Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, located between La Jolla and Del Mar, California, north of San Diego, is "a wilderness island in an urban sea."
We took the short, easy-walking trail named for Guy Fleming, a former naturalist and landscaper, who was the first custodian of the park.
"This fragile environment is the home of our nation's rarest pine tree--Pinus torreyana. Once this tree covered a larger area. It now grows only here and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast near Santa Barbara.
"Several theories have been set forth trying to explain the two stands of trees some 175 miles apart. These include that trees were planted there from bird droppings, that earthquakes moved landmasses over long periods of time due to plate tectonics and that the trees were once more widely spread along the Southern California coast.
"The trees themselves were referred to as Soledad Pines (Solitary Pines) by the first non-Native Americans to visit the area. The name remained until 1850, when it was "officially" discovered by Dr. Charles Christopher Parry, a medical doctor with an interest in botany. This area and the Torrey Pine tree were brought to his attention by entomologist Dr. John Le Conte. Parry named the tree for his friend and colleague, Dr. John Torrey, of New York. Torrey was one of the leading botanists of his time. Unfortunately, Torrey never came here" (from the park's brochure).
We passed this rock formation on our way to the North Overlook from which there is a view of Peñasquitos Lagoon (partial view on the right in the photo below). This is one of the few brackish water wetlands left in Southern California.
We found a bench from which to listen to the ocean waves and soak in the view to the north.
While enjoying the scenery from this view, we were "visited" by a group of 10 young children, their teacher, the group's chaperone.
The teacher spoke to the children about what they were seeing, and one of her lessons included putting some sand on a piece of paper and then running a magnet under the paper to attract the iron in the sand.
On the beach below us, we saw patterns created by the remnants of waves and the sand of the beach. This pattern was just one of the interesting configurations.
Although a portion of the trail to the South Overlook was closed, we had views like this into the sun.
These last four photos show some of the other activity around the the Reserve--the lone walker on the beach, the helicopter, a bird, and two surfers.
The Flemming Trail is one that can be walked in ten minutes or over an hour. We found ourselves in the group that spends an hour on the short trail--taking time to just sit and listen.