Backpacking the Beautiful Point Reyes

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go with an outdoors club on my university’s campus to the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore in Northern California. One of my good gal pals has a leadership position in the club, and suggested that myself and some other friends go on the trip. Even with very little backpacking experience, I was up for the challenge and wanted to get away for the weekend.

Bleary-eyed at 6 AM when I woke up on Saturday morning, I thought how nice it would be to lay in bed for a few more hours. But then I thought about all of the college debauchery my roommates would be engaging in that weekend and how I so did not want to be a part of it – and I basically ran into my car and threw my backpack in.

A brisk two hour’s drive north of Santa Clara University, Point Reyes lies in Marin County – a wealthy and beautiful area of Northern California. Marin County is incredibly expansive and has a vast area of protected coastline. Driving in, we all remarked how the area didn’t look like the California we have become so accustomed to – or at least the Silicon Valley. Bays, lagoons, and ocean views dotted the landscape making the drive go by even faster.

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Once our larger group arrived to the trailhead, we set on our way. The first time I went backpacking last summer, I swore that I wouldn’t bring so much the next time; however, my backpack was weighed down by the sheer amount of snacks and wardrobe changes I decided to bring. Beach weather is unpredictable, right?

We hiked along the coastline and through the trees to the beautiful Alamere Falls, which is a waterfall that feeds right into the ocean. Talk about amazing! After a lunch up on the bluff overlooking the ocean, we scrambled down to the ocean to get a better look at the waterfall.

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At the falls, we found several people relaxing and picnicking. It was the perfect day, with the sun shining and a slight breeze blowing!

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Shortly after our exploration to the falls, we made our way to the Wildcat Campground, where we made our camp for the night. The campground was equipped with a rather gross toilet (but a toilet nonetheless!) and featured beachfront views.

That night, our group sat on the beach for a couple of hours and shared stories while watching the sunset. The sunset was gorgeous and was the perfect cap on our day.

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After a delicious dinner, we shared all kinds of stories around the picnic benches – some more embarrassing than others – and really got to know one another. Although my friends and I on the trip are Seniors, many people on the trip were Freshmen and Sophomores, and it was great to get to know them!

In the morning on our way out, we hiked along the beach for a couple of miles to get back to the falls. Although it was difficult walking with the heavy backpacks through the sand, the views were absolutely incredible!

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As soon as I knew it, we were done and back at the car! Although it was a short few days, I had the most amazing time on this trip! I got closer with my friends, made new ones, and didn’t have to worry about the stresses of work or school. Not having cell phone service was actually amazing because I had no idea what was happening back at home.

To cap off the awesome weekend, we stopped at one of my favorite cities in Marin County – Stinson Beach. I’ve had a soft spot for Stinson Beach ever since high school and love coming there. It’s a small, cutesy little town that offers little boutique shops, restaurants, surf shops, and yoga studios. Luckily, we stopped here for lunch and munched on delicious hamburgers and ice cream cones.

If you haven’t been to Point Reyes – or, rather, Marin County – I 100% suggest you check it out, especially if you’re from the greater Bay Area! It makes for a bit of a longer day trip, so spending the night would be ideal. The views are absolutely out-of-this world and it truly feels like you are in another planet. You can either day hike to any of the greater hiking trails in Mt. Tam State Park, visit Alamere Falls, or spend some time in lovely Stinson Beach! Either way, you can’t go wrong!

Winter Wonderland at Lake TwentyTwo

I just came back from a lovely trip to Seattle, Washington a few weeks ago (more on that later!) and one of the highlights of the week was an awesome hike to Lake 22. Whenever I go to a new place, I think that going on a hike is always a great way to explore the landscape and get a feel for what everything’s about. So, after consuming an absurd amount of food in the prior days and feeling like we needed some exercise, my friends and I made the trip out to Lake 22, which lies about a 45-minute/1 hour drive away from Seattle.

After a quick Starbucks run, we began the drive out! Breakfast sandwiches in hand, we marveled at the awesome scenery that greeted us on the way. It seemed to be a very typical Seattle-esque winter day – somewhat dreary, foggy, and drizzly. However, it seemed almost magical as we drove through the forest. Arriving at the trailhead, we were impressed with how well the signage was, despite supposedly being closed for the season.

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Lake 22 Trailhead Marker

Despite chilly temperatures, my friends and I jumped out of the car ready to go! Everything was incredibly well-marked and the trail was maintained – there was no way you could get lost. As we climbed in elevation, it became more snowy and icy, causing us to slip and slide all over the place. If you go during inclement weather, I’d highly recommend bringing a pair of spikes/crampons because the ice became too slippery to walk on the way up!

After nearly 3 miles of slipping and sliding, the arrived at the lake! It was one of those views that you can’t really see until you turn a corner, and boy were we in shock! It absolutely looked like a postcard of some sort of Bob Ross winter painting. We could even hear huge chunks of snow and rock falling in the distance amidst an otherwise absolute silence. It reminded me of almost a grander version of Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana.

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Luckily, there was a little trail that went around the lake that we got to explore. We saw the lake from nearly every angle and took tons of photos! Since there was nearly no one around us, I had to dig out a section of snow to prop my phone up to take a photo of all three of us! We spent nearly an hour at the lake taking in all of the gorgeous scenery before heading down.

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For those looking for something outdoorsy to do in Seattle that’s not too far away – I would highly recommend this hike! It was around 5 or 6 miles round trip and not too strenuous if you have the proper footwear. However, I would not bring kids or animals in the winter due to the huge amounts of snow and ice. It was quintessentially PNW and I hope to come back in the summer – I’m sure it looks a whole lot different!

Do you have any favorite winter hikes in the Seattle area? Let me know in the comments!