Yesterday (Sunday) my boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather -55ish and sunny as can be- so we hopped into the trusty ol' Metro and headed north on Highway 1. Hugging the road's constant curves, we wound our way along the Pacific coast, through northern Marin county and into Sonoma. A few hours later, we arrived at Black Point Beach State Park - our arbitrarily-chosen turnaround spot just a few miles from the Sonoma-Mendocino border.
Signs in the parking lot warned that this is "one of the deadliest beaches in California" and, with numerous detailed diagrams, showed why. The crumbling cliffs -pictured below- make climbing, cliff-base hiking, or over-edge peering risky propositions at best.
I don't recall seeing any warning about sharks, which is odd because northern California is unbelievably sharky. This giant rock resembling a dorsal fin juts from the ultra-heavy-vibed waters at the mouth of the Russian River - a notoriously sharky surf spot in a county that essentially comprises one giant sharky surf spot.
So, to recap: five safety tips from the self-proclaimed deadliest beach in California:
1.Stay back from the edge of cliffs, because even if they look stable from on top where they're matted reassuringly with grass or what have you, from the base they may reveal their true natures as giant choss piles of death.
2. Never turn your back on the ocean. I have a good friend who got slammed by a freak wave while hiking on a coastal trail. When she regained consciousness, she needed over a hundred stitches in her face to repair the damage. Now she's got hella cool scars, but still - that's no fun. So watch your back.
3. Don't swim with open wounds. It would sting like mad. Also, sharks can smell a drop of blood five miiles away
4. If caught in a riptide, swim across it. I got caught in a swift river current once and tried to swim against it. Didn't work. I ended up swimming through some pretty decent rapids.
5. Bring water. Dehydration is a hazard whether you're on a Tahitian beach or an Andean glacier.