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.
My Prince Charming husband and I got up this morning, and he began dressing for our Saturday morning hike. I told him that the conference was all day and that I was hoping to be there by 9:00 am when it started, which he didn’t realize. He seemed genuinely disappointed. He thought we were going on our hike and then I’d go to the conference later.
I considered this for a moment and then I thought, “Wait a minute! What am I doing?” I’m actually thinking of giving up going hiking. Something that will help me get rid of my diabetes so I can go to the conference and learn about diabetes? Needless to say, we went hiking. I don’t want to learn about diabetes…I WANT IT GONE! So off we went…and I’m so glad we did.
Initially we headed up I-5 toward La Jolla to Torrey Pines State Beach, but the road is temporarily closed due to some construction. We considered parking but a day pass, (and we would only be there less than 2 hours of that) was $15.00. I think that is a bit steep so we decided to go elsewhere. Driving out of the park we quickly discussed our options and decided to go back to Balboa Park. But just a short ways from Torrey Pines going south we remembered that there are some trails, so we decided to give them a try.
These trails are located on the UCSD campus and they are just wonderful. Quiet paths with few people, easy parking and numerous choices. The eucalyptus trees were just lovely with the extreme blue sky behind them, and the suns rays peeking through the tops of the highest branches. The weather was comfortable and not too warm. It was so pleasant out there I couldn’t resist snapping a few shots.
A little over an hour later, sweaty and breathing heavily we headed back to the car. While stretching out I knew that I had made the right choice. I also realized that I’m making this choice more often and it’s becoming easier.