My sweetheart and I went backpacking at Point Reyes National Seashore last week, which meant we went three days without any news of the world or contact with anyone who wasn’t also out hiking. Coming back to the news of world was wrenching.
To counteract all that — since I’m sure that many readers are depressed by the news as well — here’s a picture of the sunset over the Pacific that we watched for two hours last Thursday night from Sky Camp, about 1,000 feet above the coastline.
Point Reyes is a beautiful place, with a wide-variety of flora and fauna and both hills to climb and a long stretch of coastline. We saw deer, rabbits, lizards, and slugs, plus evidence of coyotes and raccoons. (The raccoon left footprints all over my backpack as it crawled up on the picnic table to chew new holes in our big water jug.)
And then there was the skunk. On the last night we camped, we hadn’t closed the door of the metal food storage box all the way (we thought we had). We were awakened in the night by a loud clatter — the door swinging open. I grabbed my light and turned it on to reveal a skunk pulling items out of the box.
Flashing the light at it didn’t faze the skunk at all. It dove back into the box, looking for better items than toothpaste. My sweetheart got up and — very carefully — splashed some water at it. It took a couple of splashes before the skunk decided that whatever was in the box wasn’t worth getting wet for and slunk away.
Fortunately, the skunk didn’t associate us with the water or get angry for any other reason, so we both saved our breakfast and remained unsprayed.
Skunks and other animals are an amusing nuisance at campsites, but there are real dangers in nature, even in national parks. Point Reyes has a feature called Arch Rock, a rock formation that juts out into the bay. When we went last year, we had lunch sitting on it.
This year the pathway to the rock had collapsed.
That gap used to be a passage. Back in March, the park rangers had noticed a fissure along the path and posted warning signs, but a couple of days later a woman was killed when the pathway collapsed beneath her as she walked out to the rock.
Rocks crumble around here, even without earthquakes. Though earthquakes are a definite possibility. The park is on the San Andreas Fault and has an exhibit related to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
In this year of drought, we are particularly sensitive to fires in California and have already begun hiring Fire Watch Services NYC to help us. Here’s a picture showing that they are not anything new (though we’ve had more of them this year):
Let’s end on a high note. Here’s a picture of the actual point that gives Point Reyes its name, taken from the hills above it.