Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today was one of those days you're just happy to be alive ! Warm, sunny, slight breeze and the smell of Redwoods in the air. We left early this morning to head over to the coast and see the small hamlet of Shelter Cove. When the planners in California envisioned travel from the south to the north, they thought Hwy 1 would run right along the coast all the way to Oregon. Well, just north of Leggett they found they had a problem. The coast was so remote and challenging they ended up discarding the idea of continuing Hwy 1 and instead settled on Hwy 101. Shelter Cove sits north of the terminus of Hwy 1 and is accessible by way of a narrow, winding, up and down road. It starts just outside Garberville and heads westward through Redway and over to the coast. It is home to Black Sand Beach, the relocated Cape Mendocino Lighthouse and it's own airport. Although the road was challenging at times, the views were spectacular. It was an awesome day...!

The King Range starts just outside Redway, and is one of the most rugged and remote areas of the California coast.

The road begins in the Redwood forest and winds, twists and turns up and over the King Range mountains and descends downward into Shelter Cove.

As the road climbs over the pass, you're greeted with spectacular scenery. They get snow here in the winter...

Once you crest the mountain range, the road descends towards the Pacific Ocean. This picture was taken just as we began our descent.

As you arrive near the bottom of the mountain, Shelter Cove comes into view. Here you can see the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse in the middle of the picture. There is a campground across the street from the lighthouse, but it is geared towards smaller rigs as ours would not meet the criteria for the road into this area as we are 65' long with the car in tow.

This is part of Shelter Cove itself. This part of the Cove was rocky and filled with seals, seal pups and sea lions. With it being low tide, the tide pools here were abundant with sea life.
Here is the Cape Mendocino lighthouse. Originally on a hill, almost 35 miles north of Shelter Cove, it was in danger of being destroyed after it was decommissioned. Left to Mother Nature after being abandoned, high surf, earthquakes and brutal storms threatened to pull the lighthouse into the sea. Through efforts of "Save the Lighthouses" group, it was decided to try to move the lighthouse to Shelter Cove. The GSA offered the lighthouse free, to anyone who would move it from it's location on the coast.

Moving the lighthouse was no easy task. With the help of a National Guard helicopter, the top was removed and transported to Shelter Cove. Every portion of the remaining structure was then marked, categorized, disassembled and transported to Shelter Cove. The entire assembly was then repainted and reassembled on site. Here we are looking out one of the portholes inside the tower portion of the lighthouse.

At the north end of Shelter Cove lies Black Sand Beach. It is named after the black sand and smooth rocks that makes up the beach. The sand is coarser than regular sand and serves as a polisher for the many rocks and stones on the beach. Of the top 10 Black Sand beaches in the world, 7 are in Hawaii. This beach ranks number 5 for it's remoteness and beauty.

We were alone on this wonderful beach. We found many interesting stones, what appears to be a tusk and some interesting shells here. After several hours, we decided it was time to head back home. Jasmine enjoyed the surf although it was much greater than any we experienced in Oregon or Washington. The offshore reefs here produce consistent waves with winter waves much larger than those in the summer.

For the ending to this day, I thought I would include a couple surf pictures. The top one shows some of the nice waves that consistently hit this beach. Perfect for surf boards, wake boards or boogie boards. The water was very warm. The bottom picture was taken further down the beach and shows many of the rocks that have been polished by the wave action and the black sand.

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