14 June 2012

Carpinteria Bluffs


Locate the trailhead.

Disappointed with Toro Canyon for being exactly what a reasonable person with the information I had would expect it to be, and not a way into Oil Canyon, I went down to the bluffs. Below the bluffs, the tar seeps out onto the sand and hardens. I parked in the dirt lot between two people enjoying the area by sitting in their cars talking on their phones. I headed west toward a farm on the end, then turned to cross the tracks at get to the cliffs. I stopped for more drawing on the clifftop, then took the old road down to the beach. A sign marked the beach to the west, where the seeps are, as closed for the harbor seals, but also said that closure ended with May. More pressingly, the tide seemed to be coming in and some of the points of rock were getting washed by the higher waves. With a little timing, I made it to the seeps.

thick oil flowing slowly down the rocks
Oil hardening into tar on the rocks it seeped out of. When it is warm, it flows, but today is overcast.

a thick layer of tar on the beach
The tar gets over everything.

wave splashing on rocks as it rolls in
A look at the always moving ocean.

small arch in the cliffside
One of the oddities of erosion.

big float among many small ones
The bladder of a bull kelp found among some of the much smaller local kelp.

tar from a seep encasing stones
One of the ways to make a bigger rock from a smaller rock.

noisy bird
This one was peeping out an alarm cry to alert all to my presence. It didn't seem to be much heeded.

harbor seals on the beach
Whoops, the seals are still here.

Then coming around one of those rock points, I saw a whole lot of large mammals lounging around on the beach. Since the seals were still here, I turned back and made my way back past all the tar seeps and back up the cliff. It's also illegal to "disturb" the seals, and if you do it right, the I'm sure the seals will show you why it's good sense to leave them alone. Continuing along the cliff, I found the overlook where humans may watch the antics of the seals on the beach below. I sat and sketched some more because I'd wanted to do more in my watercolor book and the varied harbor seals seemed like reasonable subjects.

harbor seals on the beach
A few seals, lounging on all sides, while the ones closest to the water try to keep their flippers and noses out of the lapping waves.

seal in the water
Every once in a while, a seal would leave or come in, presumably from finding some nibbles.

cormorants grooming and sleeping beside the seals
The cormorants seemed very relaxed around the seals since this was also the only place to find them on the beach.

lots of seals
For a moment they seem to be all looking at me.

Finally leaving the seals alone, I walked on along the blufftop trails to the east until it ended. There is a bathroom and sports field there, but not much walking. I spotted a few others out enjoying the day while I was there. Then I walked back.

four paragliders in the sky over the freeway, train tracks, and cliff
The freeway and train tracks and cliffs and the paragliders that flirt with it all. That's quite a number of them floating through the air today.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 15 Jun 2012

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