Milpitas Camera Club Field Trip

Field Trip: Point Lobos State Reserve
Trip Date: Febuary 7, 2009
Report Author: Scott Hinrichs
Report Date: Febuary 9, 2009

When you look in the brochure, the park literature describes Point Lobos in the flowery words of a landscape painter from years past: "The greatest meeting of land and water in the world."

This past weekend those words could have never prove truer as heavier than usual surf combined with a high tide, sent large waves crashing spectacularly into the sea-carved rock formations of Point Lobos. The eight persons who came to Point Lobos State Reserve on our Saturday, February 7 field trip saw an agitated Pacific Ocean pounding away at the picturesque cliffs and coves with a perfect painted sky hanging over the entire, dramatic tableau - you couldn't have cherry-picked a more perfect day to go see Point Lobos! I'm certainly glad I didn't cancel the trip because of a little bad weather the day before our trip. I have never seen this landscape so spectacular and the weather so beautiful and well suited for photography. You should really kick yourself if you missed this most beautiful of days!

Both subgroups - the shooties and the foodies - were certainly living large last Saturday. After the usual bountiful breakfast at Bite-O-Wyoming we caravanned down 101 and got to the park an hour or two after the gate opened. There was ample parking, and as we unloaded, we saw the early shooters coming back from the Sea Lion Point loop trail with news of the spectacular surf. They, in turn took another hike as we ventured out to see plumes of a million pulverized water drops and sea spray shoot up into the sky in spectacular, milky white fans of water and mist. The power of moving water is truly awe-inspiring. Those of us with cameras tried to capture the essence of this never-ending struggle between the unrelenting ocean and the unyielding formations of Santa Lucia Granodiorite (the granite rock that forms the sea cliffs and coves) and the softer Carmelo Sandstone conglomerate overlying it on the point and along the weathered south shore of the point.

After taking the Sea Lion loop, our group hiked the Allan Memorial Grove trail loop around the next point to the north. Having taken that short but spectacular trail several times, it all seemed just as new as it was the first time I hiked it. What an amazing place - all it takes is a simple change in the weather to transform Pt. Lobos into an entirely different landscape! That is probably one of the reasons why sightseers, photographers and artists never tire of its unique beauty. There are many such "perfect" places in our Golden State - Yosemite, Death Valley, BigSur, etc. where you seem to never tire of the timeless beauty. We Californians are so lucky to live in such a spectacular landscape - and to those who whine about our state, I suggest they go support their own mudholes, swamps and mounds in their own states.

The forest on the Allan Memorial Grove trail winds through one of only two natural stands of Monterey Cypress. Point Lobos was protected to preserve these trees, which would have probably been gone had the developers been unleashed to build on the point. The trees survive on the moisture from the fog and the nourishment their roots can eke out of the soil deposited in the cracks of the rocks. A conspicuous feature on some of the trees is a bright orange that grows on the north-facing branches and trunks of trees near the sea cliffs. This is actually green algae containing carotene, which makes it bright orange. It is one of the unique sights of Point Lobos.

We also took a brief side trip to see the gnarly old Monterey Cypress that precariously clings to one of the cliffs in the next cove. You can view the old tree from a side trail near the Allan Grove loop - it is my favorite tree in the reserve. It seems that every cove has a visual treasure for the photographer. Exploring Point Lobos is like finding a pearl in every oyster you open.

Meanwhile, the other group took a side trip to another favorite haunt of photographers, Weston Beach. Named after Edward Weston, one of the Titans of fine photography, the beach was one of his favorite locations to capture poetic images of the light and shadows on these most-photographed of rock formations.

After our exhilarating experience on the point, most of us convened at Phil's Fish Market at the Moss Landing to celebrate our day of spectacular shooting. Phil's is a great place to enjoy some great local seafood, since it sits on the lip of a very active fishing harbor. The top choice at our table was Phil's chioppino. Some of Phil's other favorites include the large fish tacos , halibut, fish & chips and fried artichoke hearts (a local delicacy of the Castroville area). No matter how steep the prices, Phil's food seems to always please our group. After a substantial late lunch, our "foodie" carpool took it to yet another level and went over to the Haute Tamale and had the Mexican Mocha, per Mike's recommendation. Our drinks in hand, we stolled over to the nearby gallery a took a look at some of the local artwork in the adjacent gallery.

All in all, this Saturday was a great day for all involved, regardless of whether the artistic tool of choice was a fork or a camera!

© 2009 S.R. Hinrichs