Day 100: 54th Place and Ocean to Magnolia and PCH

September 10: Los Angeles and Orange Counties Day 100: 54th Place and Ocean to Magnolia and PCH. 13.5 miles

We were out of our camp by about 6:30 AM because we had to have the tents down before the day-use people at Bolsa Chica State Beach came in to use it, and because Ginny was so excited to have us on her “home turf” that she was jumping up and down with excitement. We went back into 2nd Street in Long Beach for our breakfast. Carol Gregurek, Ginny’s mom was there dispensing muffins and croissant sandwiches out of her car next to a handy Peet’s coffee shop with excellent coffee, recommended by Ginny, to wake us up.

Then we began the day’s walk. Leaders for the day were George and Sandra Pace; George has been a part of Coastwalk’s coastal trail mapping project. On and off during the course of the walk, we had day hikers coming and going: Diane Schmitt, Barbara Herr, Jack McCue, David Mueller and his parents, Joan Kennedy and Tom Andrusky. At first we meandered about Alamitos Bay on city streets and walkways, then crossed the San Gabriel River into Orange County. Here we either followed the beach or walked the pathway along Seal Beach. One of the beach side homes here, owned by Tom Corrigan, sported a wonderful front vegetable garden complete with bananas. We left with cucumbers and bananas for our lunch. We had to then go around the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, traveling on the PCH, and while we went by Surfside Beach, a private enclave with a guard at the gate who assured us that we were not allowed access to the wet sand. Later in the day we were told by locals that this is false; that there is supposed to be public access to the wet sand.

Through Sunset Beach, some of us utilized the wet sand at the water’s edge, some a pathway wandering down a median strip in North Pacific. After lunch and a short talk at the interpretive center of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve given by Vic Liepzig, we entered the reserve. We walked on levees through the reserve and learned that state bond money is available and will be used to open an outlet to the ocean at the southern end of this wetlands, allowing it to achieve a more natural state. That work should be completed in about two years time.

We then walked, again either on the beach or along a bluff-top path, the length of Bolsa Chica State Beach to the Huntington Beach Pier, there to be met by Cathy Green, Mayor Pro Tem of Huntington Beach. From there we continued along the beach to the intersection of Magnolia and PCH. (Note from Linda: this is a very long beach! It’s about 8 ½ or 9 miles long, altogether, with homes set back off the sand, and a huge new hotel back across the street with a walkway to the beach crossing above the street. There is one hotel, however, right down on the sand. If you look at photos of Huntington Beach from the air, it sticks out into the sand like a big white sore thumb. I can see why Huntington Beach is a destination resort; the beach is beautiful. As we walked along, we overheard a passerby on the passenger/bike path talking into his cell phone, “It’s beautiful and warm and the sand is beautiful and the water is so blue here. I don’t know why the h*** we are still in (supply an inland city name) instead of living here.”)

Factoids from a Huntington Beach lifeguard: For 3 ½ miles of beach surrounding the pier there were 16 million visitors and 2,800 rescues last year. A new facility is being built on the beach for their very active (1,000 kids this summer) junior lifeguard program. Right next to it will be a new central lifeguard facility. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)

Left: Bolsa Chica channel. Right: Jon holds Corrigan’s homegrown bananas.