by Sally Berry
It had been many months since my last visit to this area on the Gaviota coast. My past life of wondering about and traveling slowed down during the 2020 pandemic closures. By early spring, I wanted to get back to exploring farther away from my local beach and up the coast to Gaviota. Unfortunately, the tides did not cooperate with my plans. To walk this rocky beach area of Gaviota in pre-dawn light, I needed a very low tide in order to get around the larger rock structures. Low tides in the early dawn hours were scarce for a long time.
Finally, early spring brought some beautiful low tides right at sunrise. I took this opportunity to get back up the coast once again and enjoy the Gaviota coast before sunrise. I am not one that will wonder in dark unfamiliar places by myself, especially tidal beach with crashing waves and large rocks. So I recruited my one of my willing daughters to share my adventure, even if it meant waking up before the birds.
On a dark cool morning, we drove up the dark coast to a quiet area where we could park. Hiking toward the beach, we carefully watched our step in the darkness with our headlamps lighting the way. We came to a clearing as the moonlit sky guided us the rest of the way down to the beach without our lamps. The calm sound of the waves slowing drew us to the beach, open sand and rocks.
Stepping on to the sand, we continued west where the rock formations grew larger as did the waves … careful to keep eyes on the rogue waves or unknown rocks sneaking in on us. At times, we stood quietly alone to breathe in the energy that we felt from the ocean waves and the shadowy rocks in the moonlight. Neither one of us spoke… we did not have to to communicate this awesome moonlit morning. We were able to explore for different luminous sea anemones, sea stars and other creatures latched on the rocks. We were careful to not disturb their habitat. I am only beginning to learn different species, habitats and plant and animal behavior in these special coastal places. Sometimes, we just gazed at the magic of the moment. I love to look up at the ocean and sky to view the ever changing colors and composition. I had fun with my camera while my daughter continued to explore. She is more curious and able to find some interesting moving creatures and nature on the rocks and sand.
After a few hours of exploring, we could see the sun peer over the horizon, just about the time that the tides encouraged us to wonder back to our starting point. We skittered in and out through the openings in the rocks while dodging the larger surges. We carefully timed our retreat to prevent collisions and finally back to start. Only then did we start to see a few fishermen start their day.
More low tides will come and I will return!