After two days hiking in the San Ynez Mountains above Santa Barbara, the bluff trails of the central California beckon. Driving north on the 101, we turn at San Luis Obispo for Los Osos on the coast where we wind our way to Montana de Oro State Park.
On this off-season Friday in mid-January, the “rainy” season again is not delivering the goods. Though terrible for Golden Staters, it’s muy bueno for us hikers from Maine. A month ago the Pineapple Express storms blessed this region with heavy rains which turned the fields and hillsides a lush deep green. They dress up a serious drought.
Our bluff hike today is on private land that Pacific Gas and Electric has opened to the public for the last twenty years. Driving along the Pecho Valley Road within Montana de Oro State Park for a mile or so, we park in the lot above Coon Creek. From there it is a third of mile walk down on a paved road to the bridge across Coon Creek itself, then a climb to the ranger cabin.
Warned that cows may be on the trail at the end of our bluff hike, we begin our nearly seven mile round-trip with the spectacular wave crashing shoreline of the Pacific mid-coast. Though sunny, the coastal winds have picked up and chill us to where sweatshirts feel good. This is a counterpoint to the friends and family in New England we abandoned who are dealing with winter’s death grip.
Being a Friday, the trail is quiet with the white surf contrasting with the blues of the Pacific. As we did yesterday at Romero Canyon above Montecito, California, we draw upon Arthur Aron’s 36 questions for our conversation (click on this link for his questions). The first we take on is What would constitute a perfect day for you? After that, we Name three things you and your partner have in common. We go back and forth with this one and reach double digits.
Never seeing a rattlesnake or, for that matter, a coyote as we did last year on the trail, we weave past vista points at Point Buchon and Disney Point. On this bluff trail with no water or shade but port-a-potties at either end, we, after thirty minutes, take the trail inland –still in sight of the coast but no longer along the bluff. Hiking at 3 mph pace on this flat and friendly trail along the Pacific, we soon climb into the foothills to Windy Point .
Above the meadow at Windy Point within a mile of the end of the trail, we see the aforementioned cows in the trail. Once down the hill, we see the bovines turning as one to check us out. Though they seem quite docile, they do outweigh us by what must be 400 pounds. Ergo, we give them a wide berth as we head to the trail’s end.
In the distance we see two massive nuclear reactors operated by Pacific Gas and Electric. Nuclear energy! In the Fifties and Sixties nuclear energy was going to be the alternative energy source to save us all and wean us from our addiction to oil. How’d that work out? Where do you keep the spent nuclear fuel cells? Oh Nevada, you must have some mountainside for us. Just as long as it is NIMBY (Not in my back yard).
And now we are sold a bill of goods that fracking for oil will do the same and allow us to live indulgently into the next century. More fool’s gold.
The below video gives you a 360 degree view of the trail’s end.
We go for one final 36 question. Would you like to be famous? In what way? For me, it’s no way, Jose. In fact, I never buy Megabucks lottery tickets. I truly would not want to win and deal with the changes to my life. Hiking with Hannah on the Pacific Ocean is my idea of winning the lottery.