Monday, November 9, 2009
Whale Watching on the Rugged Sonoma Coast
"What is that spout of air out on the horizon?" I ask my wife, Anne as we walk along the pristine and beautiful Goat Rock beach bluff. There off in the distance is a migrating whale on it's way to Mexico and warm waters to birth it's calf. December and January are a wonderful time to whale watch from the many spectacular coastal trails that offer hillside views of our enigmatic ocean.
The days are warm and we enjoy layering up in comfortable sweaters and pullovers to manage the ever changing coastal winds. The light is diffused this time of year, offering dynamic and imaginative views of the Sonoma coast. One of our favorite hikes is located at Gerstle Campground. Park at the lot and stroll along the coastal trail littered with ancient remains of the California seabed. Rocks jut into to the sky with permanent scars of a million years of struggle with nature. Their statuesque sillouhettes take on shapes limited to the depth of imagination. Both animal and human characters come to life dotting the hills, frozen in time, casting shadows on the valley floor. If only they could talk, we might hear tales of mastadons scratching their hides against the rock, polishing it to a smooth gloss that remains today.
It is a moderate hike, with the main trail ending at a cove where we stop for lunch and watch the waves, kelp and seals engage in a dance with the ocean swell. For adventurous hikers, you can continue up the coast trail that shadows you in redwoods, their pine needles cushioning your steps. The captivating smell of the redwood and cyprus trees mixed in with the sea air is exhilarating. It is here that we find a solitude and oneness with our earth that connects us to nature and the explorer's spirit.
I like to describe our coast as "Nature's Zen garden", and if you continue to hike the trail I mentioned above, you will find an example of this by means of a waterfall with descending pools of moss covered rocks that gently flow and spill over into a private sea garden of lichen, moss and shell fish. This meditative spot offers both the violent sound of the ocean juxtaposed against the soothing sounds of the waterfall. A contemplative reminder that the world is a balancing act of both chaos and centeredness.
Our craggy coast with it's crooked teeth smiles lumbering down to the battered surf tide pools is like no other place in the world. The many trails that are scattered along the Sonoma coast with their breathtaking views are a journey back in time. Strolling along these paths, you get the sense of the vastness of our earth and the impermanence of our lives. This remarkable landscape excites the imagination and invigorates the soul and in a sense elevates our consciousness on a journey not unlike the migrating whales, seeking calmness and re-birth in a fast paced world.
My wife and I enjoy our hikes and the time we have spent getting to know the Sonoma coast. It offers us a chance to re-connect away from the bustle of the city and share with our guests the many splendid joys the Sonoma coast has to offer. Jenner is a haven for spiritual rejuvination and Artist's View and Painter's Dream is one of many special delights found on our coast. We look forward to your visit and hearing about your experiences and favorite adventures.