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Point Reyes National Seashore

Arriving early into San Francisco, and with meetings not starting until tomorrow, I took advantage of the afternoon and evening to shoot McClures Beach at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Only I did not plan very well for the hike.

Point Reyes National Seashore is an exceptionally large area — over 70,000 acres. As you can see from the map below, it is a big place. I had a specific location in mind, which was good, except that it turned out to be near the northernmost tip of the area. Almost a 40-minute drive from the Bear Valley Visitor Center.

Point Reyes Map

Let’s go back for a moment. I am staying at the Sofitel San Francisco. A very nice hotel in Redwood City, just south of San Francisco. I had arranged for a rental car to be dropped off at the hotel for 12 noon. I was scheduled to fly in at 11am and I allowed for some time to deplane, gather luggage and get to the hotel.

Everything was fine. The plane arrived slightly ahead of schedule. Unlike the typical 45-minute wait at Toronto Pearson to get luggage, my bag was on the carousel within minutes. Beautiful sun and warm weather. Nice limo ride to the hotel. Room ready. Car arrived on time.

For whatever reason, the rental company had not filled the tank with gas. It was running about a quarter of a tank. No problem, I thought, I will fill the tank when I get to the Point Reyes area. My plan was to drive along Highway 1 — the coastal highway — until Point Reyes.

There are no gas stations up there. None. I arrived at Point Reyes at 3pm. Sunset was at 6pm. But I knew that I did not have enough gas to get to the northernmost tip of the park and get back to San Francisco. I had to drive another hour round trip to find a gas station. By this point, I was panicking. I know, I know. Typical perfectionist response. However, in this case, it was because I did not know how long it would take to physically get to McClures Beach. Having traveled this far, it would be extremely disappointing to miss the best light of the day.

I found a gas station in Fairfax. Made it back to Point Reyes by 4pm. And, with a bit of risky driving, made it to the point in 30 minutes as opposed to 40 minutes.

It is about a mile or so from the parking area to get to the prime shooting area of McClures Beach. I did not have my hiking boots. I forgot water. I forgot my flashlight — a flashlight comes in handy when you are hiking back from a strange area in the dark. I did not have appropriate clothing and I was drenched in sweat from the hike. And, when evening descended, I was shivering cold from the ocean wind and spray.

Aside from all of that, the area was fantastic and worth the six hours of driving. Here are a couple of frames from Point Reyes.

PR 4

PR 2

PR1

PR 5