Oceanside Harbor to Carlsbad State Beach

September 16: San Diego County Oceanside Harbor to Carlsbad State Beach. 8 miles

For many of us, today was a day of great disappointment. Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, some 130,000 acres in all, is situated here in northern San Diego County. Its lands run from the sea to many miles inland. It is a vast area with but two routes through it open to the public. The first is I-5, an 8 lane freeway. The second is the Stuart Mesa Road, which parallels the freeway a little bit to the east and which has been used as a bike and pedestrian pathway. That is until 9/11.

In the name of “national security”, all this has now changed. I-5 still slices through the camp; only now along with the cars and trucks, it is used by bicyclists. This is because the bike and pedestrian pathways have been closed. But pedestrians, and that includes the CTE 03, are barred from both avenues. The result of this action is a 9-mile gap in the Coastal Trail. I would suggest (and this is only my personal opinion) that this closure has less to do with security than with the military’s bureaucratic resistance to walkers’ access to the one narrow corridor formerly available. Our being denied access, it would seem stems from a lack of creative dialogue between the parties involved. No solution being required, no solution will be found. My own personal wish is that anyone interested in a California Coastal Trail contact their representative and senators to point out this situation and ask that their good offices be put forward to help find a solution acceptable to all.

Denied access to the base, the day’s walk began at the Oceanside Harbor. Quickly we gained Oceanside Beach, then Buccaneer Beach Park, and made our way to Carlsbad. Here we detoured inland to do a bit of sightseeing. Carlsbad, it turns out, got its start when a local, one John Frazier, drilled several wells for his farm in 1882. One produced mineral water of a similar chemical composition to the baths located in Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad) in what is now the Czech Republic. A hotel was built and people were invited to come to take the waters and spend some money. We left the waters be, but had lunch and visited Carlsbad’s second-hand book store.

We then continued along Carlsbad State Beach, past the entrance to Agua Hedionda Lagoon. Visible on the water’s surface were the tops of pens within which white sea bass are being raised by the Hubble Research Center, a part of SeaWorld.

Then, by promenade and beach, we continued to the end of the day’s walk to our campsite at Carlsbad State Beach.

These small narratives have been primarily descriptions of the walks themselves, what we saw, where we walked; one foot in front of the other kind-of-stuff. They have, of course, been selective in their scope and content. I suspect it would be reasonable to think that anyone reading this log might have other questions about the expedition. Any such should be e-mailed to the address provided, and when the walk is done and I am again in regular e-mail contact with the world, they can and will be answered.

For example, many of our evenings have had a half hour or so set aside for a recitation from the chapters of “California Coast Trails – A Horseback Adventure from Mexico to Oregon in 1911”. This book by J. Smeaton Chase has been re-issued by The Narrative Press of Santa Barbara. Chase is honored in the Sinkyone Wilderness by the J. Smeaton Chase Memorial Redwood Grove as well he should be: his writings of a California that no longer exists are both poetic and inspirational.

On a day with an unconquerable gap, it is well, perhaps, to end with a quote from Chase to remind us what this trip and all of our work is about:

It was a superlative morning, with neither wind nor fog. The first hint of autumn was abroad in some elusive fashion, though in brilliancy the day was more like May than September. The sea was a splendor of deep Mediterranean blue, and broke in such dazzling freshness of white that one might have thought it had been that day created. How amazing it is, that the ancient ocean, with its age-long stain of cities and traffic, toil and blood, can still be so bright, so uncontaminated, so heavenly pure! It seems an intentional parable of Divinity, knowing and receiving all, evil as well as good, yet through some deathless principle itself remaining forever right, strong, and pure, the Unchanging Good. (Jon Breyfogle; photos, Linda Hanes)

Left: As day-leader Steve Kononenko looks on, the walkers return to the beach after a tidal closure of the path forced them to the bluffs. Right: Bike path and beach at Carlsbad State Beach.