March 15, 2011 - San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve squeezes itself directly between Solana Beach to the south, and Cardiff By the Sea to the north.
Today Wilson and I confined our hike within the boundaries created by Interstate 5 and Highway 101, though a large portion of the reserve actually lies in the area to the east of 5.
We began our walk on the southwest side of the lagoon where we parked at the end of Rio Street. Wilson acknowledged, unfazed, the familiar snakes & ticks warnings as we strode east on the pleasant path.
San Elijo Lagoon is among the way too few wetland areas surviving the onslaught of human progress. Unfortunately this lagoon didn't survive unscathed. In the 1880's when trains came along so did a raised levee which greatly diminished the lagoon's access to the ocean. Still, with over 270 species of birds sighted in this area, San Elijo is a hotspot for bird fanatics.
For the most part our walk took us away from the lagoon on a trail named after Gemma Parks, a local environmental activist.
We enjoyed stopping at this very nice stone bench commemorating Gemma's contributions. It was a great place to sit and look back out over the lagoon.
The trail kept leading south, slightly upward into Holmwood Canyon.
Eventually, running into a street at the top of the hill, we stopped, took in the view, and doubled back down the same trail...
...returning to the main path we started on, and continued to head east.
I was not expecting the forested area that began to surround us.
Wilson urged me... no, actually, he begged me, to bend the rules by ignoring the Keep Out - Unstable Cliffs Signs here. Half way through my lecture on safety and the need to adhere to warning signs along any trail, he begged me to "please stop with the lecture and just keep on walking," which I did.
Along the way we met this friendly, yet seemingly protective hawk.
When Interstate 5 brought our eastward trek to a halt we decided to head back and find a trail closer to the water.
At a split in the trail we naturally veered to the north in the direction of the lagoon.
And we're walking, and we're walking and...
Whoa! What the heck do we have here? Zoom in please!
Now I have to share with you that Wilson has a bad habit of poking at things he finds on the trail. Fortunately, my fail-safe emergency alert system kicked in before he could engage in such unadviseable nonsense:
Phew, close call! I'm not sure, but that was probably a rare and extremely deadly trail serpent! Either that, or a friendly gopher snake. If you know, please clue me in.
Now one of the things high on my list of things I enjoy about hiking is meeting fellow nature lovers on the trail. Today we met one such gentleman, George, a longtime native of this region. An avid birder, who now lives in Idlewild, he shared that this lagoon was a sanctuary for he and his wife to get away from it all. I can see why.
When we made it back to our starting point we still had a lot of leg left in us so we went ahead and tromped down the westerly portion of the trail.
The trail soon bent northward, paralleling the train tracks, heading in the direction of the Nature Center that George told us about.
As the Nature Center came into view it appeared that it was...
a) very far away, and
b) possibly inaccessible from here. Therefore, we declared our hike complete and stode back to our car.
Big smiles filled our faces as we passed by several signs acknowledging local students' involvement in helping to improve the "state of the habitat" here.
Another Great Hike!