Hiking the Morro Bay Sand Spit in the Fog

I’ve been wanting to hike the Morro Bay Sand Spit, so this afternoon I made the short drive to Montana de Oro State Park in Los Osos. The Morro Bay Sand Spit hosts the Morro Dunes Natural Preserve. To hike out and back on the spit is about a 9 mile trip. I parked at the end of Sand Spit Road.

The forecast for Morro Bay was partly sunny, so even though a pea soup fog enveloped the coast when I arrived I was hoping the fog and clouds would clear in the later afternoon.

A sign near the beach warns visitors to watch out for explosives. The threat of military munitions might help to keep people off the restricted sections of the sand dunes.

Enjoy the beach (and watch out for explosives).

Enjoy the beach (and watch out for explosives).

Near the parking lot I saw a lizard sunning on a fence rail. I am amused by lizard feet.

A lizard on a fence rail.

A lizard on a fence rail.

As I got closer to the water the impressive thundering of the surf rose and visibility fell. Several people were frolicking on the beach. I turned right and headed for the end of the sand spit.

Walking to the water, visibility falling.

Walking to the water, visibility falling.

Soon I was very alone. This hike feels very isolated and even more so when the fog is thick, though I did have thousands of birds to keep me company. I like the curlews and godwits (and maybe even some dowitchers?) that forage in the surf. The godwit in the picture below is walking along with its beak rapidly going up and down in the sand like a sewing machine needle.

Birds in the surf.

Birds in the surf.

From time to time I would turn around and marvel at the low visibility as the beach disappeared behind me. Once when I tuned to do this I detected shapes in the fog.

Riders in the fog.

Riders in the fog.

This group of horses and riders never caught up to me. I saw tracks in the sand that alerted me to the fact that a group of riders was in front of me too. I caught them.

More beach riders.

More beach riders.

All this equine traffic on the beach left a lot of prints. You hear about footprints in the sand, there is even a poem about them, but hoofprints in the sand are not as common or celebrated.

Hoofprints in the sand.

Hoofprints in the sand.

As I walked I was trying to picture a map of the coast in my mind. I was looking for Morro Rock in the fog. Suddenly it loomed before me. It appeared so quickly through the fog and was so large it made my knees feel weak for a second. The picture below fails to capture its size and impact.

Morro Rock in the fog.

Morro Rock in the fog.

I walked around the top of the sand spit through the Morro Dunes. I saw people out kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and sailing in the bay.

Morro Bay on a foggy day.

Morro Bay on a foggy day.

A boat on the bay.

A boat on the bay.

When I made the turn to the other side of the sand spit the sound of barking seals was very noticeable. All the barking could be traced to one row of seals.

Seals at Morro Bay.

Seals at Morro Bay.

In addition to the bird species I had already seen during my hike there were brown pelicans at the bay. I like how the pelicans crash land in the water. They look so graceful as they fly, then hit the water with a mighty splash. I found one pelican that seemed to want to be photographed.

A brown pelican at Morro Bay.

A brown pelican at Morro Bay.

After spending some time at the top of the sand spit I retraced my steps back to my car.

During my hike the fog never cleared. It was still a good hike, but I’d like to try it again on a clear day.

Hiking in sand takes a toll. I really felt those 9 miles, but when I got back to the pavement after hours on the sand I felt like walking was too easy.

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1 Comment

Filed under General

One response to “Hiking the Morro Bay Sand Spit in the Fog

  1. Russell

    Great! Next time I’m in Morro Bay, I’ll hike the sandspit. Thanks!

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