We approached our last hike of the season with a few qualms because some highway construction initially seemed to tangle our way, the forecast was in the hot-for-us 90’s and reluctance to realize that it was the final hike for our Spring Footloose 19. But these hesitation steps have a way of working out: Jeannie our stalwart navigator checked out the route ahead of time and sent us clear and helpful directions, Michael pointed out that being by the water on a hot day was really cool and Fall Footloose 19 was coming up just over that hill called summer.
Point Molate and the location of our potluck lunch at Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor (Sorry there isn’t a Point Potluck but we’re always eager to discover that one.) are in a forgotten part of the Bay shore at the eastern end of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. We began at Pt. Molate Beach Park where Jeff, a co-owner of the yacht harbor, introduced us to the area and we all needed this being the first time for most of us there. I’d like to report that there was a Chief Molate who was known for his inclusiveness, kindness and wisdom but . . . Pt. Molate seems to be an Italian word for “grind” in one source and derived from “molare”, the word for molar . Of course, the ever timely internet ads on the page had information on dental implants to help with the grinding. We hope that the word continues to sail by itself linguistically rather than finding bad company with a prefix like “im”. Point San Pablo is probably easier as it finds itself along San Pablo Bay.
Mt. Tamalpais where we hiked last week seems a little wispy and etherial today like a memory that has begun to lose some of the detail. But the white Radar Dome from the 50s, an artifact from the cold war, continues to attract our attention. The Richmond – San Rafael Bridge was opened in 1956 so that each share roots and construction techniques from in the first half of the 20th Century. Should you want the excitement of virtually crossing the bridge there’s a video at the end of the various photo options on this link. The span in the middle of the bridge gracefully dips in the connection between the two identical sections roller-coaster-esquely. Prior to the construction there was a group that fought for the span to have a high arch in at the middle but due to the significant extra cost of the steel, economy won the day.
Jeff introduces us to some of this area’s history with some additional live streaming from Michael.
Jeff continues his introduction bravely not quite sure if Michael will spot another passing hawk or osprey.
We arrived Monday morning after the weekend here and Point Molate Park had lots of debris from Sunday’s picnics. We pitched in to clean up some of the area. We’d done this another time with Armando on North Beach at Pt. Reyes National Seashore picking up plastic debris. Both looked a lot better after some group attention proving the old adage that “many hands make light work”.
Point Molate Beach was a lovely short hike as Michael pointed out the passing flora and fauna. We were almost the only ones there.
An osprey perches on a piling, sounds like a children’s rhyme. As Jeff told us, there are a remarkable number of osprey in this area which speaks well about the available food sources. He told us that they did not have a recent history here making this concentration of birds all the more remarkable. We saw a number of them flying over with fish in their talons. Michael relayed that they juggle the fish around so the head is facing forward which I’d imagine helps a lot with the aerodynamics. He said that he saw an osprey catch a ray one time and the bird kept juggling it because there was no clear head forward.
The following photo gives you an idea of where we saw an osprey but the links show photos done with long lenses adding really incredible detail.
There was an osprey nest on a utility pole down the road on the way to the yacht harbor as well. I found a youtube video that covers the nesting dynamics beautifully.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQOVcP67zFM Amazing video of an osprey in Scotland diving and securing a trout for a dinner flight.
Multi-colored rocky exposure along the beach. Here’s another splendid article, this one from the 2006 pages of Bay Nature Magazine. It talks of the proposed and now quashed casino at Pt. Molate and the elephant in the room – the Chevron Refinery. Just over the hill there’s some exquisite nature, the “last piece of coastal prairie within the Bay.” “The rock underlying the Point San Pablo peninsula is a geologic layer cake of sandstone and shale known as Novato Quarry terrane.”
Michael spotted this grass at the end of our walk before we turned around, said it was the largest specimen that he’d seen. Diana was able to pull up the name with an app on her cellphone called SEEK which is part of iNaturalist. She loves using the app though, of course, it doesn’t know everything.
Called Arrow grass, pod grass or goose grass (Triglochin maritima) “It prefers wet alkaline soil . . . flourishes in marshy ground and growing in native meadows cut for hay.” https://csuvth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/Plants/Details/58
This site is from Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital emphasizes that the plant is highly toxic containing a poison which produces hydrogen cyanide when it hydrolyses in the rumen of cattle and sheep. The cyanide prevents the hemoglobin from releasing oxygen to the tissues and death results rapidly from anoxia. It causes this severe difficulty breathing and rapid respiratory rate often with sudden death perhaps the only presenting sign. Game over.
Mixed use beach
Off the beach with a helping hand and The Richmond – San Rafael Bridge – the dip and the distance.
As the map caption indicated, “The road is bumpy but the destination is worth the drive.” We arrive at the Pt. San Pablo Yacht Club after a rigorous ride. Michael’s friends, Jeff and his co-owner Rob, opened the yacht club building to us for our potluck, it was cool and lovely shade
on a hot day.
Pt. San Pablo Yacht Habor – a hidden harbor in the SFBay area Welcome to Point San Pablo Harbor
The charm offensive began as we arrived with these greeters.
Coming in for a landing or is it to a landing at the Point San Pablo Harbor. Can you spot the osprey nesting column amid the masts?
Reconnoitering the room and continuing the conversation which has gone on since the 1980s.
The salad course
And to go with the coffee, thanks to Michael for this shot
Meanwhile a suggestion of the Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai was rising outside. We saw this on one of our other hikes, do you recall where?
Only to be a false alarm on this mellow day
Many thanks to Michael’s friends, Jeff and Rob, at the Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor for their kindness and hospitality to us on today’s adventure.