Don Nierlich led us forth from El Matador State Beach a half hour earlier than our normal 8 AM starting time so as to take advantage of the low tide to pass some critical points along this day?s walk. Still, all but two of the group were stymied by high water at Lechuza Point and took an inland route on residential streets, utilizing access points to leave and regain the beach.
Past this point, we walked the beach behind the houses on Broad Beach Road. A short while ago, Coastal Commissioner Sara Wan emphasized by direct action that many of the parcels claiming private-property rights to the mean-high-tide line actually had ceded to the public, easements over lands considered to be on ?dry sand? and therefore totally private. Her action was well chronicled by the Los Angeles Times (August 25, 2003) by Ken Weiss and Al Seib, journalist and photo journalist, who accompanied our merry band for several weeks in Northern California. It is sad that there are those who have so desperately the need to keep, that the traditional commons of the shoreline has been privatized.
Soon afterward, we entered Zuma Beach County Park. Here we continued on the wet sand as much as possible, because it afforded firmer footing, and looking landward, one could see that the dry sand had been mechanically sifted and groomed since the Labor Day weekend to remove trash left behind by beach goers. Yet, every 150 feet or so was stationed a trash receptacle, many with sponsoring advertisements or slogans urging all to be tidy. Clearly, an education program on the harm done by trash and litter needs to be done here.
At the end of Point Dume County Beach, Don gave up his leadership to Elizabeth Pollock, a member of Coastwalk?s Los Angeles County Trails Committee, who took us up and over Point Dume, through Dume Cove and around a lesser point to Paradise Cove. Along the way we were regaled with descriptions of which movie or television program was filmed where. At Escondito Beach, Elizabeth took us to her parent?s beach house where we had our lunch on the deck.
By this time it was high tide, and the same two who braved the waters before went around Latigo Point in an attempt to drown themselves. The rest of us braved the PCH to Dan Blocker Beach and the end of the day?s journey.
Back in camp at an early hour, we had time to shower and rest. We are camping at Leo Carrillo State Park, and being the end of summer, it shows signs of intense use. But as I sat in my foldable chair, I was able to watch little rabbits nibble on the shrubbery and a large covey of quail fly overhead and into the brush at the edge of the camp.
Then we all assembled and Melmobiled to Ramerez Canyon Park. This property, headquarters site for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, was originally owned by Barbara Streisand and was gifted to the Conservancy. Here we were the guests of honor at a dinner party organized by Jerry Daniels of the Santa Monica Conservancy and Sara Wan of the California Coastal Commission and Vote the Coast, and sponsored by a number of the region?s conservancy and environmental organizations. Also among the guests were Pedro Nava of the Coastal Commission, Sam Schuchat, Executive Officer of the California Coastal Conservancy, Woody Smeck from the National Parks Service, Hayden Sohm from State Parks, Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez, Larry Wan and Janet Bridgers of Western Alliance for Nature, Marcia Hanscom from Wetlands Action Network and Access for All, and environmental author Jennifer Price. Also there were Richard Nichols, Coastwalk?s Executive Director and others, including several Coastwalk volunteers. While we never doubted the importance of our Expedition, this recognition was wonderfully reassuring?particularly as we enter the last leg of our walk. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes and Don Nierlich.)
Left: A little boulder hopping between El Matador and Lechuza beaches. Right: Visitors are confined to narrow access ways on Broad Beach by such misleading signs.