Park Ridge Trail, Morro Bay State Park

Over the shoulder of the town of Los Osos is the Pacific Ocean. Shielded by a sand spit, Los Osos hides from that deceptive and ill-named body of water that is not peaceful even when it appears calm, as today. I walk at low tide east from the Pacific and watch the ocean’s fingers snake their way to the back of Morro Bay until the sand sucks out the sea water and becomes a soupy mess. It pulls your shoes off if you venture out in a kayak at the wrong time of the tidal day and need to step out to unstick your ride.

But today, as I walk away from the coast, away from home, I head toward Morro Bay State Park’s Park Ridge Trail. It’s nice to watch the ocean from a distance. The walking path rises and falls around a hill that gives a magnificent view of the saltwater marsh in the shallow end of the bay.

Imperfect wildflowers lay along the path and up the hillside. Taller than me, the golden yarrow shines bright and the tiny baby blue eyes brush my boots. The plants are vivid today, but remind me that the wildflower season is almost past. Cow parsnip, morning glory, sticky monkey flower, milk thistle and purple salsify are saying their goodbyes.

The hills today still carry the mist from the coast, making the air mild and my cheeks refreshed. The sun here is powerful and insistent, but waved away by the breeze. A green blush on the hillside won’t be there next time I walk this path. Even today, just one or two weeks since the last rain, the hills are streaked with golden. A change is coming about from this winter’s 3-D green. The waving ends of aging grass and flowers sway over the crest of the hill, a springtime pastel against the blue of a balmy sky.

I walk on a path that has been visited recently by a run of bicycles and many feet. A diligent maintenance crew has kept the main paths broad. Smaller, happenstance cutaways lead to places I didn’t prepare to see today. Most are made by adventurous hikers who know the area better than I. Once I get past the first hill, I realize how broad and expansive is this parkland. There are a dozen break-off paths, some posting legitimate signs: Quarry Trail, Crespi Trail, Chumash Trail. The named trails are blazed by the park maintenance crews, but many others are side-lined single walking jaunts that lure me to break the rules. But I know it’s best in all ways to stay on the cleared paths. Safer for me and safer for the creatures who live here on the hillside.

I see some of these: little rabbits, a couple quails, a buzzard flying above. I hear others:  a scampering away as I turn a bend, a swish around a tall bush, several bird voices I can’t identify. I also see many off-shoots of trails that these creatures have made, so small I am not even tempted to change my route. Running under, next to and through thorny vegetation, they seem to head toward a cleft of water that I hear but can’t see.

Since moving to this area, I have been so entertained by the sea: the constant sound, the soothing beach sand, the shallow tides I can slip my toes into every day year-round. I have been facing west for five years, in wonderment at this ocean home. Happily today, I am discovering a walking buffet east of my house. I can’t wait for my next ramble through these coastal hills, and wonder why my feet have been so long in walking this way.

Please join the Monday Walk with RestlessJo and friends:

Jo’s Monday walk

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17 thoughts on “Park Ridge Trail, Morro Bay State Park

  1. What a magical piece of prose, Susan. I’m in your footsteps every second of the way (well, except for those naughty few times that I trip off… just to see where it goes 🙂 ). I love this piece. It has so much of the same elements that make me love my wild Algarve. Thank you for doing me the honour.

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      1. We had a wonderful day yesterday, blue skies and sunshine but being England back to grey today!!! Still at least it means I can work in greenhouse today without melting 😉

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    1. Thanks so much, Hugh. Mother nature gets the credit 🙂 This place continues to give me visual gifts each day (and then, there is the perfect weather also.) I could complain about a bit of wind, but that’s just me getting spoiled. – Susan

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  2. Your Spring green fades into Summer’s dry colors… We commented yesterday, that our bright-green of Spring leaves emmerging has just turned to the dark green of Summer forest. Time to get diligent about weeding the garden before the wild things take over. – Cuz O

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  3. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Sitio das Fontes | restlessjo

  4. Loved this post, Susan and I felt like I was a virtual hiker alongside you. I could easily imagine the ocean glittering in the distance, the feel of the path under my feet, the warmth of the sun … You describe a timeless place – where the moment is now and all your senses are fully engaged. It’s not hard to see that you love where you are and appreciate and enjoy your home and its surroundings!

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  5. How wonderful you have the option to walk east as well…to the hills. Such a beautiful description of your surroundings that I felt I was right there…a very pleasant walk!

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