We gathered at the San Diego side of the San Diego - Coronado ferry and got onto the ship?s first trip for this Sunday morning. The ride took us across the harbor, gliding past the pontoon barrier separating the world from the U. S. Navy aircraft carriers anchored at the Naval Air Station. Once ashore, we walked across Coronado, rejoining our ocean at the Hotel Del Coronado, the ?Hotel Del? to those in the know or wishing to appear so.
The beach here goes by some particularly jarring and out of place high-rise condominiums, which were built before the Coastal Commission came into existence. Swap east for west and we?d be in Miami. Our walk now was on Coronado Beach, as it headed south towards Silver Strand State Beach. In between lay the U. S. Naval Amphibious Base where the San Diego County Coastwalk was denied access. Conditions must have eased since then, as we were allowed to continue on our way.
Now it was as if we had come full circle. As in Del Norte, a broad, flat, firm sandy expanse of sand awaited us. And as in Del Norte, the sunlight and small wavelets reaching the beach conspired together to produce an intricate pattern of seemingly diamond studded lace, ever changing. The little waves came towards the sand slowly; let their leading edges weave a dance of brilliance, a joyous skipping of exuberance. Here, though, was the added ingredient of gold; some mineral in this sand made the beach at the water line appear as if covered with glitter. Some of this material floated upon the water; some flowed with the waves, tumbling in underwater rivulets back and forth as they surged forward.
This scene, a fit source of inspiration for a Sunday morning, was contrasted with the U. S. Naval Amphibious Base to our left. Here a long sand dune had been artificially constructed which shielded the base from our view. Laboring up and down this dune, at a trot, was a young SEAL with a backpack: and not just any backpack. Judging from his posture, this pack must have contained a crushing weight. As we walked merrily along our beach, one day from our destination, he ran up and down for a destination, God knows where.
Past this base and the state beach, we passed in front of yet another military installation; this time a naval communication station. Our day?s walk done, we hopped aboard the Melmobile and a short ride to the Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center.
Here some fifty people ? friends, Coastwalkers, volunteers ? were gathered to say hello, congratulate us, and wish us well for the final day. We all knew, of course, that such an event would be taking place; we were not prepared for the emotion it would evoke. After a Mexican buffet, we gathered and various proclamations were said and given, and each walker had a chance to say what struck them as important to say. Steve Horn from the Conservancy, who had attended our press conference in Santa Monica, was again on hand: his message was two fold ? thanks for the good work for the coast, and there is much more work to be done.
Five o?clock rolled around, and we went back to Silver Strand State Beach for one last chance to put up our tents, blow up the air mattresses and sleep in the sand. Many in attendance at the gathering joined us for this last night on the trail. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)
Left: San Diego viewed in the early morning from the Coronado Ferry. Right: Max unloads the van's rack one last time.