Moving back to Southern California from the East Coast was not a hard decision for me. I admit, I miss the seasons and my friends but the allure of the West Coast is hard to deny. The perfect weather, enviable produce, flowers and beautiful beaches accessable to everyone. One of those amazing beaches calls to me, and always has; Torrey Pines State Reserve. It’s timeless beauty masks a delicate foundation struggling to survive in the world around it.
This natural reserve is located between Del Mar and La Jolla, within the San Diego city limits, along a long lovely stretch of the Pacific and is home to the nations rarest pine tree, the Torrey Pine. Possibly the rarest pine in the world. It is indiginous only in two places in the nation, here and Santa Rosa island off the coast of Santa Barbara. These lovely trees have many enemies including the bark beetle which has done irreparable damage to this species and it’s still evident. This fragile area is wild and untamed with trails that meander in and around the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Most of the trails have overlooks and no matter where you are it seems you have a panoramic view of the sea. Along the miles of trails throughout this park you see cactus and brush reminding you that we are actually in a desert. Benches have been strategically placed along the paths to enjoy some quiet solitude looking at the water. The reward at the end of the hike is strolling along this welcoming beach soaking in the sunshine and listening to the waves crest and crash beside you.
The beach here is wide, the waves manageable and you can walk for miles. If you go into the sparkling salt water you can head out a good distance and still have the water be no higher than your knees. The waves crash into you and you teeter a little, but don’t get knocked down. It’s a friendier beach to me.
The facinating and colorful cliffsides tell a story a million years old in the lines running through them, similar to the way sheet music tells us how to play the symphony. The sandstone, wind tunnels, caverns and fossils of this area make this park a geologists playground. Pay attention when walking past these cliffs on the beach. Many of them are unstable and you can see evidence of the errosion of time, wind and water with every step you take.
With millions of visitors every year enjoying this preserve, keeping the park and beach pristine is a constant endeavor. There are signs everywhere reminding hikers to stay on the trails so the delicate landscape on the other side of the rope can renew itself and find it’s foothold into life. Signs are all over warning that some of the caves, and ravines are unstable and in need of rest from trampling feet. Resisting the urge to step off the beaten path and take a picture is almost painful. The world around is spectacular in every way and it’s beautifully displayed here at this park. However, keeping it that way is sometimes as difficult as preserving the rare trees that are the parks namesake.