SMCNHA Bean Hollow Walk

When April and I went camping in Half Moon Bay last month, I picked up a flyer for the San Mateo Coast Natural History Association.   I quickly donated my $35 membership fee and became a proud SMCNHA member, as I am a sucker for an amusingly-pronounced acronym (SMACK-n-ha).  My membership dues immediately paid off as, within days, I got an email announcing a guided botany/geology walk along Bean Hollow Trail down near Pescadero.

Anyone who’s read my blog for longer than 15 minutes realizes that it’s not a motorcycle ride without a diner breakfast.  Luckily, I live close to a really good one — The Depot Cafe is run out of the San Carlos Caltrain station and serves a nice ham/swiss/spinach 2-egg omelette.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s on the National Register of Historic Places, either. *local history happysigh*

The decor is a shrine to trains.  Honestly, it reminds me of all of my photos of my motorcycles everywhere with all kinds of scenery.  Even though I’m not a train nerd, I can appreciate the love of a good combustion engine.

Duly full of omelette, I turned the bike west and rode the 15 miles over to the coast and then 15 miles south to Pescadero.

I stopped for a brief break and photo op at Pescadero State Beach, which was nearly empty at 9:30am.  It’s one of the few places to get a good shot of the bike with the ocean, plus the sandy/gravelly parking lot is nice dualsport practice. 😉  I confess to missing the XT a bit there, even though the Ninjette handled the terrain just fine.

The guided walk started at 10am at Pebble Beach, a tiny little cove about a mile south of Pescadero State Beach and a mile north of Bean Hollow State Beach.

While waiting for the walk to begin, a flock of pelicans flew overhead, which I thought was pretty darned awesome.

There were about 10 people attending the walk, most of whom were directly affiliated with SMCNHA (on the board of directors, park volunteers, etc).  The first order of business (besides the coffee kindly donated by Peets in Half Moon Bay) was to walk partway down to the tide flats for a short geology lesson by Avis Boutell, one of our awesome guides.

The honeycomb pattern in the rocks here is called “tafoni” and is created by the salt spray and wind erosion. It’s really amazingly neat-looking stuff.

The bluffs here are from a ~100,000 year old marine terrace that arose from the bottom of the ocean via tectonic forces.  According to the booklet we got on the walk, the Pigeon Point formation along this part of the coast is thought to have originated over 300 miles south.  Earthquakes may be slightly inconvenient in these parts but they sure result in gorgeous scenery.

Next up was the flower portion of the walk, led by Toni Corelli.  I won’t bore you with all of the details, as we spent almost 2 hours walking just about a mile, but here are some of my favorite photos from the walk to Bean Hollow.

(Incidentally, if any locals are interested, Avis and Toni have a book: Plants and Plant Communities of the San Mateo Coast)

I wasn’t sure whether I’d like the flower identification walk as I was kind of “meh” on birdwatching when I tried that, but it turns out that flowers are much more fun to ID because they hold still.  I was a bit surprised by how much I really enjoyed it.

This photo shows two of the most ubiquitous flowers along the path: the tall white Angelica and the red and yellow stalky Live Forever.

Ladies’ Tresses orchid:

Hooker’s Evening Primrose:

We talked a little about ice plants, which I admire aesthetically but, as a card-carrying member of SMCNHA, must now hate and vow to destroy.  The ice plants were brought here from South Africa in an attempt to stave off erosion, but two bad things happened:  1) the plant is extremely invasive and chokes off native plants and 2) it’s very heavy, so it actually winds up pulling even more of the soil over the cliff’s edge. Whoops.

One of the things SMCNHA volunteers do is go along the coast and pull up ice plants.  Here’s a section that has been de-iced, as it were, and has gone back to its native coastal scrub.  I don’t remember what the stiff grasses are but the yellow plants are Lizard Tail (aka Seaside Golden Yarrow):

Harbor seals just offshore:

Anyway, you get the idea. It’s a fantastic mile-long walk between the state beaches and, now that I know that I can ride there, I’ll definitely be back.

The guides had parked a car at Bean Hollow, so they gave us a ride back to Pebble Beach.  That was the official end of the walk, but I spent some time wandering about Pebble Beach itself as I hadn’t done that when I first arrived for the event.

Kinda easy to see where it gets its name:

People used to come down from San Francisco to sift through the pebbles, which coat the beach with agate, chalcedony, jasper, moonstones, and sardonyx.  They’re incredibly smooth and soft; it’s no trouble to walk barefoot.

By now, it was lunchtime and I headed north to Pescardero and Duarte’s Tavern.  Somehow I’d never actually been to Duarte’s, despite riding to Pescadero pretty often over the course of 10 years.  I made up for it with a wonderful cup of their half-and-half soup: half cream of artichoke and half cream of green chile.  Highly recommended!

Someone with impeccable taste in riding gear had also visited Duarte’s:

This reminds me that I need to try on my leathers.  I haven’t put them on in a couple of years and I’m scared to death that I’m going to wind up looking like a stuffed sausage.  If I keep procrastinating putting them on, I can still pretend that I look exactly the same as I did in 2002.   Keep the dream alive!

I took Stage Road north out of Pescadero for the eight or so miles until it connects back up with Highway 1.  It was a bit more trafficked than I’d remembered it from years ago, but maybe that’s just because it was a gorgeous July afternoon.

Once back on Highway 1, it was a hop, skip, and a jump to Half Moon Bay and the 110-year-old train caboose.  There are some rumblings afoot to make the caboose into a historic structure and then turn it into a diner (fun fact: some of the ADA and other physical requirements for restaurants are exempted for historic buildings because the buildings have to retain their original structure).  Could be kind of neat to have a burger stand or something here.

And then I was basically home.  The ride was essentially pain-free — some muscle soreness but much less than I’ve had on other rides.  75 miles total.

It’s now three days later and I’m doing pretty well.  Sunday and Monday were almost completely pain-free.  Yesterday I was a little more sore, though not so much that it prevented me from doing 30 minutes on the elliptical.  After the jog, though, I’ve had a bit of muscle pain/spasms.  2 ibuprofen this morning seems to be keeping it in check, but I do think I have a hot bath with epsom salts in my future.

I see New Back Doc on Friday and hopefully will be doing well enough to get the green light to ride again this coming weekend. 🙂

 

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3 Responses to SMCNHA Bean Hollow Walk

  1. Colleen says:

    Yay for Carolyn! I was so happy to read that your ride went well. And I just love the pelican shot – nice! We’ll have to, um, go camping again some time =/

  2. Ocean Shores Craig says:

    Great article. Love the pictures. Hope you get to go again next weekend! Good Luck!

  3. Mike says:

    Hmmm, non-native plant species brought in to control erosion and then going horribly, horribly wrong. Where have I heard that before? At least yours has nice flowers.

    On a tangential course, how does the blue windscreen work out for you? I wanted a red one to match the bodywork on mine, but always wondered if it made any difference (not that I have a snowballs chance in fitting behind the windscreen on a Ninja) at all?

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