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Night Hike in Point Reyes

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Night Hike

The days in San Francisco had been hot to cloudy, to hot again. I was tired of the stop lights, the people, and the smells. I needed to get away, but I didn’t want to waste my time away from the City.

So I booked a bed at the hostel at Point Reyes, and that’s where I would spend the next 3 days.

From the ocean, to the bay’s, to the beaches, to the Estero’s, to the cliffs, to the lakes, to the lagoons, and to the forest, Point Reyes is a wilderness. It is however locked in by an ocean and roads, so eventually I believe you’d run into either if you ever got lost.

I discovered Point Reyes over 10 years ago while on a day trip with my partner. She showed me Point Reyes, she knew that land could be my equal. She told me “You’re going to love this place!” And she was right.

I go to Point Reyes at least 6 times a year. I have reported on, through my citizen journalism the plight of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, which is now shut down. But I used to go there, on each visit and buy and eat raw oysters. It used to be a real treat.

Limantour Spit Point Reyes

There are many hiking options in Point Reyes, but my newly discovered best hikes are at night. I’ve done night hiking before in the Point Reyes wilderness, but never an 11 mile one.

Time was slowly ticking by, I’m at the hostel in Point Reyes, and I got a small nap before 11pm, so I was sort of rested. I was still not 100% re-hydrated from the hike onto Limantour Spit from earlier that day. But I had plenty of fluids, and I had some food and some energy chews.

I was nervous, I felt my first sense of apprehension, and questioned myself. Am I being stupid? Is this immature and thus too dangerous? I wasn’t sure, all I knew is that I had to do it. I had to night hike 11 miles through the Point Reyes wilderness by myself. I wasn’t prepared with my cameras because I was a bit nervous, but I did have on my GoPro and I took my Canon DSLR. I had a 170 lumen headlamp and a 120 lumen handheld flash light. I also had a strobe light, and I had glow sticks. I had a knife and pepper spray. I put on insect repellant and taped up my pants leg.

…..Wow, I was scared.

I got on the trail around 11:30pm, there was nothing on the roadway leading to the path.

It was quiet, foggy, cloudy, and drizzly, but not too cold.

No sounds, just quietness, until I got to the trail head. As soon as I stepped two feet past the trail head, the sounds, those sounds, they came on strong, no fade in, sounds you’d expect to hear from a wilderness. I stopped, listened, gasped. Then I just did it, I put one foot in front of the other, and soon I was committed to that trail at night. I had 11 miles to go.

I kept taking breaths, until I became aware, there were beings around me. Lots of them. Black hulks moving around me, away from me and some towards me. Then I felt something cover my face, something thread like and popping like strings when they break. Then I felt crawling, something was on my face, they just kept coming at me until I STOPPED. When I started walking again they threads kept hitting me in my face. I then realized I was walking through spider webs. Webs so big they crossed a 5 foot wide trail. I felt things crawling on my face, but I wiped it off and came up with a plan. I picked up a loose branch and used it to knock down any webs that are ahead. It worked for a while. I was now second guessing my hike. Shall I retreat or shall I go forward?

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Spider Webs.

I once again put one foot in front of the other and was now hiking again. I kept beating down the webs. Then I heard a buzzing sound like bees only louder, I could see bugs, but how? It was foggy. I just kept moving forward. The buzzing grew louder as I walked on then suddenly about 60 feet later the buzzing stopped. I froze, and when I looked around with my light, I noticed everything was a big hulking black mass. Some moving, some not. That’s when I got my first adrenaline rush, I knew something was watching me, there had to be an animal out here.

After about a mile I stopped for a minute, to think about where I was? I saw shiny things on the ground, it was pitch black, but the things I saw, shined in the light of my flashlight. So I decided to sit. Going through my backpack looking for some food, I heard rustling, thumping, stomping then a yipe, then a growl, then a yipe, then a growl, I looked up, 4 dogs(first thought’s in my mind), actually Coyotes were looking at me, I saw teeth, heard growls, so I got up, and f_ckin ran, down a hill, stepping on Coyote scat, amongst gopher holes, sink holes, uneven terrain, lots of scat, down a hill, in the dark, scared, unknowing, until I slammed into a white gate?

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The White Gate at Night

I then felt safer, but I learned the shiny things on the ground were bones.

I entered through the white gate, but up ahead was another large black mass, three of them to be exact. I stepped slowly, step by step one foot in front of the other. Keep in mind it is pitch black, and I was learning that my eyes had a difficult time focusing between super bright flashlights to the darkness, so I decided to keep walking without the lights off. I had only hiked 3 miles thus far and had 8 more to go.

The sounds, oh those sounds, so close and in stereo? The Coyote yelps, barks, and howls were in stereo. I knew I was surrounded by Coyotes, and now and then I would see them run off the path in front of me into the bushes. The bushes I had been walking along side. Every now and then I would hear a growl, but I felt the Coyotes were more afraid of me than I was them.

At this point in my hike I could hear the Tule elk. If you have never heard the sound of the Tule elk you could assume there are children screaming in the wilderness. Every now and then their calls can be horse like. Tule elk will keep themselves at least a 100 feet from people, unless you happen to walk up on them.

I kept walking, but I now realized I am going to have to go around the three large black masses that were up ahead of me. Yup, there were 3 cows in the pitch black that I had to reckon with. They did not like seeing me out there in the dark on their trail, but they had the trail blocked.

I stopped, strategized and made my move, I walked right through the 3 cows, and they didn’t even care. So now I had a long walk ahead of me, I was on the Estero trail in Point Reyes, and I was hell bent on making it to Drakes Head. So I walked and walked and walked and I started sweating, and it was colder out, so I bundled up.

One hour later I made it to Drakes Head, but I couldn’t see a thing because it was very dark, cloudy or foggy. I could see whimpers of light coming from the lifeboat station in Drakes Bay.

So I sat for a minute ate some food and started walking again. It was now 2:30a.m. And I realized that maybe I can make it back before first light. I started walking again, but this time off trail a bit. 15 minutes later, something started jumping on me and hitting my pants legs, and of course I freaked out, but when I turned on my lights I noticed there were hundreds of grasshoppers all around me. So I went back on the trail. 30 minutes later I realized the area I was in was really warm, and humid. I never figured that out, suddenly I was walking along and it’s nighttime in an area known for fog and changing weather patterns, but the area was really warm.

I continued on, the sounds really started scaring me, so I stopped messed around with my cameras a bit, and kept on going.

I was now off Drakes Head and walking along feeling kind of weird, but then suddenly 3 large black masses walked in front of me, going downhill, missing me by mere feet, they stirred up dust and they all screamed. I then concluded I almost got run over by Tule elk. They didn’t know I was there and vice versa. They kept going downhill and I kept walking straight ahead.

About 30 minutes later on the path in front of me I saw a low lying animal I thought it was a raccoon, but it was much more aggressive than a raccoon, and ran towards me for a second until I turned on my lights. Skunk? Oh crap, a skunk, a really large skunk. It ran towards me until I retreated about a ¼ mile. I waited a minute then proceeded to walk again in the same direction. The skunk was gone, but not it’s smell.

I was now in an area that flanks an Estero, a path with large bushes, shrubbery or undergrowth that towers over a person. Spider webs were in abundance, and I was starting to itch.

During the last 4.7 mile stretch I saw animals on the path in front of me and I could tell there are animals all around me. I guess I was never a threat to them because not one animal came after me. They were all tolerant.

I kept walking, the noises on all sides of me were intimidating. They would have scared the toughest person on the planet. You don’t know if you’re going to be attacked and you don’t know if something will jump on me.

Hiking at night is very surreal experience. I do not recommend it for people who get scared easily and or have bad hearts. Hiking during the day, you have a huge safety zone, you can see things coming, and or going, you can identify other beings easily, and you can always see where you’re going. But hiking at night the only safety zone is your immediate area. I like to hike at night for the challenge, but it is not for everyone.

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Plants, rocks, bones, and some fencing glow at night.

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Trail signs at night

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Surrounded by Coyotes

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Imagine this; your photographing birds high in the tree’s, suddenly you hear sirens, then suddenly howls, and yelps, and you look around and suddenly realize your also surrounded by Coyotes. They were running circles around me tonight. Never felt scared even though they tried to scare me. So if you click the link you can hear the sounds.

“Project Coyote” speech and presentation at the Presidio Officers Club.

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Coyotes are in our midst, they are in urban parks, they are in our neighborhoods, and sightings and encounters are more prevalent as ever. Coyotes are often misunderstood, and they are often shot mercilessly in the name of protecting livestock and pets. Coyotes inhabit many areas in San Francisco including Bernal Heights, Twin Peaks, Golden Gate Park, the
Presidio, and the Lincoln Park area. When people spot them their are often two reactions,scared or interested.

The Presidio Officers club is hosting a weekly speaker series called the Presidio Dialogues, and a non profit called “Project Coyote” was invited to speak at that event on November 6th, 2014. Project Coyote is “based in Northern California, and they work to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other native carnivores by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation.” The speaker Camilla H. Fox, MA has over 15 years experience in leadership positions at the “Animal Protection Institute, FurBearer Defenders, and Rainforest Action Network.” She has “spearheaded
campaigns aimed at protecting native carnivores and fostering humane and ecologically sound solutions to human-wildlife
conflicts.” Project Coyote in essence educates and promotes coexistence with Coyotes and other Canids instead of the alternate which is hunting and killing them. Coyotes are apex predators, which means their presence in our communities is important to the balance of nature.

At least 55 people attended the speech and presentation, and the audience in general are very accepting of Coyotes. The presentation included sights and sounds of Coyotes via a slide show, and when the Coyote sounds played the audience loved it. Other highlights included ways to scare off Coyotes and ways to defend yourself from a Coyote. Coexistence was the main theme of the speech, and livestock owners are the targets of that concept because it is alleged that Coyotes kill livestock, or at least taunt them until they are injured and then become more vulnerable to an attack. Livestock owners
sometimes support Coyote killing contests. Project Coyote gives livestock owners ideas on how to coexist with Coyotes, and some of those ideas include bringing on livestock guardian dogs, or even raising llamas alongside their stock. Llama’s do not like any kind of dog and will run off a Coyote. Fox says people can create shaker cans, or carry walking sticks, or even use water to scare off Coyotes.

Coyote sightings in Golden Gate Park.

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The tide has turned in Golden Gate Park when it comes to Coyote sightings, and encounters. I can walk along certain paths, then I stop listen and look and now more often than not the Coyotes are watching me and stalking me. They are not threatened by me because they look at me for extended periods of time, and then they move on or get closer.

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The yearling or juvenile Coyote watching me in the photos are one of the pups in one of the photos from a year ago.

How to scare off a Coyote.

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It is now common knowledge that two Coyotes are living in Golden Gate Park. I have been photographing that same Coyote couple since last year, but this year their den is closer to human foot and bicycle traffic. While hanging out near their den, and photographing them this year, I noticed that many people are scared of them. The male Coyote is now performing his role as the male parent, in other words he is protecting his den, which means that either the female had pups or pups are on the way.
If you are a scared of a Coyote simply follow the steps below to warn them off.

If a Coyote is Close By

  1. Look at the coyote while slowly backing away. Maintain eye contact. Coyotes are generally frightened of people and will not confront you.
  2. Make yourself as large and imposing-looking as possible. This can be achieved by holding your backpack above your head or opening up your jacket.
  3. Shout or yell to frighten the coyote. Keep making noise.

  4. Stomp your feet loudly and continuously.If you Encounter a Pack of Coyotes Nearby
    Coyotes are known to live in a pack, so be careful.[1]
    1. Do not approach a pack.
      • Give them ample space.
    2. Don’t stare at any of the coyotes or act threatening toward them.
    3. Most coyotes prefer to avoid human contact, so follow the above instructions make lots of noise.
      • Once coyotes become aware of a human presence, they will probably avoid you.

      If a Coyote is Far Away

      Be vigilant with your children and pets. Make sure they don’t get too close, since they can be drawn towards animals.

    Tips

    • If you are camping with a pet, keep them somewhere where they can’t easily escape. It may attract wild animals like coyotes.
    • Don’t keep any food inside a the tent as this attracts wild animals. Make sure that you hang all your food in a tree or keep it in a place far from your camp. This includes strong smelling “non-food” items such as toothpaste, deodorant and soap.
    • If you get bitten by a coyote, seek medical attention right away!

    Warnings

    • Never run from a coyote. It can run much faster than you.
    • Never try to feed a coyote. Feeding wild animals is illegal in the U.S. and Canada, and could result in injury if the animal were to bite you.
    • Coyotes often attack humans to protect their pup’s lives. Take care not to go too close to a coyote pup.
    • Never let your child or pet interact with a coyote!

Coyotes of Golden Gate Park Year 2

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Year two of my coverage of the Coyotes in Golden Gate Park.

Since I am photographing those Coyotes I feel obligated to say a few things; 1.) Please leash your pet dogs unless they are in dog playing areas.
2.) If you see a Coyote and are scared simply stomp your feet raise your arms and make yourself look bigger than them and they will run away. Please do not throw anything at them and please do not feed them.

Flickr Set here with fresh pics. http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebelgirl/sets/72157629918572669/

 

Coyote Killing Contest Must be Stopped.

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I had the pleasure of photographing Coyotes in an urban park during the summer of 2012, and additionally I had the pleasure of photographing young Coyote pups growing up. Here is a photo set, http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebelgirl/sets/72157629918572669/
It is my opinion they are amazing animals that deserve protection and admiration, and should not be the victims of a shooting contest. Which leads me to this:

Coyote Drive 2013 is on. That means hundreds of Coyotes can be killed during this contest in the name of managing “coyote populations in the Big Valley area.”

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Coyote Adult

 

 

 

 

This is what the hunters will be shooting.

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By shooting the adults hunter’s may leave pups without their parents.

 

The Pit River Rod and Gun Club has planned a Coyote killing contest in Modoc County California on February 8-10th. The link to their contest page is here http://www.adinsupply.com/coyote%20drive.htm
It is common knowledge that hunters rarely can tell the difference between a wolf and a Coyote and it is common knowledge that OR-7 aka Journey has been roaming the areas in Northern California. Journey is that lone wolf that has been a media sensation. And even though California Governor Jerry Brown has signed AB2402, which requires that the California Fish and Game use “ecosystem based management” and the best available science in the stewardship of California’s wildlife,” this contest is going to happen.

UNLESS: see below

What you can do:

Write or email the California Department of Fish & Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham and the California Fish & Game Commission and urge them to stop this coyote hunt. See contact info. and talking points below.
Sign our petition on Change.org and share this with others.
Attend the California Fish & Game Commission meeting on February 6th and testify during the public comment period (using talking points below).
What: California Fish & Game Commission meeting
When: Wed. Feb. 6th @ 8:30 am (public comment period starts at 8:30 sharp so get there early to fill out a speaker card and find a seat)
Where: Resources Bldg., First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento

Draft letter here:
Director Charlton H. Bonham
California Department of Fish & Wildlife
1416 Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
director [at] wildlife.ca.gov

California Fish & Game Commission
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1320
Sacramento, CA 95814
fgc [at] fgc.ca.gov

Dear Director Bonham & Commissioners

My name is ____________________ and I live in _____________________, California. [Include a one-sentence description of your experience with wildlife]

I am writing to strongly oppose California’s sanctioning of wildlife killing contests – in particular the upcoming “Coyote Drive 2013” scheduled for Feb. 8-10 in Adin. Not only are such contest hunts offensive in their wanton waste of wildlife and disregard for the important ecological role coyotes (and other predators) play in maintaining ecosystem health and species diversity but they also pose a significant threat to the recovery of gray wolves in California. This region is where wolf OR-7 (aka “Journey”) has been known to range and while DFW staff have expressed their concerns for the safety of OR-7 (and any other un-collared wolves that may roam the area), this contest hunt continues year after year.

It is time that the Department of Fish and Wildlife conduct a top-to-bottom evaluation of its approach to managing predators in California, including a review of current scientific literature and of proven practices that may be more likely to yield better outcomes for wildlife, other animals and people. Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation (AB 2402) requiring the agency to use “ecosystem based management” and the best science in its stewardship of California’s wildlife.

Please do everything in your power to stop this coyote killing contest hunt and use this as an opportunity to move California toward more responsible and ethical wildlife management.

Thank you for taking my concerns into consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

 

 

Source of info http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/567808/72472514ab/1557763851/e5973503c6/

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