PUBLISHED ARTICLES ABOUT SLOW ADVENTURE

Here’s a wonderful article with great photos that gives you a look at all our trips and special walks.

Read the latest article about our Walk The Bay trip in the American Way Magazine, the in-flight magazine of American Airlines.

We were thrilled to see founder and owner of Slow Adventure, Margaret Leonard, featured in the local newspaper, The Santa Cruz Sentinel.  Click here to enjoy this article.

San Francisco Chronicle Article, June 12, 2011|By Jill K. Robinson

A solitary coastal trek along Monterey Bay

4-day walk from Santa Cruz to Monterey offers welcome respite

The marine haze blocked my sight of Monterey from where I stood near the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I traced the path on the map I held in my hand.

“Just keep the ocean on your right,” chuckled Margaret Leonard, my guide for the four-day, 40-mile walk along the Monterey Bay coastline.

Easy enough. Just 40 miles to go.

I’d signed up for a Slow Adventure – a self-guided inn-to-inn walk that runs from Santa Cruz to Monterey, crossing 15 state parks, beaches and refuges along the route. My husband would be my only company aside from the abundant shorebirds, seals and otters we’d encounter along the way.

But we weren’t left completely alone. Margaret planned the route, provided historic notes, arranged the lodging, shuttled our luggage and included our lunches – leaving us free to enjoy the scenery.

The Monterey Bay region is popular with visitors, though not many have immersed themselves in the remote natural coastline beyond an afternoon at the beach.

The coast is close enough to nearby lodging, restaurants and shops, but the line of bluffs and dunes provides a buffer that can allow you to walk all day on the beach without encountering another person.

Daily sounds are limited to birdsong, the crash of waves, the hiss of the surf as it runs up the beach and the crunch of your footsteps in the sand.

The easiest day

The first day, from Santa Cruz to Aptos, was the easiest. We walked along sidewalks until descending a staircase to New Brighton State Beach. It was low tide, and it was easy to walk on the wide strip of sand near the water’s edge.

Along the way, we crossed paths with a handful of people walking their dogs. As we got closer to Aptos and our first night’s lodging, that number dwindled to a couple of fishermen quietly watching their lines in the surf.

In the evenings, when we temporarily halted our walk to relax at a coastal inn, the views out the window served as a reminder that we weren’t far from the beach. Surprisingly, even though we enjoyed dinners and breakfasts in “civilization,” the peace of the day’s trek along the bay followed us.

Each day’s varied sights made it easy to get motivated in the morning about the path ahead. We walked past piers, dunes, wetlands, a sand factory and two rivers – the Pajaro and the Salinas. In the summer, when most people take the Walk the Bay trips, both waterways often don’t connect to the bay. In our case, the rivers were full from spring storms.

Margaret to the rescue

Margaret appeared as if from nowhere, through a clearing in the dunes, to watch us safely cross. We quickly removed our shoes and socks, tucked everything into our daypacks and waded through the mouth of the Pajaro River. The water reached only to our knees. Piece of cake.

Not so with the Salinas River the next day. We arrived two hours before low tide, so we wandered around the edges of the dunes, ate lunch and stuck sticks in the sand to measure how quickly the water was receding.

An hour after low tide, the river looked fairly manageable, except every few minutes a large wave would wash up the river, adding 2 to 3 feet of depth to the water. We didn’t want to be out there when that happened.

A quick cell-phone call to Margaret solved the problem. She arrived shortly afterward and drove us around the river so we could continue on our way.

Between Moss Landing and Marina, our only company was shorebirds. Sanderlings scooted with their windup-toy-like legs away from the waves, around us and then back to the receding tide line.

Marbled godwits and long-billed curlews joined them on the beach, while black surf scoters bobbed in rafts just beyond the waves. I freed my feet from tennis-shoe confinement and stopped looking at my watch to see if we were on time. Time didn’t matter anymore.

An hour after low tide, the river looked fairly manageable, except every few minutes a large wave would wash up the river, adding 2 to 3 feet of depth to the water. We didn’t want to be out there when that happened.

A quick cell-phone call to Margaret solved the problem. She arrived shortly afterward and drove us around the river so we could continue on our way.

Between Moss Landing and Marina, our only company was shorebirds. Sanderlings scooted with their windup-toy-like legs away from the waves, around us and then back to the receding tide line.

Marbled godwits and long-billed curlews joined them on the beach, while black surf scoters bobbed in rafts just beyond the waves. I freed my feet from tennis-shoe confinement and stopped looking at my watch to see if we were on time. Time didn’t matter anymore.

Nearing Monterey

On the last day, the morning hours were dedicated to walking between the water and mountainous sand dunes – surrounded by picture-perfect views. I spotted footprints in the sand, but didn’t see the person who left them.

In the distance, Monterey slowly came into focus: the waterfront, the piers and the hotels. After seeing nobody all morning, the beach ahead of us became dotted with people, like a pointillist painting.

Though I felt accomplished at completing the four-day trek, the presence of crowds reminded me that I was also finished with those quiet moments on the beach. As we neared Fisherman’s Wharf, I wanted to turn around and do it all again.

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Weekend Walk Feature, by Geri Migielicz

I’ve taken countless strolls on the beaches in the twenty plus years I’ve lived in Santa Cruz County, but I did not appreciate nor truly understand the Monterey Bay until I walked the 40 miles of its beaches from Santa Cruz to Monterey.

This is a walk, timed for low tides, that transports you from bluff to dune, from surfer’s paradise and the screams of the Boardwalk to the solitude of nothing but the surf and your feet upon miles of untracked sands. You have choices: turn on your 3G phone and you are in constant touch with the world, flip it off and you are practically alone in this universe, save for your companions and a perch fisherman or two.

You can walk this trip inn to inn on your own, but I booked with Slow Adventure to go the pampered route, complete with bag lunches, mapped out routes, and luggage transport. After years of experience leading walks in the area, Margaret Leonard has put together a self-guided tour with detailed route maps, historic notes and tips about the marine mammals, birds and flora you may encounter.

All of the accommodations are excellent; with Santa Cruz’s Dream Inn setting a standard with meals and a restful bed that match its view of the wharf, Boardwalk and beaches. We had a delightful fire pit on the beach, complete with s’mores at Seascape Beach ResortThe Captain’s Inn features a 1906-vintage main house and views of the marsh and dunes at Moss Landing, a charming fishing village. Full spa services are available at theSanctuary Beach Resort.

Walkers have to negotiate crossing the mouths of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers. Slow Adventure takes the potential danger and discomfort out of these traverses. The depth of the rivers at the ocean can vary wildly depending on tide, winds, rainfall and water district diversions. Slow Adventure provides an auto shuttle if these crossings are too deep or treacherous.

A bit of pampering is deserved, as the further south you go, the more challenging the walking becomes. The stroll is easy where the sand is packed, (and so people are packed on these beaches) but as you walk with dunes skirting your route, the soft sand forms rolling terrain that requires significant legwork. My group collected some blisters and aches along with pocketfuls of polished beach glass. One the final leg of the trip, Slow Adventure gives you some paved options if you need relief from the sand.

But it is what I saw on the trip that was a revelation:

·      Killer whales off Seacliff State Beach

·      Nearly 40 species of birds

·      Sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions and river otters

·      Beached fishing floats from China, Norway, Korea and Japan (the gyre collects and deposits flotsam and jetsam)

·      Traversing more than a dozen California State Beaches

Making this trek on consecutive days gives a sense of immersion that you can’t get any other way. The experience has a way of revealing little secrets, about one’s self and of this beautiful swath of golden sand along the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

 

Santa Cruz Sentinel Article, by Claudia Sternbach

04/11/2010 01:30:11 AM PDT

Almost three decades ago, Michael and I lived on the Yucatan Peninsula. Depending on which door one went out in the morning, you would be greeted by a dense tangle of jungle or the curve of the bay. We had hammocks strung on the water side of the house, where we would rock for hours reading in the shade.

It was in this place, with the sounds of brightly colored birds squawking and gray-green iguanas skittering across the rocks, where I read a book about a young man who had walked the coastline years before. Gazing out at the brilliant blue water, the sand as white as egret feathers, it might first appear that every day would be the same on a trek such as his.

But according to his journal, it wasn’t. There were constant changes in the landscape that would only be noticed on a slow walk along the water: small animals revealed by the shifting tide; the color of the sea changing according to whims of the clouds in the sky.

I envied him his experience. And yet the thought of spending days and nights and days and nights without the comforts of a bed, a bathroom with shower and a dry martini kept me from trying to duplicate his adventure. I just read. Foot dangling over the side, cold beer in the kitchen, figuring that comfort and adventure would never be on the same menu.

Well, someone has certainly worked the kinks out of this hiking while embracing nature experience. Santa Cruz resident Margaret A. Leonard has come up with a stroll that is much more accommodating to those of us who may love roughing it during the daylight hours, but see no reason not to reward ourselves with a bit of civilization and even pampering at the end of the day.

Margaret, an attorney, has left her desk for good but was not ready to just park in a hammock staring out at the sea. So, thinking about how much she has enjoyed “inn-to-inn” walks in Europe and Asia and how passionate she is about exploring our coastline, she decided to put together a walk around the Monterey Bay that would allow for the same thing she had experienced elsewhere.

It would mean fluffy pillows and clean sheets at the end of each day’s journey. Tasty food served by waiters. A cool drink out of a glass rather than a water bottle.

Beginning in May 2010 she will lead “Walk the Bay” groups from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and to Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, a 40-mile, five-day/four-night adventure of beach, shoreline and coastal trail walking. There will birds to watch, photo opportunities to inspire and adventurous people with whom to share the experience. Come September the season will end. Margaret has great organizational skills, but controlling the weather as seasons change is daunting even for her.

Where was Margaret when we lived in Mexico? I would have abandoned my hammock in the flap of a butterfly’s wing if she had come along with a trip like this. I do adore nature. Especially when it is balanced with a fine pinot grigio at the end of the day.

For details visit the Web site www.slowadventure.us, check out Slow Adventure on Facebook or call 332-7923. E-mail Claudia Sternbach at cmarie302@aol.com.