Place: Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove, King Range National Monument, California
Coordinates: 40.04525, -124.07852
The 4th of July this year happened on a Thursday. Add the following Friday and you get a 4-days long weekend - a great opportunity to travel!
We had originally planned to go back to the Trinity Alps but an insanely long heat wave was going on and the forecast for that area wasn't very appealing, so we decided to take the coastal route to Willow Creek. On our way there we decided to check out another green area on our road map: King Range National Monument. So in Garberville we turned west and drove for an hour on a narrow and winding road until we got to the little town of Shelter Cove.
King Range National Monument is a magnificent coastal range and is designated wilderness. Like Carrizo Plain and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monuments, King Range too is managed by the BLM.
With some difficulty we found the parking lot for the Black Sands Beach and found that it was full: it is the parking place for backpackers who go into the wilderness from that spot. So like others, we parked along the narrow road leading to it and headed down to the beach.
|Black Sands Beach|
With lovely yellow flowers alongside it.
|Oregon Gumweed (Grindelia stricta)|
Black Sands Beach didn't get its name for nothing:
I was completely taken by the shiny black pebbles. The black sand is even more impressive when contrasting with the white ocean foam:
Rotting kelp was heaped here and there along the strand line, giving a very distinct aroma to the beautiful scenery. When I lifted up the kelp, swarms of little sandhoppers jumped frantically to find new shelter.
We didn't walk very far along the beach. bit less than 1 mile out, although one can go up to 4 miles out without worrying about tides. At some point we sat down for a snack at a group of inviting rooks. Behind us, at the bottom of the hills, water was seeping out of the ground, creating a small delta where a few grasses grew, and disappearing once more into the sand.
At that point we turned around and went back. We continued walking south beyond the place where we entered the beach, toward a group of large rocks that protruded into the water, scaring a few gulls along the way.
The rocks in the water were overgrown with a pretty type of seaweed called 'sea palm'. I was mesmerized by the waves that washed again and again over the sea palm groves.
The big rock on the south side of the beach has a long cave that opens into the water. The waves were washing through the cave. Naturally, I looked inside and, attracted by the little spot of light in the back, I crept in a bit further. On the cave walls were clinging groups of barnacles. A small hole in the ceiling lit in a ray of bright light, creating a small circle of illumination on the water. Really, all that was missing was a pirate's treasure chest :-)
Just outside the cave I found this little guy: an isopod that lives in rocky tidal zones. In fact, it wasn't all that little, about an inch long it was.
Some of them were easy to photograph,
|Seaside Fleabane (Erigeron glaucus)|
|Bluff Lettuce (Dudelia farinosa)|
|Yellow Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus)|
|Western Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)|
|Common Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)|
|Seaside Buckwheat (Eriogonum latifoium)|
Many thanks to members of the California Wildlife Appreciators group for their help in identifying the rock Isopod.