New Years Day at Pierce Point Ranch

Heading out to the northern stretches of the Point Reyes National Seashore, a bumpy road takes you through pine forests until you cross the Inverness Ridge and break out onto the Pastoral Range. Tens of thousands of acres of coastal plain, occupied first by the Coastal Miwok and then by dairy ranchers, providing milk, butter and cheese to the growing population of San Francisco Bay.

Solomon Pierce bought the land furthest out on Point Reyes, bordered by Tomales Bay and the vast Pacific Ocean. Pierce built a small town to supply his dairy enterprise and his ranch became the top producer in the region. As transportation in the area improved, first by rail and then automobile, ranches closer to San Francisco began to cut into Solomon's business. Eventually the ranch closed and all of the land on Pt. Reyes, along with Pierce's and dozens of neighboring ranches, were acquired by the National Parks Service. 

Pierce Point Ranch is open to the public today and is the starting point for several incredible hikes that take you either down to the windswept beaches or high up on a bluff overlooking Tomales Bay, Dillon Beach, Bodega Bay and the Pacific. New Year's Day was spent hiking out to the tip of Point Reyes with my Nikon FM2n, 55mm Micro-Nikkor and Kodak's Portra 160 exposed at half the box speed.

Here's the historic ranch house at Pierce Point Ranch, now home to Park Service Personnel.

Another shot from a hill above the ranch.

A herd of Tule Elk call Pierce Point Ranch home. If I had a telephoto lens, I could have snapped some great shots. The Elk seemed to care less about me being there.

The Tomales Point Trail wanders along some of the most dramatic and rugged coast at the National Seashore. New Years Day was warm and windless.

I got the feeling that lots of folks were contemplating the year ahead. Looking out at the Ocean does that to a person.

This far out on the Point, the immenseness and quiet of the place wash over you. It is a good place to think, consider the year ahead and plunk down a resolution or two.

On the way back, I saw more Tule Elk. This herd was grazing in a small canyon. That's Tomales Bay in the background. The Marin hills are turning green from all the rain.

The sun started slipping lower in the sky. Time head back to the trailhead.

I wandered around Pierce Point Ranch a bit as the sun was setting. I was trying to imagine what life must have been like living and working in a place so remote and so beautiful.

This was a good place and a good way to spend the first day of the New Year. It was good for my photography. It was good for my soul.