Long distance urban walking. Why? That’s what Deborah Vankin, a writer from the L.A. Times asked me as she was considering a story about it for their weekend newspaper edition. It’s a good thing it didn’t run in the end, since it would have been for the “wellness” section. Not only did Vankin get sick, I am so far away from being your Saturday morning model of wellness, the LA Times would be better off simply imploding. “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” – Samuel Becket
Walking is very different from hiking imo. I see hiking as setting out into the wilderness on a trail, where a primary goal, for me, is to get away from society and get into the beauty of nature. My favorite hikes around Colorado are on top of the Continental Divide above the timber line. Hiking along a ridge on the tundra in the summer is about as good as it gets.
Walking through a city on the other hand, or from town to town, can involve stopping for a smoothie, meeting with friends, passing through a museum, sleeping in comfortable houses and hotels, and generally, making up your own route to go wherever you want. It’s trail-less. There are no rules on how to walk somewhere until you set them for yourself.
I’m especially compelled to walk as a sport for the lack of gear that you need. Some people get caught up in their gear, but with walking, you only need shoes, really. Though what you bring along can be super light and practically gear-less. Generally, with walking, you can go many more places across much more terrain than any other mode of transportation, and you can stop to get what you need along the way as you might need it.
THE ROUTE FROM LA TO SD
I did it twice. The first time I walked it in parts, walking from the Santa Monica pier to the Hunnington Beach pier before I went back to Boulder to regroup. I didn’t know it at the time but my shoe laces were tied too tight and they restricted the flex around my talus. I returned to the Huntington Beach pier and walked to Oceanside, felt as if I had it figured out, and then on a third leg walked from Oceanside to downtown San Diego.
Then I returned a few months later to do the entire stretch in one walk, from Santa Monica Pier to downtown San Diego in five consecutive days:
Monday – 34 miles – Santa Monica to Long Beach
Tuesday – 34 miles – Long Beach to Laguna Beach
Wednesday – 26 miles – Laguna Beach to Oceanside
Thursday – 16 miles – Oceanside to Encinitas
Friday – 30 miles – Encinitas to Downtown San Diego
Thirty miles in one day is admittedly not your normal, regular walking distance I’m expecting everyone can easily do. I have a few takes on this. You could probably do it, by building up to it pretty quickly, but why bother setting such a goal? The miles per day was part of my own personal challenge. Just because. Instead of walking 30 miles a day in 5 days, you could set a goal for this same trip of 15-20 miles a day over 7 days. Another idea is to do just 5-10 miles a day and allow yourself to take transportation preplanned, when you get tired, or want to move along. It doesn’t have to be a challenge, if you make it more like a walking vacation you could be more free.
One of the joys of this walk was not knowing where I would end up each day. The limitation was more about pace and sunlight. I got going each morning between 6-7 AM and ended within an hour or so after dusk. Walking in the dark on this route was never comfortable so I rarely did it. At some point after Noon each day I could get a good idea of how far I could make it and that’s when I started to search for an AirBnB or hotel. I found that AirBnbs are limited in this area of California due to ordinances. I also found that many AirBnBs and hotels lower their prices late on the day of which worked to my advantage. Considering that lodging is the only significant expense for the week, if you set your budget to allow yourself a bit more breathing room, you won’t end up wasting your time nit picking places or having to go too far off route.
WALKING ON THE SAND
Despite the romantic idea that you’ll take off your shoes and walk the shoreline barefoot on the sand, you probably wont be be able to do that for too long unless your feet are already leather from having done it for some time. If you are not used to walking on sand long distances, after just one-to-two hours, your bare feet are likely to begin developing sores and blisters from the sandpaper action. I believe the ideal for long distance walking on the beach is to wear your shoes and socks and keep them dry, walking just feet above tide line. When a wave comes up, and then recedes, the area it recedes from becomes hard and is generally more level. It’s not as if you have to constantly doge the waves, they come in sets and tend to rarely make their way to the upper edges of the highest lines. Most beaches do slope toward the water, too, which can be uncomfortable to keep a pace on, and it’s hard to find a fully flat beach. Many of the beaches in Southern California on this route were far too sloped to be enjoyable, so in those cases I headed back up to the boardwalk or neighborhood streets. Many of the beaches were great and the slope was minor.
Do you need to walk on the sand at all? No, with the possible exception of one long stretch north of Oceanside, but walking on cement is much harder on your feet and legs, so walking on the sand sometimes can be helpful.
The biggest difference of all, I’ve noticed, between hiking long distance and walking long distance, is exactly this aspect of being on cement, and the extra wear over the same time frame. Having done mostly hiking in my life, I wasn’t aware of the significant differences of trying to walk long distance over several days on the cement vs. natural earth ground until more recently. After the five days of walking this route, due to the amount of cement I did walk on, my lower legs were sore and it took a complete week of resting after the journey before they were back to normal.
It’s also worth noting that even on the best beach walking conditions, I found that for the same effort, my pace is simply slower on sand. At times when I felt I was flying, really trying to keep a fast pace, which for me is a 16-17 min mile, I checked my pace and found it to be closer to 18 or 19 on the sand for the same effort.
WHATS IN YOUR BAG
Admittedly, I do have my little set of walking “gear”. My backpack, shoes, iPhone, and rain jacket are what matter to me.
Clothes: Walking in Southern California has some advantages, e.g. you probably don’t need a coat. You don’t need to pack any meals because there will almost always be options nearby. You don’t need to pack for every day because you can walk by a laundry mat and wash your clothes, or buy extra clothes if in need. Even in the summer on my first walk on this route when it was warmest, I preferred long pants in the morning until about 10 or 11am. I carried an extra thin fleece pullover that doubled as a towel.
Rain Jacket: I carried an ultralight rain jacket that keeps me dry even in a downpour. The rain jacket is one of the best clothing items I’ve ever bought. It’s an Arc’teryx Zeta SL, 2-layers of N40r GORE-TEX PACLITE PLUS and only 10 ounces. I’ve worn it in the most intense mountain storms and it kept me 100% dry, despite being so light, and regardless of how much time I spend in the rain.
Shoes: I had one pair of shoes, the shoes I was wearing. Hoka Stinson ATR 6. I love these shoes so much. Seriously, I could cry.
Pack: I want to be as light as possible, that’s my goal with my bag and gear. For a typical day-trip, I would rather take a small trail running vest. I have a 17 OZ Camelback Zepher which is my first choice, and for this trip I took my Black Diamond Distance 22 OZ vest backpack.
Electronics: It would be easy to take an iPhone for granted these days if not for the cost, but I mean, come on. Nineteen billion transistors in my pocket. Eleven trillion operations per second. Realtime GPS and maps, answers from a connected oracle like ChatGPT, pace calculations, satellite emergency communications, weather charts, camera with optical zoom and night vision, phone, web.
Aside from my iPhone the only accessories I brought were a battery (Anker 10,000mah/20w), AirPods, and AirTags. The Anker battery is the size and weight of a phone and can fast charge an iPhone around two times, so it was easy to get through a day with heavy iPhone use. I put one airtag in my backpack and one in my wallet. I didn’t listen to music or books, but I used the AirPods for noise cancellation when walking in industrial areas or beside busy streets.
Other: I have a an ice bag and filled it with ice (or filled it with water and froze it in a freezer) each night, and then put it on my feet when I was falling asleep. That was pretty hard to do because obviously it makes you cold, but it worked as a preventative. When I didn’t use it I was sore the next day, when I did use it I wasn’t. Simple. I brought a small water sealable bag that fit my electronics and my wallet in case I wanted to swim somewhere.
I look at maps ahead of time, but I mostly play it by ear, using the maps on my phone as I go, planing out my immediate route while I walk.
All Trails – Records every step of the way and best to see what’s just ahead for possible trails, walkways and to discover passages and blockages that might not be apparent on other maps. You can also battery-save with AllTrails by putting your phone in airplane mode to preserve charge while the GPS tracker continues to work.
Walkmeter – Records every step and keeps track of the most statistics; good for monitoring real-time pace. Nice safety share features and auto pings to let friends know where you are.
Google Maps – Good for finding hotels and hotspots. Also useful in unison with All Trails when determining routes.
ChatGPT – Best travel guide ever. Great for getting questions answered for things you wonder about or have never seen.
Wallet App – Tap to pay is not always accepted. Having a physical ATM card is recommended, however, an easy work around to get cash from your phone is to make a purchase at a grocery store and ask for cash back.
Photo App – Duh.
Voice Memos – The “Voice Memo” app adds your location by default to the notes, so you can make notes to yourself about your location without knowing where you are.
Do you need a tide chart? You can obviously grab that from a Google search in the moment if you need to. I found one for the week and screengrabbed it to my phone to index as it stopped me from wondering if the tide was coming in or out as I walked, but I didn’t feel I needed it. There were a few times I wanted to pass on the beach when the tide was too high, but I was going to walk in the direction I was going to walk, and if the tide was too high, or cliffs prevented passage, so be it, I just walked on the sidewalks instead.
DAY 1: Santa Monica to Long Beach
Starting at Santa Monica Pier early in the morning and heading south is a nice start with a classic California sunrise. As the paved path along the sand waves through Santa Monica, and becomes the boardwalk of Venice Beach, I was astounded to see Harry Perry out for a jog, in tip top condition, considering I saw him all the way back in the late 1980’s roller-skating around the same boardwalk playing guitar with an amp on his back. Venice beach is the height of American Weird. Little known facts: I went to USC in Los Angeles for my first year in college and later got engaged on Venice Beach. I also stayed with Xeni Jardin for a bit when she lived in Venice.
Next door is Muscle Beach which is no less of a weird place and then near the end of the boardwalk, you can cut up through Venice Canals.
From there make your way around Marina Del Ray, the largest boat harbor in North America by slips, almost 5000. It’s for sure a bubble onto itself.
On the south side of Marina Del Rey is Playa Del Ray, and depending on the tide, it might be a good time to hit the sand and walk through to El Segundo on the beach.
The stretch from Marina Del Rey to Manhattan Beach is extremely industrial. You are surrounded by industry. Oil drilling, tankers, container ports, refineries, and18 wheelers all around town. Manhattan Beach is like a bubble in the industrial zone with quiet neighborhoods and a pristine sea-side jogging boardwalk, though, when you are on Manhattan Beach itself, you are going to see oil rigs and commercial ships. The industrial faction hits hard all the way through Long Beach and it isn’t until Huntington that I felt I might have made my way out of it, mostly, but ultimately Laguna Beach is the very first beach that is fully outside of the heavy industry zone that I could see and feel.
The smog often turns the mountains to the east into a murky white silhouette or hides them completely. The smog also makes its way across the entire horizon of the ocean. In addition to the natural surroundings of Los Angeles that trap smog in a bowl, the shipping containers coming into the Los Angeles and Long Beach area make for an enormous amount of pollution. Sometimes I couldn’t even see Catalina Island as a result of all the smog. The industrial nature is interesting to walk through and see as somewhat of a day one. It’s easy to block out when you want due to the beauty and weather of the area. I felt lucky to be able to walk along this precious land with precious temperatures where people make the best of it untroubled.
Perhaps the biggest point of consideration for which route you may want to take for this first stretch comes between Redondo and Long Beach. I tried two different ways.
The first time I b-lined through Torrence and Carson. This was all neighborhoods and industrial areas. I often wound up walking along busy streets with heavy factory smells and noises. The second time I walked more along the borders of Palo Verdes and found it much more calm with a good portion of soft ground dirt trails that run alongside the neighborhoods. People love horses around this area. I walked by an uncountable number of homes where people had horses on their properties.
A third option, if you want to see the cliffs and homes of Palo Verde would be to add an extra 8-10 miles to your route and walk along and around the cliffs beside the ocean.
DAY 2: Long Beach to Laguna Beach
Walking towards Huntington you find a pleasant boardwalk, lots of dogs, and surfers. If you have a dog and also surf, this would be a good consideration for your time. It’s the largest area of beach front I’ve seen that allows dogs. There were some significant waves here that brought a lot of surfers both times I walked through. On my second pass I asked one surfer who had just come in how tall the waves were. He said it was a good day. He said it gets bigger but at about 5 feet they were as big as they needed to be. A few minutes later I asked another surfer, who said 4-5 feet. He said the following day would be bigger due to a storm rolling in, maybe up to 7 feet.
I’ve noticed that surfers are much more showy on their wipeouts than I’ve seen in past times. While it’s true you want to get away from your board when you’re about to wipe out hard, the way many surfers tended to fly over the waves appeared to be a big part of the sport I hadn’t seen as being so common in past times – reaching out into flight – with some significant intent and effort that was worth it’s entertainment value for those of us watching from afar.
The beaches along Huntington are not that wide, and considering the PCH rolls close to it, it’s not ideal in my opinion, and there is still an oil rig out front, though you definitely get a feeling that you are mostly out of the industrial area of the greater Los Angeles metroplex and that such elements can be easier to block out anyway, for your enjoyment of an area, as you know, is in your own control.
The bike trails along the ocean in Southern California are now predominantly electric in a way that defines a new era. There are way more electric bikes than non, and that to me indicates a positive shift, for many of the people exercising and joyriding along the paths would likely not be doing so without motor assist. It opens up the joy to a greater number of people to go longer distances, and to use their bikes to commute around town.
The bike style which once predominantly included three types of bikes (beach cruiser, road bike, and mountain bike), is now dominated by a newer style, one that takes its design from the 1970’s mini-bike genera, a bike which originally had a combustion engine and fit into the motorcycle category. I happen to know what happened here, for I both had mini bikes when I was a kid, and because this new fad was the result of a single kickstarter project I followed in 2016, introducing what is now the world renown Super73, an electric-bike version of the early 1970’s mini-bike design.
The founder video documented building his company from scratch in realtime, originally flying from California to a factory he found in China where he initially created his frames and assembled the bikes. Now he has his own factory in California. While I didn’t get my Super73 from his Kickstarter project, I bought the first model afterwards, the Z-1, and still ride it today around Boulder. What I love the most about it is how low to the ground it is, and thus how stable and fun it is to zip around town. The seat on my model is long so I can easily pump my son to school. Super73 is by far the most popular bike in Southern California for beach cruising with teenagers and twenty-somethings, and now there are dozens of popular brands that have mimicked the Super73 style for all ages. The typical single gear, classic beach cruiser is becoming dwarfed now by the electric mini-bikes on the bike paths throughout this region.
Newport is a family town that has nice beaches, a lot of boating, and fun activities around the streets. On my first walk through Newport I became so sucked in to the fun zone that I unwittingly killed my rule on this trip of no transportation. The Balboa ferry seemed so cool I couldn’t help it, and I took it for the five minutes it takes to cross San Diego Creek. Maybe it was worth it. On my second trip I duly walked around the channel and did not fall into that trap. It’s for sure a bubble onto itself.
As you transition into Laguna, it’s a good idea not to do it in the dark imo, because you need to walk along streets and over bridges that have too narrow of a walking area up against the cars which are going way too fast without great visibility. The legitimate walkway for pedestrians over these bridges are too uncomfortable at night because the slightest mistake of a car could cause you to be knocked over the bridge into the water from too high up, while the beaches and trails in this area are too dangerous to walk alone at night. The neighborhoods around this point are often private and gated with no access. There is room to have protected sidewalks in most places where there are not any, so this is pretty lame of Laguna. If I had to rate walkability for the various towns along the way, Laguna is by far the worst. It has some stellar walk ways too, but they are limited in length and place. As for thru-routes to walk, it’s the bottom of the barrel.
In one area on the north end of Laguna I stopped and asked a security guard in a gated complex why everyone in front of their buildings park in the bike lanes, since there isn’t a sidewalk, thus causing pedestrians and bikers to be out in the street and he noted that the city passed a new plan to add walkways soon. Unfortunately though, South Laguna is even worse with disregard for walking through the town. While they might argue they have places to walk, there is no where to walk to, because you can’t, unless it’s in the middle of traffic or you have pre-purchased access. My comments are merely observations, relative to the rest of Southern California’s sea-side towns on this route.
Meanwhile, if you take your time to find them, Laguna has some of the most gorgeous beaches in all of Southern California. The main beach has such a nice happy-go-lucky vibe to it, it’s like an impressionistic painting from a summer day picnic in a park in Paris, but for America, today. It’s for sure a bubble onto itself. And the shorelines to the north meander with quaint walkways to stroll the day’s views from sand or cliff. There is a trolly that goes from North Laguna, to South Laguna to Dana Point in case you visit the area and are not walking, or want to use that to help with your walk through.
As with many beaches in all of Southern California, many of the beaches to the south and into South Laguna are tiny bays at the bottom of cliffs, accessible from a set of stairs tucked away in a neighborhood that leads down to the water. The experience of walking through a neighborhood and then coming upon an unexpected public stairwell that leads down to the water is one my favorite little aspects of beach life as a visitor in this state. My favorite stairwells are lined with flowers and greenery that hang over from the yards of the neighbors.
DAY 3: Laguna Beach to Oceanside
This stretch is the most wild and dystopian. It has the most preserved land, includes a path past a defunct nuclear power plant, has the most beautiful beaches in my opinion, has the most isolated beaches, while it flanks and confronts secret military operations.
If you plan to make this walk, the most important note in my entire article is this section on Camp Pendleton and how to get past it while walking, if it is even passable. I did it once but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do it again. My second attempt trying an alternative route failed. This was the single stress point of the entire walk, both times, since they create a seemingly impassible section of Southern California for walkers.
To get through Camp Pendleton, it comes down to a 7.5 mile stretch, with legal and rightful passage on the shoulder of the 5 Freeway for bikes, one of the most dangerous places to ride a bike in America I presume, however it is illegal to walk on that same shoulder, and thus for the 7.5 miles just north of Oceanside Harbor exit, you will probably not be able to walk it. You can call an Uber or taxi to pick you up for this stretch, if you are unable to make it on the beach. I did make it walking on the beach, all the way through.
HOW I MADE IT THROUGH CAMP PENDLETON
I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation my first time when I made the pass. After walking through the San Onofre State Beach, the California Coastal Trail (CCT) continues on the beach to the the south. Since this is the last place to park to access the beach before Oceanside not too many people are willing to walk so far, on the CCT so there is a vast swath of gorgeous, isolated beach for miles and miles that has almost no one there.
As you can see on the AllTrails map above (link to map), the publicly accessible CCT then comes to an abrupt end just south of Pendleton Airport which is quite a ways down. The CCT does continue in name but is private and thus off-limits, and presumably, the whole zone is private, e.g. you can’t expect walking from the beach right through the Pendleton Airport would be fine.
There is a concept which shouldn’t be taken for granted in practice as a federal law to apply to all areas, but that conveys generally, that no one in America can own a beach along the ocean lower than the high-tide line. For example, there are beachfront properties in California that can be owned which include the beach itself, such that walking on the beach would be trespassing, but only up to the high-tide line. Anywhere lower is conceptually free and open. “Conceptually” being the key word here, for there are a lot of variables and conditions in actual practice.
When at the end of the CCT, expecting to find signs in the sand, or gates, I never found anything. There was no indication of any kind that I was at the end of a trail or couldn’t continue on, so I continued. Keeping in mind this general rule (i.e. hope) for the free shore, I walked literally lower than the high tide line and never for a moment wondered off higher. The beach was practically flat, and extremely wide, consequently the best beach I had experienced for walking. After a bit continuing on the beach towards Oceanside, a small boat about 300 yards out from the shore appeared and after about 30 minutes I concluded definitively that it was following me, since it was going my exact pace, less than 3 miles per hour, and it was staying exactly inline and parallel with me.
This continued for about an hour and a half. I must say, it was a bit scary at a certain point when I realized it was following me. But then also, it wasn’t scary. I was walking, the boat was following, but it was not coming to get me, or tell me to go back despite being closer to the north side when we began. It was allowing me. So I eventually concluded that while I may have been perceived as a possible threat, they may have been simply monitoring to be sure. Had I cut up from the beach at some point, that could have been a problem I gathered, but so long as I was walking and staying on the tide line, and in view of this boat, I felt safe.
As I looked ahead on my map I wondered what would happen when I reached the Santa Margarita River where it becomes an estuary with the Pacific. Along this journey, sometimes estuaries are easily passible by taking off your shoes and rolling up your pants, but sometimes they are much too wide and deep and require swimming, which I would be willing to do if I had to, but would typically prefer to go around. In some places even if you want to swim, it can be illegal, due to boat traffic coming through a channel, e.g. you are not allowed to swim across the Marina Del Ray passage and must walk some extra miles as a result.
When I arrived at the estuary with the Santa Margarita River, it was wide but there was an area that appeared to be passable at around knee high. I took off my shoes and put my phone and wallet in my water case inside my bag and began walking across but it dropped off suddenly and I ended up doggie paddling for a few moments with just my head above the water. As I dried off on the other side and carried on, apparently I was no longer a threat as the boat then turned back. I was quite close to the end.
I continued on along the beach for about 30 minutes and eventually could see a crowd of people on the beach with their kids, beach umbrellas and it was completely packed. In one way I knew I was finally going to make it back into civilization but when I squinted I saw what appeared to be a few people dressed in full clothes standing there at the line watching me walk towards them, as if they might be guards and I wondered if they were there waiting to question or arrest me. That turned out to not be the case, there were no people with any uniforms after all, and as I crossed over the line into the family zone back into civilian land, I turned around to see that a sign said the area was not assessable by order of a particular commander in Camp Pendleton.
As I glided past the families and became one of them, free, I thought, I realized that the beach was itself a private beach that was actually inside of Camp Pendleton. I was in the military zone that was only accessible to military families – Del Mar Pendleton Beach. I walked out of the beach, through the parking lots, and into the neighborhood which seemed like any other neighborhood but it was all military housing. Eventually as I walked along the sidewalk of Santa Fe Road, just north of Harbor Rd I came to a guard’s gate to exit the camp though fortunately, the gate was only for people and cars entering, not exiting, so I never had to explain and walked right past with a smile and a wave.
As for the beach area, perhaps they do sometimes put up fences and signs on the north end of the camp. Quite frankly, this should be the de fact route that pedestrians should be allowed to walk. Bikes have their route through, this is a good route for pedestrians and they should open it up for passing in my opinion. All in all, I do not recommend taking this route without additional research and a legitimate pass/ok from Camp Pendleton, primarily because I think it could be dangerous depending on what type of activity may be going on at the time. I think I may have just gotten lucky that they weren’t busy when I passed through. I do think they should put up signs and gates on the north end though, if they don’t want people to pass.
The second time I found myself at Camp Pendleton on an alternate route, the experience was different. I did more research this time before making the attempt, but I still don’t have an answer on the legality of passing. I’ve contacted many people and departments including Camp Pendleton offices, police departments in Oceanside and San Clemente, California Highway Patrol, California Welcome Centers in Oceanside and San Clemente, and so far, not one person could give a definitive answer about walking the beach below high tide line, or through the zone I entered into this second time. The information I got for this route was from bike shops around Dana Point and San Clemente.
Multiple bike shop owners told me that when you get to the southern end of the parking lot at San Onofre State Beach, you can enter into Camp Pendleton via the Old Pacific Highway Bike Trail (close up of entrance).
They said people bike south to the Las Pulgas exit on the 5 (close up) and then continue on to Oceanside for the 7.5 miles alongside the shoulder of the 5. They also said that many bikers park at the Las Pulgas exit and then bike north up to San Clemente.
So I decided to take the Old Pacific Highway Trail south to Las Pulgas but had I not heard from enough bikers that did it, I would not have carried on through the the gates seen above, out of the fear of the signs at these gates.
At the northern gate, there was no one there. A fence was lined along the road as you can see in my screengrab above, so no car could get through, but there was an intentional opening for bikes to ride through. It was not cut fence, and there was no temporary closeable gate, it was open on purpose and fit a bike but not a car. The problem was the sign there. This is what it said:
US MARINE CORPS
AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY
AUTHORIZED ENTRY THIS INSTALLATION CONSTITUTES CONSENT SEARCH
PERSONNEL UNDER THEIR CONTROL
Was I authorized?
But what were the consequences here of not being authorized? There was no warning of a felony or fine. Might I be due for a search? I was prepared to be searched, and the gate was open, though I did not see any bikers coming or going at the time. While I wasn’t authorized, I was in the know.
Not only was the gate for bikes open, the bike path painted on the road was fresh. As I entered and began walking signs were posted on the west side that warned of trespassing beyond the sign, which indicated to me that I was not trespassing on my side of the sign, and the train tracks were on the east side.
When I arrived at the Las Pulgas gate, there was no one guarding it. It was the same as the north with its opening for bikes and a sign warning authorized personnel only. It was dark and pouring rain. A California Highway Patrol car was there on break. The officer rolled down his window, looked me up and down and was like wtf? I asked him how to get to Oceanside on foot and he said there wasn’t a way, and was kind enough to give me a courtesy ride to the Harbor exit in Oceanside. Along the way he noted that he himself had brought up to his department the fact that there is no way to pass for pedestrians as a problem, and he confirmed that bikers are legally allowed to ride on the shoulder of the 5, but pedestrians are not allowed to walk. Indeed there is a sign on the 5 for cars that notes bikes on shoulder.
If I ever do anything remarkable enough with my life to warrant some infrastructure, or should I die from being hit by a car, I hope you will make a waking path that connects San Onofre with Oceanside. If it’s cash strapped, at least add a path to walk next to the 5.
DAY 4: Oceanside to Encinitas
Waking up in Oceanside after the stress of passing Pendleton, I felt truly over the hump. I was going to make it to San Diego without any more obstacles. As you might expect, Oceanside itself is filled with active and inactive military duty culture that serves the camp. If you decide to vacation in Oceanside, you can count on the beaches and streets being filled with military families, police, and private watch groups. It’s for sure a bubble onto itself.
Walking out of Oceanside to the south you come through Carlsbad which is notable for its lagoons, family shopping and proximity to Lego Land. The beaches are nice though also quite narrow while skirting closely to the PCH and train tracks.
DAY 5: Encinitas to San Diego
Encinitas seems great for surfers. Most of the beaches are pebble beaches instead of sand. There is a nice mix of nature and culture, and the vibe of the town, particularly the social center along the PCH between A and I streets, is the mom and pop style of America that I love. It’s a walkable, surfable, cruise around on your bike type of place, though granted, just one of many awesome places along the way where its too hard to pick a single favorite. The people I spoke with described a noticeably more Boulder-like approach to living, working, and social politics.
This part of the walk takes you on through multiple universities where some of the most important oceanography research in the world is happening, through La Jolla which is one of my favorite areas in all of Southern California, and then into Mission Beach and Ocean Beach which are great sub-cultures for being so close into such a large city like San Diego.
There is a feature along this part that strikes fear into locals, the climb up Torrey Pines. I can’t tell you how many people asked me if I was going to walk up Torrey Pines. “Ah, you walking up Torrey Pines??”. “How about Torrey Pines! You doing Torrey Pines?!” Funny enough, the walk up Torrey Pines is about what people in Boulder do each day on snack break, it’s just not that big deal of a deal at all. In case you are wondering if you can do it, e.g. if I’m being unfair or exaggerating, just as I was walking up the second time, there was a Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk along side me. Fifteen hundred people walked up Torrey Pines as part of a 60 mile, 3-day.
La Jolla has a special place in my heart because my roommate from college lived in La Jolla and we hung out around there alot. It’s so beautiful. Excellent tide pooling, beautiful beaches, lovely neighborhoods as well. It’s for sure a bubble onto itself.
If you check out my pace on the map you can see the last miles for me were the hardest. My legs were sore and I was dragging. I opted for an alternate route which was more commercial and less interesting but it was quicker and more straight forward. It shaved off a few miles. When I arrived at the final point in central downtown San Diego next to the train station, I didn’t feel the kind of euphoria or emotion one might typically feel after crossing such a finish line. Maybe because of how easy it was. I felt shy and privileged, like it wasn’t fair that I got to do it. Sand like diamonds on the soles of my shoes.