This adventure engagement at Point Reyes was everything I hoped it would be.
(Fair warning: this blog post contains a lot of natural history. We saw so much wildlife it would be a shame not to talk about the ecology of this place…)
Having been raised in Marin County, this park is very close to my heart, and is part of my identity. I love every part of it; the redwoods, the rocky coves, the huge sprawling beach, even the mucky marshes… though I’m pretty sure it’s the seals plopping themselves on the muddy banks that make me tolerate the muck…
The day I spent out there with Annie and Jory was nothing short of magical.
We started the day with a picturesque drive through vibrant green grassland toward the historic Point Reyes Lighthouse. Birds of prey abound along this stretch, and we watched as raptors soared, ever vigilant for dinner (aka unsuspecting rabbits and rodents).
Trees are so sparse in this area that hawks rest on the fencing along the roadway, offering a unique opportunity for up-close viewing of these magnificent avians.
With Annie and Jory, I spotted a Red-Shouldered Hawk on just such a fence post perch. We slowed the car as we passed, taking in his impressive plumage and general big bird beauty and attitude. This was just the first of many amazing wildlife encounters that day.
Our first stop was the iconic cypress tree tunnel. It is a must see spot on any Point Reyes itinerary. Planted over 90 years ago, it is nothing short of otherworldly. It is mature, dark and tangled….the stuff of eerie movie sets!
Further along we spotted a herd of Tule Elk. In the past, these amazing ungulates were abundant in California, but habitat fragmentation and other forms of environmental degradation severely diminished their range. Point Reyes is one of the few places that you can reliably view them.
As is probably apparent, the Point Reyes Tule Elk were part of the inspiration for my business name, “Tule Walks”. The name is twofold really, as Tule refers to both the animal AND the marshy plant that grows in the region. The indigenous people of the land, the Coast Miwok, used the versatile tule plant for multiple purposes. It was a vitally significant plant, culturally.
We then headed out to the Chimney Rock trail. On our drive over, we spotted a pack of four coyotes ambling leisurely about in a little hollow of willow shrubs and tule.
They were clearly unbothered by our presence, as we sat for several minutes watching them sniff and frolic and ignore us. This is precisely why I carry two pairs of binoculars to every adventure elopement or engagement I shoot.
Next, the spectacular Chimney Rock trail. Top ten on my list of favorite California coastline views. Features a sweeping panorama of the Pacific Ocean and its waves crashing against the rocky cliffs and seashore, as well as the much calmer waters of Drakes Bay on the other side of the point.
Point Reyes is a very interesting place biologically, as ocean currents are in constant motion, swirling around and around. This movement keeps runoff from streams and estuaries (and water from the mouth of the San Francisco Bay) close to shore, creating an optimum environ for some ocean ecosystems.
Reaching back and recalling my marine biology classes… minerals, specifically iron, from stream runoff are essential to ocean ecosystem productivity. When there is an abundance of iron flowing into the sea, there is a lot of phytoplankton blooming.
This is the base of the food chain, and its presence allows us to enjoy a plethora of fascinating and fun marine life…. mollusks, whales and seabirds to name a few. There are frequently Puffin sightings at Point Reyes!
We can thank the phytoplankton phenomenon for our next awesome wildlife sighting. ELEPHANT SEALS! My favorite, hands down. They are so goofy and irreverent. It was the height of mating season, so there was quite a lot of… umm… action.
Mostly we heard weird noise. Loud crazy bellowing and farty burbling coming from the beaches below. It was impossible not to grin and giggle, and it made for some fun photos.
A trip to Point Reyes is not complete without a visit to the beach. Point Reyes beach is a unique feature of Northern California’s shoreline, which is largely dominated by small coves and coastal bluffs (which also ain’t bad…).
The beach at Point Reyes, however, is soft sand that stretches for miles and miles and miles. One of my absolute favorite places on the planet.
We were treated to one of the best sunsets I can imagine. The entire sky was painted with hues of pink and oranges, reflecting off the crashing waves. Annie and Jory played some wave tag, and walked along the beach admiring the light show.
I loved watching Jory, an avid surfer, teaching Annie about the waves. I watched from a distance as he pointed to crests and breaks. It was so sweet.
We then all enjoyed a couple of different warming beverages… champagne and hot cocoa. Just sitting and enjoying the amazing colors.
Point Reyes was the perfect location for Annie and Jory’s engagement shoot. Its stunning coastal location offers many activities and opportunities for those seeking an outdoor adventure elopement or engagement. In addition to the beaches and wildlife sightings that framed Annie and Jory’s special day, the park has about 150 miles of hiking and backpacking trails (including the popular Sky Trail with its breathtaking views of the Pacific and its culmination at the spectacular Alamere Falls…a rare “tidefall” that flows directly into the sea), as well as several areas designated for camping (permit required).
Simply stated, Point Reyes National Seashore is an idyllic venue for an adventurous couple’s romantic, memorable elopement or engagement… as Annie and Jory can attest to.
Point Reyes National Seashore is part of the unceded ancestral lands of the Coast Miwok people.