Michael and I have been visiting Point Lobos State Reserve in south Carmel for almost 40 years now. The reserve was designated a world heritage site in 1967. It is only one of two sites where the Monterey Cypress grows in the wild. Point Lobos is one of our favorite places to explore and to hike in and I have taken literally hundreds of photographs throughout the years. It is a beautiful place that is filled with wildlife, Monterey Cypress, Monterey Pines and old California chaparral. The hikes are not strenuous and the trails hug the coastline with each bay offering another spectacular view.
The Whaler’s Cabin is a must see and offers the viewer a glimpse into the violent past of the whale hunts and the irresponsible overfishing of abalone, sardines, otters and all the marine life that once called this place home. You can touch whale bones and otter pelts and see the cauldron’s that boiled the fat of whales and stare at old photographs of whale hunts. The primitive weapons and harpoons that were used had to inflict an agonizing death for these intelligent and gentle giants of the sea, and at least for now we can look back and feel some remorse.
While hiking along the Carmelo Meadows trail, we watched 2 whales frolicking and hunting in the shallow bay while pelicans by the dozen soared overhead. I can remember when DDT had decimated their numbers and that of the bald eagles too! It is lovely to see these birds once again making a come back. There were rocks offshore where fifty or more were roosting.
We had to park the RV outside the park because they don’t let motorhomes inside, and it was the first time we walked in. It is free if you park outside and the foot trails were well marked and easy to follow.
Our last hike of the day was to Cypress Cove- one of the most photographed and artistically painted groves in the Reserve and I was saddened to see how ill the trees are. The moss and lichen have taken over and the trees are dying in great numbers. What was once a beautiful forest of mature trees, is now almost a graveyard of dead gnarled branches as far as the eye can see. It came as quite a shock to me and I am mourning for what once was. We had brought our daughter to see this beautiful Reserve for the first time, only to discover that the peak of beauty and health of these magnificent trees is behind us. These trees need fire in which to reproduce and thrive in, and because the forest is protected, no new growth has occurred. The California drought has added insult to injury and further decimated their numbers even more. Insects are plaguing them too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next 10 years something drastic will have to be done to save what trees are left.
We still had a fabulous time though and I took photographs and got in another long day of hiking. It is unseasonably warm and I have never visited the grove in the summer. It has always been in fall or winter and that might have made a difference to me. Wildflowers usually carpet the meadows and this time it was brown, dead and dried out grasses. I will have to plan on coming again someday soon in order to see how the trees are doing after some rainfall has fallen. Until then, I will just have to hope that climate change doesn’t cause further harm.
Callie spent the day in the RV parked along the roadside and she takes her job of being guard kitty quite seriously. When we finally got back to the RV, she was exhausted and ready to take a nice, long nap. Her relief at having us back was noticeable and appreciated. I made sure to thank her for her guarding skills and she got in a walk and had her beautiful coat brushed before she went to bed.