As we end the Bluff Trail hike at Montana De Oro State Park (over60hiker blog for March 15, 2014), we see a distant cottage that we will soon learn is the check-in station for the Point Buchon Trail along the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean. With already two hours of bluff hiking in the books, we are ready for more cliffs and more white water waves on this private land of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company land. Closed to the public for more than a hundred years, this trail was opened in 2007 to one and all.
Walking a quarter mile on the paved Pecho Valley Road across Coon Creek, we climb to the Point Buchon Trail check-in cottage. From 8A to 4P Thursday through Monday, the trail is open to hikers. We luck out in a big way since we had no idea there was such a trail and it just so happens that today is Thursday.
Greeted by a California Land Management ranger, we sign a liability waiver with our names, addresses, and emails, which all seems quite reasonable. Basically, we agree not to sue them if we act like idiots on the cliffs.
Fortunate to have one more bluff hike, we enter an area that is very well-maintained; private power companies have the financial resources to do far more than their state government brethern. Wire fences bracket the trail. What is described as grassy bluffs on the website are no such thing during this drought-stricken winter. The range around the trail is parched brown on land that PGE leases to ranchers for cattle and sheep. Bike riding is forbidden on the trail and these obstacle posts make that clear in an obvious way.
In five minutes we are at the Pacific where we see a couple from the San Francisco area chilling on a park bench facing the ocean. Taking each other’s pictures, we know how stunningly fortunate we are to discover these locations and have these adventures.
As a bluff trail, it is easy to keep a good pace and wide enough to talk side by side. Along the coast we see rock islands that are connected by multiple natural rock bridges. Spotting a western coyote, we see that it is the big brother to our sleek, fox-like Maine coyote. Our coyotes feast on cats. This western coyote needs Weight Watchers.
Point Buchon takes its name for the Spanish word for goiter. The Chumash Indian chief who commanded this region at the time of the Spanish arrival had an enormous goiter on his neck and was nicknamed El Buchon. As we all know, once we check Wikipedia, a goiter is a swelling of the neck due to an enlarged thyroid gland.
Unseasonably warm for January in the mid-70s, we have again found the perfect getaway for hikers over 60. It’s honeymoon material for the active set, be they young or old.
Trails along the coast with crashing waves remind us of the power of the sea. Hannah and I are not sea-goers. Sea-watchers yes. Sea-goers no. Rocking in a small boat on the ocean, or indeed a boat of any size on any size body of water, is not our idea of a good time. Fishing? I am fine with catching fish, but sitting with a fishing pole in my hands for hours – not so much.
After some four miles of bluff hiking, we return to our motel in Pismo Beach, then later explore the beach town itself.
A mile and a half from our motel, we park in downtown Pismo Beach, a coastal town of 7000 known for being the Clam Capital of the World. In the 1969 TV movie Dragnet 1966, Bill Gannon retires to Pismo Beach due to poor health. After eight months of eating Pismo Beach clam chowder, Bill’s health returns, his teeth stop falling out, and he is reinstated as an LAPD cop. Explaining to Sergeant Joe Friday the reason for his restored health he states, “The clams, Joe. The clams.”
Walking the pier that goes 300 yards into the Pacific Ocean, we look down to see ten- year old surfers learning their sport. With an individual trainer, each gets on his board, maintains his balance and then doesn’t; and then gets right back on the board again and again.
In town we see these chocolate crickets, which I believe they are actually trying to sell. Not tempted in the least, we wonder what it would be like to live in this coastal town for three months of winter. Laid-back lifestyle, hiking up and down the coast, warm weather, zero snow! And then we see our future here at Pismo Beach.