I went with my meetup friends to Wilder Ranch, just north of Santa Cruz, about an hours drive from where I live (it helps to carpool as we did). If you head inland, this state park is hilly, a mountain bike mecca. But we stayed on the coastal side, where it is a beautiful fairly flat walk along bluffs. It only gets a bit challenging when you want to go down to one of the coves to get to the beach.
Looking inland as you walk there were a lot of farm fields, including artichoke and brussel sprouts crops. Here are huge brussel sprout fields looking northeast, with the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountain beyond:
A panorama of the bluffs and the Pacific:
There were a lot of birds including pelicans, seagulls, and cormorants. And this guy, a sandpiper I think:
An interesting example of natural coastal erosion:
Harbor seals sunning themselves. Occasionally a sea lion would swim up and bark at them:
We hiked down to a cove (Strawberry beach) to take a break:
Here’s the view from where we were sitting:
At the end we got to the ranch buildings, now an interpretive center.
There was what appeared to be a giant Aloe Vera bush in the yard:
We got really lucky, the fog burned off quickly and we had a gorgeous sunny and cool day. After a nice 3 hour hike we went to “Hula’s”, a Hawaiian-themed seafood restaurant in downtown Santa Cruz for a great lunch.
This was a nice way to combine physical activity and fun with friends. It was also a breakthrough for me as it was the first long walk with 2 poles since my surgery, with no issues. And I had no problem working my way down to the beach. I’m ready for (careful) full-blown hiking!