Thursday, June 1, 2017

Torrey Pines Natural Reserve: A Lesson in a Hike, Review

As a last salute to my son's homeschool (yes I made a decision, see that post HERE), we set off for our final class hike at the infamous Torrey Pines Natural Reserve. 

To be quite frank I wasn't exactly hyped to go on the hike this morning, but needless to say I put on a smile to trek up the decent sized "mountain". 

Upon arriving, we were given free parking - only because we were with the school - and were immediately gifted the salty scent of an ocean breeze, while being surrounded by a natural beauty that I can only describe as breathtaking. The view can speak for itself as well, but I'm getting ahead of myself. 

The most unique thing about this hike was the simple fact that you could get a nice whiff of the sea as you walk through was closely resembles an eastern mountain side. The best of both worlds with minimal traffic noise. When you're on the actual hike, you don't hear the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing for a tranquil moment of [almost] silence. Besides the cars driving up besides you.

You can choose to either drive up part way and hike the rest or hike up the entire way with your car parked at the lower level, giving you optimal beach access. We as a class chose to hike the whole trip, although I wouldn't recommend it for the faint-hearted of extremely small children. Unless of course you plan on carrying them the rest of the way, which can be dangerous during some parts of the trail. 

My padawan did the whole hike, but that was only because we had a good 30 minute rest while the "ranger" gave us a mini-tour of the exhibit and spoke with us about the animals around. 

Outfit wise, I worse my thrift store Hollister exercise sweatshirt (see HERE), my Victoria Secret leggings - which were gifted to me, my old Nike running shoes, and my new Adidas exercise shirt that I found on my recent Goodwill haul (see HERE). 

Going up the hill was a killer on the quads and I can see how you'd reap benefits from hiking like this on a weekly basis. The scenery was spectacular the entire way up, ranging from gorgeous plants to the ocean peaking out from all angles. I couldn't get enough of this gorgeous view and I will absolutely be returning!

After a good 25 minutes hike, we reached the "top" where the museum and ranger awaited our arrival. 

At the top there were benches covered with canopies, surrounded by a view that I simply can't explain. Turn to the left and you'll see the edge of the ocean as far as your eyes can see. Turn to the right and you'll see the city where everything looks so minuet. 

Everyone in our group then gathered around on the benches, to see a presentation of sorts about whales, dolphins, and learned about what exactly a "torrey pine" is. The very professional ranger even passed around baleen whale's "teeth" (baleen plate). Extremely informative and entertaining.

Let me say that every singles staff member that we've come across and every single employee/volunteer that works at Torrey Pines Natural Reserve deserves an award of excellence for their observation skills, their friendliness, their professionalism, and their ability to teach about the park in an engaging manner. The entire experience was something I'd highly recommend for any family or group!

Inside the museum, they had numerous artifacts that showed the animals that naturally co-existed in the surrounding area, along with bones from the animals that live in the ocean. 

Once the tour and presentation was over, we headed out to finish the hike, which took us slightly upwards, then down a slippery pathway that had been affected by the "recent" rains, only to end up at the beach.

I will say that as a first time on this hike, if I hadn't had a guide I truly do think I would've been lost. It's slightly confusing to the point that you wouldn't think to continue forward past a certain point, out of fear that you would only be straying further from your car. Luckily there are numerous people around that look like they knew what they were doing, so worse case scenario you look like a tourist to the locals, but in all honesty I wouldn't care. If I was lost, I'd get myself out of there no matter what people thought.

The scenery was again gorgeous, just slightly slippery so if you partake in this adventurous "tour", I suggest proceeding with caution. 

The end brought us to a semi-secluded section of the beach, covered in rocks of all shapes and sizes. I could see how the tide would affect your ability to venture on this part of the beach, but luckily today the tide was low, making for a perfect scene to walk.

Once at the beach, it was a straight shot to the other end (perhaps a 7 minutes walk), making it easy to get back to our car.
While the entire journey was stupendous and the scene was beyond beautiful, it's something I could never do again without packing lunch or at least a snack. Which I didn't, but I should have. I can tell you, I have never been so happy to get back to my car today. Immediately we headed home to wash off and eat something delicious.
In the end we had a great day with awesome families. We will definitely miss our charter/homeschool, but I think this was an excellent end to a wonderful beginning. Now we are off to prepare for regular school and a new life! Regarding the hike and tour, I highly recommend and I will return to this natural beauty for a picnic or a day-getaway.

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