Point Reyes: Backpacking in January

DSC_0421.JPG

I'm just going to begin by saying LOL WINTER STORM JUNO, and by pointing out the stark contrast between California winters and East Coast winters. I just went camping in the middle of January (#typicalCAwinter), while my friends in NYC are getting cozy in their apartments and maybe mustering up enough courage to brave the cold for a brief snowball fight. I know some people really love their seasons, but boy, I'm shivering just thinking about the cold!

Anyway. I started a new job a couple weeks ago, and so far, I still find time to blog, craft, and make some Etsy orders - a work/life balance I'm obviously psyched about! (We'll see how long that lasst! :D)

Adjusting to a new job, environment, and group of people is never something that comes easily to me, so I was excited when my colleague Mitch reached out about a backpacking weekend he was organizing for all the junior people at my company. I love that so many people in my role (there are about 10 of us) are active and love the outdoors, and it's definitely reassuring that everyone has a genuine bond outside of the office!

Last week, after some very quick agreement on logistics, 7 of us took half a vacation day on Friday afternoon and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Reyes. With my parents' house only 30 minutes away, I had been to Point Reyes numerous times, but still felt fairly unfamiliar with the park; I didn't know the names of any trails or campsites. Luckily, Mitch and my other colleagues had taken care of all that.

We started at the Laguna trailhead. I obviously made sure we got a group photo before we took off.

We took our leisurely time on the 2 miles to Coast Camp, which (obviously) overlooked the ocean, right when the sun was setting. 

I wish we got there a bit earlier to enjoy the sunset, but am glad we at least caught the tail end of it. The thin crescent moon shone brightly in the deep navy and orange sky, complemented by just two white stars (or planets?) and a couple headlamps on the cliff.

DSC_0408.JPG

After filling our stomachs Mitch's surprisingly tasty freeze-dried backpacker meals, which felt somewhat undeserved after the short 2 mile hike in, we sat on the cliff looking at the stars and sharing stories. The chilly air and slight boredom ushered most of us into our tents at an early 9:30 pm, which, as a grandma trapped inside a 24 year old's body, I welcomed eagerly.

The next morning, on the walk down to the bathrooms, I discovered my backpack strewn in the brush 10 feet down from my campsite. After a few seconds of pure confusion, I went to retrieve my backpack and saw, a couple feet beside, a teared-open empty bag of Trader Joe's trail mix, which I had absentmindedly forgotten was stashed in the top pocket of my pack. In my opinion, whatever creature sniffed and opened a sealed bag of trail mix, in addition to unzipping my backpack, deserved the hearty snack it devoured!

DSC_0418.JPG

Anyway. With the daylight, I discovered some pretty cool and creative carvings in our picnic table when we prepared breakfast. 

image.jpg

After satiating ourselves as best we could with instant oatmeal and instant coffee, we set off for our ~8 mile hike. (Oh, and after another group photo!)

DSC_0420.JPG
DSC_0423.JPG

On our way, we made a detour for Sculptured Beach, which sounded promising and did not disappoint!

DSC_0432.JPG
DSC_0431.JPG

My coworker Mitch hijacked my camera and took a really cool shot of Stephen, who is also new at Bridgespan! I think this looks like an epic ad for Nalgene or something :)

DSC_0434.JPG

There were remnants of crabs, mussels, and other sea creatures everywhere. 

DSC_0428.JPG

After enjoying the beach and walking a bit further, I parted ways with my group. My colleagues were headed to Wildcat Camp, but my destination for the day was actually the Laguna trailhead parking lot. I had decided to forego the second night so that I could spend time with my beloved brother Matt, who was visiting from L.A. My plan was to hike about 2-3 miles, turnaround, and hike back to my car, to make an equivalent 8 mile hike for myself.

DSC_0445.JPG

My hike back alone reminded me of my Torres del Paine trek in Patagonia, and I enjoyed the solitude after the past 24 hours of socializing. Without people around to converse with, I noticed all the small beauties on the trail: the wild irises (my mother's favorite flower), the wee little mushrooms, and even a hawk (or other big bird??) perched on a tree.

DSC_0449.JPG
DSC_0448.JPG
DSC_0462.JPG
DSC_0456.JPG

My time in Point Reyes was perfectly balanced; I was able to spend time in nature, time with my new colleagues, and time alone. While I'm glad I got to both partake in the camping trip and see my brother, I do wish I had done the whole weekend (Laguna --> Coast Camp --> Wildcat Camp --> Bear Valley). I heard that Wildcat Camp was particularly incredible, given its cozy spot in a valley on a cliff. I guess I'll just have to go back!