Today we said adios to Leo Carrillo State Park, our home for the past three days. In doing so, we left the stately sycamore trees that gave shade to in-camp activities. These trees with their velvety leaves and smooth patchwork bark ? the newest a light beige color tending with age to gray and then to reddish purple before finally sloughing off ? were especially active the night before, when we had a strong wind coming in off the ocean that caused them to rustle above. [Editors note: Leo Carrillo was a Hollywood actor (played Poncho in ?The Cisco Kid?.) and was on the Parks Commission for 18 years. He helped create many State Park units.]
From the start at Las Tunas with guide Lou Plauzoles and day hiker Greg Hickey, we could see with binoculars through the haze to our lunchtime break point, the Santa Monica Pier. The ocean here had the color of sun tea, a result we have been told, of the red tide. This phenomenon, resulting from the build up of untold numbers of red-pigmented microorganisms (sometimes algae, sometimes bacteria), is not only displeasing to the eye, but results in toxins which close off the mussel and clam fisheries in summer months and kill the local fish and marine mammals.
For the first several miles, the walk was a mixture of road walking along the PCH and beach walking. Again there were sections where the solid wall of houses to our right completely obscured the fact that there was an ocean nearby. By Topanga Canyon County Beach (where previous section hiker Mike Minky joined us for the rest of the day), the row of houses ended. From then on, we had to use the highway only to get around short areas of rip rap placed to protect isolated restaurants. It was gratifying to see that at one of these establishments, Gladstone's, an eating area with tables was signed as a public access area. At Will Rogers and Santa Monica State Beaches, some of us chose to walk the water's edge, and some the multi-use path at the back of the beach.
Both routes led to the Santa Monica Pier, and a reception put together by the Los Angeles Coastwalk people, spearheaded by Don Nierlich. After breaking through a banner celebrating our 1,000th mile, we were greeted by Kevin McKeown, Mayor Pro Tem of Santa Monica, Mary Nichols, Secretary of Resources for the State of California and Steve Horn, Deputy Executive Director of the California Coastal Conservancy. Following the ceremony, we adjourned to the aquarium for lunch amongst the fish. (Editors note: Heal the Bay operates the aquarium and kindly let Coastwalk use the facility for the reception.)
After lunch, Veronica Gray led us between the Santa Monica and Venice Piers. Here we were all on the promenade, not wanting to miss the henna tattoo booths, dubious art exhibits, and T-shirts of dubious taste; in fact, all that could possibly be described as ?tacky?. Here we met up with students from the local Crossroads School who came to walk with us, and as an interlude of sanity, took a detour to walk along the banks of one of the remaining canals in Venice. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)
Left: Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McKeown greets the Expedition. Right: Secretary Nichols delivers an optimistic message about the completion of the Coastal Trail.