise Wheeler, archeologist; Nancy Dreher, docent trainer; and Brian Barandon, ecologist. Brian was very excited to see this largest area of coastal prairie, south of San Francisco, still in existence. The property contains some seasonal pools and coastal scrub. Glen pointed out a likely area for a walk-in environmental camp that will be useful to people hiking the California Coastal Trail, which will one day traverse this property. The dirt road from the gate led gently up a small valley, then down a steep drainage to the coastal terrace from which there were spectacular views.
We returned by the same route, said our goodbyes to our gracious SeaWest guides and hit the highway for another mile or so, stopping at a turnout past Villa Creek, where we were very happy to find the Melmobile waiting for us. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)
Left: View of Cambria shore line; Right, American Land Conservancy greetings at the SeaWest Ranch