Wildlife Encounter

Authored By Brian

You go, girl!

Modeling at the exotic summit of the Mt. Ellen Summit Trail

My sexy modeling of the Mt. Ellen Trail summit in Memorial Park.  Watch out Tyra!

Jennifer and I needed a break so I planned an overnight camping trip in Memorial Park near Woodside, CA based on the recommendation from a friend. We drove down Highway 1 to Martin’s Beach Sunday with Togo’s sandwiches to lounge around and throw a frisbee. Martin’s Beach is a private beach just south of Half Moon Bay. There was surprisingly no wind which made the mid-70s temperatures feel more like mid-80s.

After walking to the far end of the beach and watching the few surfers try to catch a break, we caught a glimpse of two dolphins swimming about 50 yards off shore. They lazily went back and forth and popped out of the water every minute or so for around a half hour. They were close enough that we could hear them blowing air out of their blowholes and some Flipper-like chatter. Just as we walked back and grabbed our camera, they disappeared for good. This was hardly the end of our mammal companionship for the weekend.

After striking out for firewood in San Gregorio (but listening to some fun live music and checking out their Americana-stocked shelves of trinkets), my truck suffered a weird brake failure coasting downhill on Highway 1. I pulled over and was able to diagnose that the ABS pump or relay had somehow failed so popping out a fuse left us with a couple of warning lights lit up and no ABS but otherwise back on the road. We picked up our wood in Half Moon Bay and made like babies and headed out as the sun was starting to get lower in the sky. The road to Memorial park is crazy windy and it was only a couple of minutes until it felt like we could have been anywhere in California; far, far away from the urban Bay Area.

We drove around the campground a couple of times looking for a good spot. There are a couple hundred campsites, most of which were blocked off and unavailable, and only a small handful of people there on a Sunday night. That seemed great…

With the waning daylight, we set up our tent first and then got around to the fire and food. I am sad to say that although I had the fire going, I killed it trying to get some briquets going as well and Jennifer had to salvage it. My manhood was also thrown in the fire, charred and left useless. We did however eat and it was all going so well…

Until out of the corner of my eye I see what looks like a cat but it’s a giant, and I mean, GIANT, raccoon! And it’s about 5 feet away, eye-balling the picnic table and our food. I chased him off and figured that would be the end of our friend but just minutes later he was back and even closer and after shushing him off, I turned around and the latern light fell on two of his buddies who were sneaking up behind me. That kind of made me nervous. It’s one thing fighting a single piggy raccoon without opposable thumbs and it’s another thing duking it out in team sports. Although this would have posed no issue for Mike Ditka, we were staying vigilant.

After another couple of close encounters including the raccoon on the picnic table, I chucked a big piece of firewood and nearly cold-cocked him in the head. That seemed to change their opinion and they headed off into the darkness towards the creek running down below. Maybe 5 minutes later as Jennifer and I are sitting at the fire, we hear what sounds like howling banshees; the sound of animals fighting. It might have been my imagination, but I thought I heard a cat’s growl (like a mountain lion or bobcat, which are common in the area) as part of the fighting and we decided it was time to retreat to my truck.

After a five-minute thumb sucking timeout, the ruckus had stopped and we headed back to the fire and resumed our dinner (walking on tip-toes until we thought the coast was clear). Perhaps not so surprisingly, no more raccoons for the rest of the night.

We slept, we woke, we went hiking. That’s where the picture came from. We debated which plants were poison oak and which were posers. We were obviously the first people to hike the trail that morning because every bloody spider in the area had put a spider web across the trail and in our path. I skillfully let Jennifer set the pace most of the morning like the gentleman I am. :)

The drive home was uneventful and we still have all of our extremeties despite our brush with near-certain death. At least that’s how I’m justifying hiding in the truck.

Thanks to Brett for the recommendation; it’s really an amazing place and can be reached in about 60 minutes from San Francisco taking 280S and then 84W onto Pescadero Creek Road. I’m sure it would have a different feel if all 150+ camp sites were full with screaming kids but that might be the perfect raccoon deterrent.

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