by Janet Koed
New Year’s Day revealed some interesting secrets on the Gaviota Coast. We knew the tide would be exceptionally low and the beach trek from Gaviota State Park to Hollister Ranch would probably be possible. I had never done this walk. The official guided hike was cancelled because of the new covid uprising.
While New Year’s Eve offered up small craft warnings, January 1st presented Gaviota with sunshine and very calm waters. Several of us couldn’t resist the opportunity to explore this place in a short window of time. We were not disappointed. A turn-around time was agreed on and we took off. Some launched off to see how far they could get, others traipsed at a slower pace stopping to observe details. I’m pretty sure we all got our feet wet at the first rocky outcrop. We realized the importance of returning before the tide rose too high, risking more than wet pant legs.
Once around the first obstacle, the beach opened up and the walk was easy with smooth sand. I passed up the geology buffs who were admiring textures, synclines and anticlines. The colorful treasures of marine life impressed me to my core. Giant anemones reminded me of some characters in an alien Star Wars movie set. I had recently seen some sea stars out at Santa Cruz Island but nothing like the abundance in these tidal pools. Memories of of my childhood flooded me. We used to find fish, crabs and octopuses along with the muscles, anemones and starfish (as we used to call them). Higher tides and naturally-limited access seems to provide some of the elements these near-shore creatures need for a healthy existence.
This New Year experience reinforced my belief that this very special Gaviota Coast must be protected from excessive and inappropriate development. Some places even need to be kept somewhat secluded and difficult to access. Trips like this can teach us what a healthy environment looks like. Nature deserves a chance to survive. What do we humans (also part of nature) want the future to look like?