Touring Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Hubby and I enjoy hiking in the great outdoors, provided there are bathrooms and snacks, and as you are aware of my self-discipline methods, you know it’s not about my physique so much as it’s about fun.

Last weekend, the Hubbs and I thought it would be fun to do an early morning beach hike, so off we went to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Grab your sunglasses and enjoy the gorgeous views with us.

When you walk up to it, you can see that the Torrey Pines loop goes up one side and down the other side of a large sandstone bluff. The loop is technically more of a tipped oval with some squiggles at the bottom and a couple of ampersands curling off the top, so you can decide up front what kind of hike you want.

Whether you go clockwise or not depends entirely on whether you brought small whiny children.

If you did, begin by walking up the paved road on your left. Get the uphill out of the way immediately, while you still have your strength. Bribe them up the hill with a trail of gummy bears. Once you make the top they will be too tired to run off cliffs but not too tired to make it downstairs to the beach on the other side.

bluffs

The rest of us begin with a long, luxurious walk on the beach, sauntering south along the cliff base and dodging waves and romantically holding hands until it dawns on you that you forgot your snacks in the car and wait, is the tide is coming in? And how far down there is the staircase anyway and whoops you just got a shoe soaked and maybe you’d better hustle up because what if there’s an earthquake right here under this crumbling catacomb and then a tidal wave hits?

Already, your hike is exhilarating.

bird-rock

You know you’ve reached the stairway to heaven when you face Bird Rock, which is occasionally covered in birds. Unless the tide is incoming and they sense danger.

Go 300 feet briskly uphill, attempting to join the birds.

stairs

The view gets very distracting after ten minutes.

torrey-path

You can walk out onto different loops over the bluffs and take in La Jolla to the south, Del Mar to the north, and surfers directly below.

surf-view

Against the sapphire backdrop, rose, gold, cinnamon and ginger sandstone ribbons host yucca, cactus, beach grasses. California coastal sage scrub tries to hold the sand together, but it feels like only a matter of time before the Pacific will rub it down. Everything is polished by the salty kisses of wind and sea, even the famous Torrey pine trees that crown the bluff with twisting trunks and fanning fingers.

canyon

Traveling up and over the ridge, you pass tourists speaking in Japanese, families whose kids are hopping one. slow. step. at. a. time. along the twisting pathway, collegiate first dates discussing Disney cruises and church youth planning trips to Tanzania. Three girls in flowing hair and yoga pants pose for selfies on the summit.

You stand in the middle, Kara, you’re so cut!”

My eyes roll hard to leeward as I stride past muttering, “Good luck in therapy, Barbie.”

Coming down the backside of the Reserve on the paved road, I get the feeling we’ve done the loop backwards. Everyone is coming towards us and they all have gummy bears.

uphill

But we are not here to play casual Sunday driver, no. We are here for buns of brass. Stairmasters of steel. Quads of…um…quality. Yeah!

Are we there yet?

the-pines

After hiking the Torrey Pines loop, we still had another mile or so to walk to our parking spot: back along N. Torrey Pines Rd, between the Pacific and Los Penasquitos Lagoon, under the bridge, through the North Beach parking lot, and back down Carmel Valley Rd, where we paused in front of Roberto’s and looking deeply into each others’ eyes, had the same thought.

Burritos for breakfast. Now.

Let’s all take a knee for a moment and recognize the authentic burrito for what it is: revival. I had a massive bean and cheese wrapped in a freshly made tortilla, warm and slightly crisped, salty queso melting into plump juicy pintos. How you can make beans into art is beyond me.

I ate it much too fast to show you a picture of it.

Kara and Barbie need to get their priorities straight.

robertos

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