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Started: 2018-08-16 13:25:10

Submitted: 2018-08-16 15:14:31

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator visits three different beaches on Point Reyes, each special in their own way

On my last day at Point Reyes, I wanted to get back to San Francisco by the middle of the afternoon, so I didn't have the time to do a big day-hike. The forecast still looked like it'd be too windy for kayaking on Drakes Estero to be very pleasant, so I picked off a couple of smaller hikes I'd had my eye on.

The first thing I did was to drive around the corner from the Airbnb I was staying at to Shell Beach, a tiny sandy beach on Tomales bay, on the southern edge of Tomales Bay State Park. The beach was empty in the morning, but I could see how it would be a nice place to sit on the beach and swim in the protected waters of the bay.

Next I drove across Point reyes to Abbotts Lagoon. The trail took me past low shrubs and around marshes to the lagoon, split into two large lobes connected by a narrow channel cut through rock. The trail crossed a bridge over the channel connecting the two lobes, then disappeared into the dunes that bordered the beach. The dunes themselves were closed for the nesting season for a bird that lived there, but there was still space left where I could walk between the lagoon and the dunes to reach the beach, watched by the birds on the lagoon and circling overhead, but otherwise alone. I reached the narrow beach, a thin strip of sand in front of the dunes descending steeply to the waves, and gazed out into the waves breaking on the beach -- with miles of sand stretching out on each side.

Waves crash on the beach at Point Reyes
Waves crash on the beach at Point Reyes

I returned to my car and drove to Limantour Beach, and walked along the beach as it detached from the mainland to become a narrow strip of sand stretching out into Drakes Bay separating the bay from Limantour Estero, and Drakes Head (one of the destinations on my hike the previous day) looming in the distance across the channel. To the west I could see the hammerhead point of Point Reyes, culminating in Chimney Rock; to the south, Drakes Bay disappeared into the haze, somewhere in the direction of San Francisco. (On a clear day in San Francisco I can see what I think are the cliffs at Point Reyes; so I expect that I should be able to see the city looking in the opposite direction.)

Limantour Estero
Limantour Estero

I walked along the beach until I ran out of time, then returned to my car on the trail on the grassy inland side of the spit, where I could no longer see the waves but I could see the meandering inlets of Limantour Estero.

Trail running along Limantour Spit
Trail running along Limantour Spit

On my way back to the trailhead, I ran into a group of young adult hikers who solicited help finding their trail. They were looking for a trail heading along the beach, intending to loop back on a different trail returning from the beach, and were unsure whether they were heading in the right direction, based only on the maps they had on their phones. I didn't immediately recognize the trail they asked about, but I pulled out my paper map to check, and some of them exclaimed that I had a real map to check. Someone else wondered aloud if we could actually read a real map (I assume because it didn't have the handy blue dot that would tell us where we were) and someone else suggested that, if I had a map surely I could read it too. I confirmed where they were going and sent them on their way.

With my hiking for the day complete, I returned home to San Francisco to prepare for one last week in the city.