By Ray Van de Water

Directly below the trail lies the Gualala River estuary and summertime lagoon, where the river meets the sea. Here is one of the best places along the coast to observe nature in action. Something is always going on among the wild life, all “doing their thing” in this natural and bountiful haven. Large flocks of sea gulls and pelicans gather to feed, rest and play. Harbor seals, otter, and osprey frequent these waters which contain a great variety of fish and other underwater eatables.

It’s a perfect place for birdwatchers: birds wheeling and diving for prey is an exciting scene. During the winter season of the fast-flowing river, the gulls amuse themselves for hours riding the current downstream, then flying back at the last minute in the ocean surf to rejoin the ride, an exciting scene.

A Personal Experience on GBT II

By Dave Scholz

After picking up a copy of a map from RCLC Board Member Cecilia Moelter showing the new southern extension of the Gualala Bluff Trail (GBT II), I walked behind the Surf Super to see just how this addition was going to work. At one point along my exploration I stopped and peered over the bluff edge, looking almost straight down into the Gualala River estuary twenty feet below. It was a clear and windless day. The water in the estuary was calm, transparent and fairly shallow. Suddenly to my immediate right there was a disturbance in the water. It was three leopard-spotted seals. They appeared to be playing: diving, then breaking the surface, doing intertwined barrel rolls and nipping at each other. I seemed close enough to count their whiskers.

Because of my elevated location, they were totally oblivious of me. It was just like being in a silent, floating hot air balloon, positioned directly overhead, a unique view, to say the least. Just then, in a fraction of a second, two of the seals took off in a straight line for about thirty feet, culminating with one of them doing a flip turn so fast along the bottom that it stirred up a cloud of sediment. They returned to my right. One of them surfaced. There was a bright silver fish in its mouth! The fish seemed to be 12 to 18 inches long, perhaps a juvenile Steelhead. The seal’s companions made a few attempts to dislodge the catch but soon gave up and all participants quietly disappeared from view.

It all took no more than three minutes.

Now, where else along the entire coast of California could one see so clearly and completely such a wildlife experience? Where else but along the Gualala Bluff II Trail, coming to you courtesy of the hard work of the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy!