Route 1 Road Trip: Peaceful Hike in Pacifica
The beginning of a long, windy drive down the Coast of California begins with a sun streaked trip across the Golden Gate Bridge.The glowing cables lead toward the steep cliffs of the San Franciscan coastline… through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park… past the colorful rows of houses lining either side of 19th Ave.
As you make your way through the fog trapped neighborhoods of San Francisco, you find yourself joining a larger freeway for a few moments before splitting off again toward hills full of grid-bound houses that, from a distance, look like cloned copies of one another. A short drive down the peninsula leads to the sleepy coastal towns of Pacifica and Half Moon Bay.
This is where our first stop along the Californian coast takes place. A walk along the Coastal Trail in Pacifica makes for a perfect break- a moment to stretch your legs, embrace the picturesque beauty of the ocean, and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales.
The crashing waves and steep cliffs lend a dramatic atmosphere to the Californian coastline. A steep staircase leads to a resting point- a wooden bench overlooking the long stretch of sandy beach far down below. We chose not to stop, eager to continue exploring.
Upon ascending the stairs, vistas from Mori Point offer unspoiled views over the Pacific Ocean.
Have any of you seen the movie “Harold and Maude”? If you haven’t seen this cult classic, I highly recommend checking it out. The film relays timeless lessons in life and love… often coming from the most unlikely of sources. Add to that scores of uplifting quotes along the likes of “everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves” and “the earth is my body; my head is in the stars” … and you’ve got yourself a winner! Anywho, the dramatic red drop-offs of Mori Point are the cliffs atop which the film’s final scene takes place.
As we were taking in the serene scenery, a teeny chihuahua popped up from beneath the cliffs. My worry turned to surprise as three people followed close behind. Where the heck did they come from?! Full of adrenaline, one climber patted me on the back and informed me that there was a rope leading down the cliff that I “absolutely had to give it a try”!
I told him I’d go take a peek… but as I crept closer to the edge, I quickly realized that I lacked whatever crazy courage juice he was drinking!
Securely fastened to a large metal nail-like peg, a chain-link rope dangled over the cliff before disappearing from view. This got me wondering how they made their way down to the water’s edge… and, above all, how the heck did they do it all with a chihuahua in tow?
The serenity of the hike was (literally) in plain sight. A rock painting on one side of the trail and a stone smiley face on the other. If those don’t put a smile on your face, I don’t know what will :)
With the skies beginning to darken thanks both to a thickening cloud cover and the sun slowly saying “goodnight”, we decided it would be best to turn around. As we started back along the path back to the car, our peaceful thoughts were interrupted by the thunderous approach of a CHP (California Highway Patrol) helicopter. We watched as it circled the skies directly in front of us as if searching for a missing surfer, stranded climber, or sinking ship. With the treacherous cliffs below us and dare-devils like the chihuahua hikers out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if rescue helicopters are a common sight along the Coastal Trail.
We returned to the relative safety of Mori Point just as dusk began to fall. Lovebirds cuddled next to each other to wish the sun one final farewell.
We once again descended the wooden staircase, making our way back to the car. I paused to admire a young little lady who had come fully prepared, rain boots and all, to enjoy a good ol’ fashioned romp through the puddles. The carefree ways of children always serve as a reminder to enjoy the little things in life… and not to let a rain shower or two dampen our spirits :)
A windblown coastal cypress waved good-bye as we left the beaches behind and hopped back in the car.
Off we went, winding our way further down the coast toward the college town Santa Cruz…