Five camera club members and two associates regrouped outside the gate of Point Lobos State Reserve just before the 9 a.m. opening of the park on Saturday, August 27. Since this is one of the favored destinations in northern California, an early morning arrival is advised to park goers.
The last field trip to Point Lobos was in December of 2004 and all those who attended were simply thrilled by the experience. I believe that was also the general feeling at the outcome of this trip. The park is still spectacular even in the late summer-usually the least picturesque time of year for most California parks. Although the brilliant greens and abundantly blooming wildflowers weren't present, the fairy-tale forest on the Allen Memorial Grove trail loop was nothing short of enchanting. We chose the forest trail because the morning fog persisted over the sea and killed all the spectacular blues that are usually reflected by the churning waters of the Pacific Ocean.
After a pleasant hike through the gnarled Monterey Cypress forest, we formed up again at the information kiosk and decided to hike the northern trails to Whaler's Cove. Point Lobos is one of two locations where these trees grow naturally. Many of the tree trunks and branches were covered by what appeared to be orange velvet, which actually is green algae containing high levels of carotene, the orange pigment that occurs naturally in carrots. The trees and algae co-exist with no detrimental effect to either species.
The hike to Whaler's Cove was not as spectacular as last December's hike, but even without the brilliant blue of the water for a background, the sights were sufficiently spectacular. Suzie, a new face on our field trips, was testing her Singh-ray filter, which adds a cool blue to the background and warms up the foreground. She certainly picked the right day to test that particular accessory!
The hike around the rocky coves of the point was pleasant and we managed to all find each other at the Whaler's Cabin Museum, housed in a small cabin built by one of the four Chinese fishing families that lived at the cove in the early 1850s. The cabin contains all sorts of interesting artifacts from the numerous former residents of Whaler's Cove, including Native American stone arrow points, antique toys, a massive antique diving suit etc. It is definitely worth sparing the few moments it takes to go through it. Included in the historic materials available at the cabin was a list of the many movies made on Point Lobos. Its movie history goes way back to the second decade of the twentieth century and includes such titles as: Captain January (1935, Shirley Temple), The Graduate (1967, Dustin Hoffman), Blind Date (1982, Bruce Willis, Kim Bassinger) and Turner and Hooch (1989, Tom Hanks and the big, slobbery dog).
The grass-roots movement to preserve the point was, in part, literally sparked off by those early twentieth-century moviemakers. During the filming of the 1929 movie Evangeline, a village was constructed as a movie set, and in the process of filming, the forest behind the village was burned and soon spread out of control. The fire was part of the film, but the destruction and blatant disregard of the filmmakers inspired local residents to come forward and begin to call for preservation of this uniquely beautiful spot. One of the twentieth-century Titans of fine art photography, Edward Weston, was one of the leaders of that movement. His participation and the work of many others made it possible to enjoy the beauty of this spectacular park-otherwise only wealthy property owners would have enjoyed the incomparable views from this most beautiful vantage point. The state of California acquired the park in the 1940s and, fortunately and rightfully so, the general public can hike the trails without "special connections" other than the $9-per-car users fee.
A tired, but happy group made its way back through the interior forest to the Seal Point parking lot and caravanned to Moss Landing, where we gathered at Phil's Fish Market to enjoy some morsels from the sea. Although it was a departure from the original plan to eat in Monterey, no one missed the traffic congestion near Cannery Row. Those of you who didn't go missed another great outing!
© 2005 S.R. Hinrichs