California Wildlife

You know how at some trailheads you see signs warning you of wildlife? In Canada and the Colorado Rockies there were always bear warnings but I've never actually come across a bear. So, I started to take these signs a bit less seriously and when I saw a sign warning hikers of possible encounters with mountain lions in Andrew Molera State Park I merely acknowledged it before I started with my hike.

After crossing a very cold creek I had to hike a short path through the trees before getting to the panorama trail along the ridge. I was just getting into a good rhythm when I heard a rustling in the trees next to me. I stopped to listen. More rustling and then suddenly a big animal jumps into the middle of the path. For a short moment I thought "mountain lion!" but then I saw it was only a deer passing though I had to laugh. I got scared by a deer and there's tons of them around there!

I then continued on the hike, enjoyed the views of the coast and the Big Sur mountains, spent a nice lunch break at the beach (without swimming as the water is freezing) and then headed back towards the trail camp where my tent was set up.

As I'm coming down the trail I get to a fork and decide to take a right turn. Wrong decision (or right decision if you like scary excitement)! As soon as I got around the corner I see a large animal walking towards me. It's only a few meters away and a beige color. At first, I think it's a coyote but then I realize it moves more like a cat and that's when it hits me: "A mountain lion!". This time for real! My heart starts pounding like crazy and I start to quietly backtrack my steps thinking all the time "Please don't attack me, please don't attack me!" Obviously, I got out fine once I took the other path at the fork. It was exciting to see a real wild mountain lion but you definitely don't want to get too close to those kind of animals...

view of Pico Blanco from Molera State Park
top of Pico Blanco (finally!)
beach time :)

After spending a few days in the Big Sur region, hiking and camping I made my way back to the Sierra Nevada for a visit to the mother of all national parks: Yosemite. Although there wasn't really any snow in the park yet, it was already set to winter mode. This meant that some roads were closed and several trailheads inaccessible. As far as day hikes go, the Panorama Trail from Glacier Point to Nevada Falls is probably the most scenic (unless you actually hike/climb up Half Dome) and it was on my list for the day. However, since the road to Glacier Point was closed I had to hike up to Glacier Point first on the 4 1/2 Mile Trail. It's a shorter but steep trail with a million switchbacks (after a while just seeing another bend in the trail drives you nuts!) and it added quite a bit of hiking time but the views from Glacier Point and the Panorama Trail were absolutely worth the effort.
Since the park was surprisingly quiet and not many people were on the trails, I also came across three bears on my hike. Black Bears who looked more brown than black... :)

view of Half Dome from 4 1/2 mile trail
view of Yosemite valley from Nevada Falls
bear encounter :)
Glacier Point headstand
Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
Half Dome from Glacier Point
Glacier Point
view from Panorama Trail
sign for John Muir trail

I ended my California adventure at Point Reyes National Seashore with more camping, hiking and kayaking. I saw harbor seals, all kinds of sea birds and a large group of Tule Elk. California has definitely been good on me with its wildlife... :D

Tule Elk 
Point Reyes


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