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Walk Your World: From point to breach

You’ll know when it’s time to turn back on trek up coastline

 King-size pieces of driftwood dot the early portion of the route. The Daily Triplicate/Richard Wiens
 King-size pieces of driftwood dot the early portion of the route. The Daily Triplicate/Richard Wiens
I’ve long pondered a trek north along the 7-mile stretch of beach from Point St. George to Kellogg Road. Mystery was part of the allure. Rivulets come in all sizes, after all, and I wasn’t sure what obstacles would be encountered.

Last Saturday, with low tide coming at 11 a.m. and only a modest threat of rain, we pulled the trigger, leaving one car at the end of Kellogg Road and then driving a second to the point. We set out on foot at about 9:30, a half-hour later than planned, and I worried a bit about running out of sand.

It turned out there was plenty.

This isn’t your typical installment of Walk Your World. There were no dramatic climbs and descents, no meanderings through old-growth redwoods in all their gnarly manifestations.

Still, it’s a walk worth doing — partly because when the path doesn’t meander, the mind does. And wherever your thoughts take you on this long, flat journey, the sprawling sand and splashing surf provide a pleasant backdrop.

There are special features along the way. Soon after we descended to the beach and turned north, we came upon the first of several massive stumps we took for the remains of redwoods that long ago established themselves unusually close to the sea. They’d been hacked at over the years, but they were much more ensconced than even the largest of driftwood clumps.

The way back, with Point St. George in the distance. The way back, with Point St. George in the distance. The Daily Triplicate/Richard Wiens
The way back, with Point St. George in the distance. The Daily Triplicate/Richard Wiens
Also fascinating was the fact that every time we looked back, the cypress-shrouded building and antenna near the tip of Point St. George seemed the same distance away — at a mile out, two miles, even three.

Before striking out, I’d contemplated how to prepare for water-crossings. I even considered bringing an extra pair of old shoes for the wet work, then settled on a towel to dry off bare feet.

As it turned out, only two waterways cut across our path. According to the map, the first was likely Sweetwater Creek, about two miles up from the point. We found the narrowest section and I attempted to leap it in a shoed state. Alas, the sand where I planted my foot for takeoff caved in, causing the other foot to land just short of the runway.

A wet shoe was the only ramification. The next waterway proved more significant.

The mother of all rivulets awaited us a little more than halfway through our planned hike. In fact it was the breach, where a rapid current drawn from lakes Earl and Tolowa met the sea. Sometimes the breach is accomplished with a bulldozer when the lakes reach a certain height. Eventually the ocean engineers a new blockage. This breach, it turned out, had occurred naturally during recent storms. But it was no less daunting.

We looked inland. We looked at the cross-current mouth of the breach. The water was deep and fast at all points. We wouldn’t make it to Kellogg Road, although I’m told the rest of the walk is pretty much more of the same — which ain’t bad.

We ate some lunch, watched the performance of a few dozen synchronized seabirds darting across the surf in tight circles, and turned back to follow our own sandy footsteps.

There was the repeat sensation of Point St. George seeming to hover statically as we covered the return miles. Our other point of reference, the St. George Reef Lighthouse, seemed like it kept moving around — a testament to the fact that we were traversing a crescent, not a straight coastline.

All in all, enough tricks to make it a magical day despite the breach blockade.

 

TRAIL NOTES

THE HIKE: A seven-mile out-and-back on the beach, starting and ending at Point St. George. When lakes Tolowa and Earl aren’t breached, you could continue up the coast, leaving a second vehicle at the end of Kellogg Road to make it a seven-mile one-way trek.

HIGHLIGHTS: Other than massive redwood stumps, there is a pleasant sameness to the sandy journey sandwiched between short grassy bluffs and the mighty Pacific.

SWEAT LEVEL: The key word here is “level,” although Sweetwater Creek’s conclusion does create a narrow waterway to walk through or jump over.

GETTING THERE: Follow Radio Road — basically an extension of Washington Boulevard — to the Point St. George parking lot, then take the trail to the beach.

 


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