Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hitch #3: Piedras Blancas Lighthouse

It would be hard to find back to back hitches that could be as opposite as these last two.

Hitch 2
Elevation: 5000 ft.
Climate: dry, desert
Work: strenuous - hauling heavy rocks
Accommodations: tent/sleeping bag

Hitch 3
Elevation: sea level
Climate: humid, ocean
Work: easy - pulling plants/roots, raking dirt
Accommodations: beach house with the first bed I've slept in in two months

Fortunately, our location for hitch three had equally as beautiful scenery as hitch two. After all we stayed in a beach house on a peninsula with a lighthouse. How many houses have you stayed in where walking out both the front and back door gives you a view of the ocean? Have you ever had elephant seals living on the beach 40 yards from your bedroom window? It was awesome.

On top of Piedras Blancas lighthouse looking north.

The lighthouse and surrounding area is currently undergoing restoration to become a historical site open for the public. For a history about the site including invasive plant removal and native plant restoration check out this BLM site. Our job was to create parts of a developed trail accessible to wheel chairs. This basically means that the trail can only be so steep and required flat rest areas.

Our work was made easier because Jim, the caretaker and lighthouse keeper, already marked out the trail for us. We also had the use of mechanized vehicles to get and spread the decomposed granite as well as level the trail.

We ate good meals and watched a movie each night. It was pretty cushy. Next hitch we'll be backpacking again in the Santa Rosa mountains where it might snow. Yikes!

Piedras Blancas lighthouse viewed from the coast (I enhanced the purple sky using software)

One of the Piedras Blancas ("white rocks") at the tip of the peninsula. It is typically covered with hundreds of pelicans and other birds as well as seals and sea otters.

This is a portion of the trail we worked on. It was covered in the woolly yarrow plant you see on each side. In the distance is the house we stayed in.

Young elephant seals on the beach close to the house. The adults that are closer to 14-16 ft. long won't be around till December.

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