Crystal Cove Historical District to “The Pilgrim” at Dana Point Harbor

September 12, Orange County Crystal Cove Historical District to “The Pilgrim” at Dana Point Harbor. 14.9 miles

Today the Paces again led and we were joined by day walkers Al Seib and Lorraine Hornby. The walk started out along the beach in Crystal Cove State Park and along Morro Beach, but any illusions that this was to be a day devoted to the beach were quickly dispelled as we rose to the highway. This would be the pattern for the day: small stretches of beach (pocket beaches) were broken up with stretches walked on busy, four-lane Highway One or on city streets. Sometimes this was because the tides were out of sync with our walk and rocky points that could be traversed at a low tide were impassable for us. But all too often we were stymied by private lands and gated communities in which homes were built out to the bluff edge. (Editors note: 4 1/2-mile long Crystal Cove State Park contains just about the last piece of beach with contiguous intact coastal sage scrub terrace in Orange County. Inland,  the Laguna Canyon Foundation and Laguna Greenbelt have worked to save the hills above Laguna Beach for open space) The character of Orange County has completely changed. The first days were in almost totally flat terrain. Comment on one of those days was made of the “mesas” the first of which was so low you could probably reach the top by standing on tip toe. Here in the Laguna region the San Joaquin Hills come down to the sea creating tall bluffs dotted with picturesque pocket beaches of golden sand. Our first views of Laguna Beach revealed a most Mediterranean scene. Stately residences cover the hills sloping down into the sea. One of the hikers, Janette Heartwood, lives here and gave us a tour of the town, taking us to her home as well as to the site of the Pageant Of The Masters. Here, on stage, the world’s masterpiece paintings are recreated using actors, or at least people who can stand very still for extended periods of time. Judging from the size of the complex devoted to this inactivity it must be very popular. It was also here in Laguna Beach that we met and were joined for a short while by Beto Bedolfe, Executive Director of the Homeland Foundation, an environmental group.
South of Laguna Beach we continued on as before with beach walking interspersed with road walking. Our walking day ended at the berth of “The Pilgrim”, a reconstruction of the ship Richard Henry Dana immortalized in “Two Years Before The Mast”. Mr. Dana would be surprised to see his old ship resting here but even more surprised at the scene about him: at the time of his visit 170 years ago this was all vacant land, the only people about were Spanish missionaries raising cattle, and his ship mates engaged in the hide trade. (Editors note: the native American population had been largely decimated by this time). Here they would toss the dried hides off the bluff top to the waiting boats below, a kind of bovine Frisbee operation.  

Through the good work of Expedition member Helene Baouendi we were served dinner by The Fountains, a corporation based in Arizona which owns and manages 19 retirement facilities in 13 states. Helene lives in one such in the San Diego area. Here at Dana Point their facility is known as The Fountains at Sea Bluffs. June Hussey, Vice President for Public Relations, greeted us upon our arrival and made sure we had an excellent time during our visit. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)  

Left: Approaching Dana Point from Salt Creek Beach
Right: Hiester Park in Laguna Beach