Point Reyes National Seashore: Tomales Point

This past Sunday I went with a Meetup group on a 9.5 mile out-and-back hike to Tomales Point at Point Reyes National Seashore. Though we didn’t start the hike until almost noon, it was very foggy and visibility was poor. I didn’t care, because I was excited to see tule elk for the first time.

Their breeding season ends at the end of the month, so I was hoping to see some rutting and maybe even some dueling between males.

 I think that the season may have ended early this year, though, because most of the elk I saw were very calm and unfazed by my presence.

Well, almost all of them. 🙂

There are over 270 tule elk at the preserve. According to a ranger I spoke with, a small number of the species was introduced to the area in the 70s and the population has slowly (but surely) grown over time. Their numbers have taken a small hit because of the drought, but they’re otherwise thriving.

Besides elk, I also spotted a coyote (or perhaps a fox, it was very far away and hard to tell), a prairie falcon, and many vultures along the trail.

Also, a few interesting plants.

I found it very interesting that there were hundreds of small white shells scattered throughout the sandy trail. Since the trail is easily fifty or more feet above sea level, it’s a mystery to me how they got there.
Speaking of sand, although this trail doesn’t have much elevation change, I’d rate it as a moderate hike because it requires extra effort to trudge through sand. I was winded at some points!

When we reached the point, it was shrouded in more fog and mist. We could barely make out the horizon.

Then something beautiful happened, just as we were about to turn around and retrace our steps to the trail head.

The following two pictures were taken only eleven minutes apart.

Ready…? drumroll

Can you believe it? The sun suddenly broke through the fog, and within several seconds it just seemed to vanish completely. It was pretty incredible. Nature never disappoints! Our walk back was a lot more scenic, now that we could actually see.

It was a beautiful day.

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