Swimming in Wildflowers

Tomales Point, Point Reyes National Seashore, California

April 14th, 2018

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It’s 7:45 am, I suppress a shiver in the brisk morning air as the night’s chill rapidly retreats from the insistent California sun.

I’m looking forward to this morning’s run at Tomales Point, a narrow, jagged, fingernail of land jutting out between the Pacific Ocean and Tomales Bay.  With the recent spring rains, I’m hoping the wildflowers are putting on a show. The first taste from the trailhead looks promising.

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A few hundred yards from the start, the trail bends around a hill, and I’m suddenly greeted with the first amazing ocean views of the day.

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As the trail starts climbing up to the top of the ridge Tomales Bay peaks out on the other on the other side, still covered in wisps of morning fog.

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This early in the morning, the trail is deserted and deliciously quiet. The only sounds are the muffled crash of waves breaking on the cliffs below, a chorus of birds welcoming the day, and a lone bell, mounted on a buoy in the bay, tolling languorously, like a church bell calling the faithful to worship.

Continuing on my trek, I soon reach a hawk perched on rock, surveying his domain while soaking in the morning sun. He eyes me warily until the trails leads me inside his comfort zone and he takes to the air in a flurry of feathers.

 

 

Not much further along the trail, I encounter the first elk gang, lazily starting their day basking in the sun to chase off the nighttime cold. (“Gang” is the official term for a group of elk 😃)

 

 

Rounding another bend, the point itself becomes visible, surrounded by the Pacific on the left and the bay on the right. IMG_1989

About four miles in the magic starts. The entire ridge morphs into a sea of wildflowers, filling all the land in sight with an exuberant riot of color. 

 

 

At times the trail is overgrown, and I’m wading through a wide, shallow sea of flowers. The sensation is hard to describe, surrounded and immersed in this unrestrained explosion of life. Flowers everywhere, I forget there’s anything in the world but flowers. The pictures and videos barely capture it’s essence…

The magic lasts for a good half mile or so, then the soil turns sandy and the trail starts dropping down to the rocky point.IMG_2026

As I descend, the ocean tugs on my awareness with a greater sense of urgency. The tip of the point protrudes precipitously out into the water, and the ocean becomes a fully immersive sensory experience, waves crashing in a thunderous roar with the raw energy of the Pacific, ocean spray filling the air with briny wetness, waves shattering onto rocks in reckless, frenetic motions, like a pot of marbled liquid jade brought to a hard boil. Farther out, the pristine waters fade into the flawless blue sky. The experience arrests my mind in wonder, as I stand there, engulfed in the perfection of nature.

When the ocean is finished having her way with me, I head back around the point, towards Tomales Bay, and climb a flower-covered hill up to the trail.

 

 

With my mind quieted by the ocean, the wildflowers seem even more ubiquitous on the way back. I could take pictures for days and not capture it all.

 

 

Reality seeps back in as I leave the flower sea and start encountering hikers on their way out to the point, snipits of chatter bringing me back to the world. The first gang of elk I met is now up and grazing as I return past them.

 

 

Back at the trailhead, the parking lot is already completely full of cars, at 10:30 am, and a massive group of hikers is preparing to head out – I’m glad I got here early. This is a very popular spot, with good reason.

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Here’s a longer video:

For full directions on how to get here, scroll down to “Favorite Run #5” on the TrailStompers website.

Questions? Comments? Please share in the comments below.

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