Date: January 6, 2018
Place: Fort Bragg, California
Coordinates (of Glass Beach parking area): 39.452079, -123.809751
Length: about 4 miles (the straight route from the Mill to Laguna Point I meandered along the coastline).
Next spring I plan to take a group of families on a camping trip to Mendocino Coast. With the excuse of having to prepare for that I left the chikas in care of Pappa Quail and went on a two-day solo trip to Fort Bragg.
After a long drive during which I had to detour the flooded SR 128 and arriving too late to look for a campsite, I crashed at the first motel I came upon that had vacancy and slept well past my normal waking time.
I woke up to a lovely bright morning, a welcomed sight after the heavy rains I left behind in the Bay Area. After large coffee and a long consultation of my maps and brochures I set out to seek the famous Fort Bragg's Glass Beach.
|A wonderful day at the Glass Beach of Fort Bragg|
The first thing I saw when I arrived at the location of the Glass Beach was that the entire area was redone to accommodate the numerous beach comers, both tourists and local. There was a new parking lot at the ocean end of the street, with a decorated restrooms structure, and a water fountain.
I approached the cliff edge and looked down. The waves crashed again and again on the dark rocks.
|Sea Palm, Postelsia palmaeformis|
I quickly found that a new fence was erected between the trail and the coastal cliffs, and there was no sign of a trail going down.
I continued following the trail southward, looking for beach access and enjoying the beautiful day and the pretty sights of the place.
I didn't expect to see much bloom this time of year and indeed there wasn't much. But there was some. I was glad to see our State Flower represented a few very large and very orange blossoms.
|California Golden Poppy, Eschscholzia californica|
I arrived at the end of the south branch of the trail. Behind a fence and a no trespassing sign was an empty area where once was a huge lumber mill that processed all the redwood trees logged and hauled from many miles around. Now the redwoods are protected and the mill is gone. The sign announced the purchase of that area by the State Parks system and the planned opening in ... 5 years ago. They might need a time machine to accomplish that.
|Coastal Gumweed, Grindelia stricta|
|California Ground Squirrel|
|Fort Bragg's Glass Beach|
The beach was as spectacular as I had imagined. Yet, a local I've met there informed me that nowadays there's much less glass there than used to be only a few years ago. There reason became clear soon enough: before leaving I got to witness people coming down with bags and collecting glass pebbles to take away. (And no, it isn't legal to do so, but there was no one there to enforce that ordinance). It may well be that soon there won't be much to see in that beach other than the usual, natural beauty of that area's coastline.
|Sea Laurel, Osmundea spectabilis on a bed of Sea Glass|
I returned to where the trail merged with the street and found a bunch of blackbirds enjoying kibble that someone had left there under a picnic table.
The beach looked very inviting and the rock features promised excellent tide-pooling, but I left that to another time and continued on.
At first I stayed well off the paved Coastal Trail, but chose to walk instead on a narrow foot path that run along the cliff edge. This, of course, was no straight line but curved in and out as did the coastline itself.
A movement in the air caught my attention - a kestrel hovering in place, looking for something to dive for.
Here and there I saw some wildflowers. Mainly gummed and fleabane. I expect that spring bloom will be quite a sight here in a couple of months.
|Seaside Daisy, Erigeron glaucus|
A little bird welcomed me to the park - a song sparrow. Bit it didn't sing. It isn't that time of year yet.
The beach, however, wan't completely empty. A young gull was walking alone in and out of the strand line. As the waves receded the mud was exposed, all shiny, and reflected the gull like a mirror. The gull's shadow was cast in perpendicular to the gull's real and reflective images, and stretched longer than both, indicating that the sun was westernizing.
|Ring-billed Gull, juvenile|
|Ice Plant flowing down the coastal cliff.|
There are numerous little trails that cut through the prairie between the cliff edge and the Coastal Trail. I quickly found one of them to tread. I paused briefly to photograph an early (or very late) blooming Angelica.
|Coast Angelica, Angelica hendersonii|
|The Fort Bragg Coastal Trail|
|Ice plant-ridden Coastal Prairie|
|Manzanita, Arctostaphylos sp.|
The rain that washed the area the day before my arrival had left a few other-world portals on the pavement. All I needed was some imagination to carry me through, like Alice.
At Laguna Point there is another parking lot, picnic tables, and a toilet structures. There is also a boardwalk loop though a magnificent grove of Monterey cypress trees.
|Monterey Cypress, Hesperocyparis macrocarpa|
A few ravens sat on the railing, observing the people. Every now an then another raven would land next to them, a short quarrel would ensue, and then that raven or another would fly off.
One big drawback this has is the absence of a viewer - all that I was aiming at could be seen only by the view screen. The whales were to the southwest. So was the sun. In short, I was photographing blindly. Of the thirty-something photos I took while pointing my camera in the general direction of the whales, I got a few with a visible spout and only one with the actual whale showing. Still, it was very exciting to see these amazing creatures as they swam along the coastline.
|Black Turnstones and Surfbirds|
|Sunset at Van Damme State Park Beach|
Many thanks to members of the Birding California Page for their help in identifying the surfburds!
Many thanks to members of the California Native Plants Society for their help in identifying plants!