The fog stayed ambivalent through the sunrise and breakfast. One moment, the clouds would begin to consolidate, rise, and provide an opening to the sky. Then, again, it would spread and settle upon the valley’s ceiling, filtering the red and blue of the sun’s appearance. We ate breakfast, packed, and loaded up for our drive south along the coast. We chose to head a few miles down the road to Point Lobos State Nature Reserve, which listed three accessible trails to different view points.
Traveling with aging relatives, we have begun to pay more attention to health, energy, and accessibility aspects of destinations. We balance between retiring the passports and going further along the path than we can return. We lean toward the latter, with certain compromises. Some years ago, we chose to limit out of the country family trips. Staying in one lodging for at least two or three nights at a time is more conducive to unpacking and figuring out how the coffee pot and shower work. Bringing along a suction-cup grab bar to secure in the shower provides a degree of safety. Getting a van, rather than rental car gave us more room for mobility devices. Call them compromises or adaptations, as you wish.
Our concern about the drive south on Highway 1, was that many of the pull-off are merely that, pull-offs with sandy ground and little room between you and the vehicles driving along the road. Most of the trails include rough terrain, stiles over fences, cattle, and cliff height drop-offs into the ocean. Hmmm. Not good ideas, unless we are looking to read the wills. Not yet, at least. However, in researching this trip, we found that Point Lobos had lightly graded, packed pathways.
Point Lobos is worth the visit, even for those of mountain-goat orientation. They can take the many other pathways with stairs and rock scrambles. The sandstone and granite rock formations create several peninsulas that fight the ocean, with waves breaking upon the rocks. The waves win, creating golden and white beaches in the coves. Kelp beds and seals bob in the forming waves, which will foam upon the bolder strews shores.
We took two of the three accessible paths, Granite Point Trail and Bird Rock Trail. The third trail, Sea Loin Point, was hosting a guided walk when we arrived, thus parking was full. This may be a limitation for each walk, in that without parking, you cannot access the area. Then, again, having an accessible parking pass gives you a possibility of having a place to slip into.
The Granite Trail passes along the bluff at Whaler’s Cove. From the parking area, we walked back along the drive, looking at the shore birds and seals in the water. Poison oak lines the rocks, so one must be careful to not to lean too close to the edge. Nonetheless, views of the water, cliffs, and shore are easily seen. The Whaler’s Cabin, which contains a museum, overlooks the cove. While our party browsed, I tried to figure out why my camera was being fussy about focusing. Too many setting options.
The Granite Trail starts across the drive from the Whaler’s Cabin. The grade is easy and several small bridges keep it level over the drainage streams. About half way along the path, several benches await resting travelers. The seals bark occasionally to tease you to find them, bobbing with their noises out of the water.
The Bird Island Trail requires a little more vigorous uphill start. Once around the switch-back, it levels off as it rounds the crescent of China Cove. Again, at several places, benches provided resting place to view the cove. For the vigorous walkers, there are several side trails and columns of steps down to the sandy beaches in the various coves.
Even with the two trails, we spent the full morning at Point Lobos. With fog pouring over the reserve, and the coast, we did not rush out for the rest of the drive. Lunch was in order. The next listed restaurant was the Rocky Point Restaurant. The fog teased us, lifting and rolling in, sequentially, letting us know that spectacular views could be had. The seafood options were tasty and filling, though you are really renting the window for the hour or so that you are dinning. Do ask for the dessert tray to come to your table, but make sure that you can eat, “one of each”.