Sunday, April 06, 2014

Low Tide Walk

We did get to take a low-tide walk while we were in Capitola. It is one of our most favorite things to do. We knew we were lucky that our visit coincided with even this minimal -0.2 tide. That was enough to get us out there and walking. I found the below photo online that shows you an aerial view what the beach typically looks like.
The cliff face above the bay
If you click on it, you'll see why this stretch of beach is really only accessible at minus tides. The path from Capitola Beach heading south east has a sign warning walkers not to go this way. It's dangerous for so many reasons. The cliff is literally crumbling into the sea. But it is such an enlightening beach to walk to see the fossil layers in those cliffs, we always take our chances. We also always hope there won't be an earthquake while we're out there. That would be the absolute end of the bums.
How the cliff face crumbles (with Roger doing size perspective!)
This is what the debris looks like after a bit of crumbling. I wrote about it here, when I took this photo in 2009. But when we have a chance to see the beautiful cliff walls, we just can't stay away.
The stratified layers on the cliff face
On our most recent walk, the tide was not nearly as far out as it is in the above photo (taken in December 2008), but it was out enough to let us take a look around. The sand was so high there were no tide pools visible. None of our favorite fossils could be seen in the big rocks strewn about the beach. But we did get a good look at how much erosion is happening here at the top of the cliff.
Backyard cliff face erosion
If you click on the photo, you'll see the fence that probably wasn't always suspended over space like that. It's an interesting view of the ongoing erosion here. I look at the light pole just a few feet away and know its fate. Just hope that there isn't someone down below when that thing comes down. Who ever expects to get hit by a light pole when they're out taking a nice walk on a beautiful beach? Certainly not us.


  1. I'll bet the view from the top of the cliff is magnificent, but I don't think I would want a house there.

  2. Those apartments on Grand will not be there in 50 years either! Like the march of time, the sea is relentless.

  3. I too enjoy walks along the tideline. We only have a short stretch of real cliffs along the East Anglian coast and it's eroding in the same fashion. Despite the huge boulders that lie scattered on the beach families still sit there picnicking. I wonder does it ever occurs to them where the rocks have come from?

  4. Just beautiful if a wee bit scary. The size of that rock is alarming. I often kayak past large cliffs with huge boulders in the water and hope my karma is on the plus side.

  5. Mark-- It's true the view from that cliff is grand. Your comment reminded me that the first time I lived in Capitola in 1975 it was in a grand old resort (and at the time a hippie enclave) on that cliff. Here's a link to the old place:
    It's all going to fall into the ocean at some point. One good earthquake will rearrange everything.

    lindaj-- There really is no stopping the erosion of that cliff. I know many people would like to try, but that's not going to happen.

    John-- We think of those fallen rocks and cliffs every time we walk there. We understand the risk, but I think most of the people we see are clueless.

    Arkansas Patti-- We have seen some of the best fossils on this walk. Beautiful and scary, and we hope our karma is on the plus side too!

  6. This post made me think of the old El Salto? resort in Capitola. friends lived there long ago... it too is perched precariously on crumbling cliffs. Glad you had some good beach time.

  7. Annie-- I lived in the old El Salto Resort in 1975-77. It was an amazingly grand place to be back then. Makes me wonder when your friends were there. It's a big-time resort now, all fancied up and everything.

  8. WOW!
    Your beach is SO different (geomorphologically) than ours!

  9. What a great place to walk. Although one of you needs to look for fossils and the other watch the cliffs for falling debris.

  10. RPowers-- It's pretty wild, isn't it? A lot of geological activity going on here and subduction zones. The fossil layers are such a grand view of time.

    NCmountainwoman-- It really is quite a nice, albeit a bit spooky, walk. We love it. We do take turns enjoying the view and keeping our eyes on the tide and the cliff.

  11. Enjoyed the walk. What fossils?

  12. John-- There are fossils all over this walk between Capitola Beach and New Brighton Beach. Here's a link to an old post we did years ago:
    The cliff face itself is beautifully stratified with bone and shell, layer after layer. It's quite a sight.
    If you google fossil cliff Capitola, you will see some wonderful images.

  13. Your photos of the coast and the ocean are always a pleasure to see. Who knows when I will ever see them again in person. Thank you for including the aerial view of the cliffs.

  14. Live dangerously, kids. And send us the photos!! I know how much you love the minus tide walks, and it makes me happy to know you were able to get out there. Love the photo of the fence hanging out over the cliff. No doubt about its future.

  15. am-- We can't wait to move back to the coast. It will probably be Humboldt County. We just love being by the ocean. Glad you liked the pics.

    Tara-- We do live dangerously, don't we! We are coastal kids. It's in our hearts to be there.

  16. T'would be wonderful to take that walk in your company! Thanks for bringing me along by proxy!


  17. How I would love to be able to see that and explore a bit.
    I love places like that.

    P.S. In reference to your comment, I should have mentioned that Blond Goddess and her husband had to drive 6 hours 1 way to get here. Their visit was the reason for the meet-up, and I am so glad they came.

  18. alan-- It is a wonderful walk. So glad we could share it with you, even if it is by proxy!

    kenju-- It really is quite a place to explore. We have always loved it.
    Six hours is a long time to drive, but it sounds like it was worth the journey. Very nice!

  19. I've spent quite a bit of time in that area and I never knew anything about the fossils. Considering the time frame, I'm surprised I even remember being there...
    I'm going to put it on my "do and see" list.

  20. Pat-- Absolutely take this walk. It's not very far at all, and it is so worth it. Make sure you check the tide table and plan for a good minus tide trip. Hopefully, the sands will have shifted again and the fossils in the rocks on the beach will be visible. I can't wait to see what you find and photograph.