Wilde Tides: Exploring Half Moon Bay

Matt leads his group of students down the beach toward the pools

There goes Marko. He shouts to Sam from 30 yards away.
“Come help us dislodge this crab!” Marko has never seen tide pools. He sees them with virgin vision, he hears, smells, tastes the salt and surf. Earlier that day he referred to them as “beach puddles.” Beach puddles! He is the king of his new ocean-front domain, roaming with the seagulls and sea urchins. He rules with an iron fist until his Nike’s slip into an unseen pool. The score: mother nature-1, Marko-0.

It’s called a sea star, mind you, not a starfish

Where’s Kyle? He’s saving the planet. One piece of trash at a time. The other’s scour the place for sea creatures while Kyle takes matters into his own hands. First its an abandoned balloon (or shall I say dolphin killer), next its an old shoe, and before the day is over his arms are teeming with trash. “Hey, careful with your bare feet,” cautions a leader. He acknowledges, but little do they know he is a seasoned veteran. He’s waded through more tide pools than a rogue seagull looking for lunch.

Kyle and co. scour the tide pools, picking up stray pieces of garbage along the way

Isabelle has found Nature’s sense of humor. Left, right, to and fro she hops, searching for the elusive “clam squirt.” Elise and Keely have found it already, but poor Isabelle has had no such luck. The clams, she feels, have let her down. All of a sudden she takes the perfect step, pressure is applied in the right location and…”There it was!” she exclaims. A small jet of water expelled from a tiny hole in the mud. She has found what she came looking for, the answer to her prayers. The clam doesn’t know that it made her day.

Isabelle and Elise show off their own muscles

Michael is an interesting chap. “A little to the left…no MY left,” he negotiates with the subjects of his photo. “Ah, that was the one.” He watches the water-world through the lens of his Nikon DSLR. He admires both the big and the small, snapping pictures of ocean vistas and hermit crabs. He meanders along the shore, his signature blue hat somehow managing to constrain boisterous bushels of brown hair. He captures smiles, he captures fun, and he shares it right back with us all.

A nudibranch! Slug of the sea, this tiny creature comes in many shapes and colors

Maverick doesn’t quite know what he’s hunting for, but he’s hunting it. His snout is experiencing sensory overload disorder at the moment, catching whiffs of countless other canines. But he’s on to something and he knows it. His owner has been left in the dust, calling out for him as he tromps over snails and clam holes. Perhaps it’s the scent of fish he most covets, or it might be that tennis ball he spots bouncing over to the left. “Hey, maybe I’ll go say hi to that big mob of students,” he muses. A dog is always eager. A dog is always earnest.

ITW can brave any danger

The students make their way back to the cars under a darkening sky. They yearn for dinner (a burger or soup) and settle in for the ride back to Santa Clara. A marvelous marine world filled with anemones, urchins, crabs, snails, fish, worms, and slugs lingers in their thoughts, but not in their appetites. The pools have been conquered. The tides have turned.

Stay Wild!

Welcome to Wild!

It’s 6 AM and still dark on the campus of Santa Clara University. A handful of students sprawl out on a mound of backpacks in front of the Mission Church. Picture a bunch of bullfrogs sitting around a pond croaking, but instead of frogs it’s students and instead of croaking they’re yawning. No talking, just yawning. Why so early? This adventurous group of college puke has decided to take on Yosemite for the weekend, with the Into The Wild outdoor club. The leaders wrangle up the remaining stragglers and the troop is off before the sunlight has penetrated the Silicon Valley.

Four hours later, Matt drums on the steering wheel to the beat of a soulful John Mayer number as the car rounds the bend into Yosemite Valley. Massive granite walls loom above, El Capitan and Half Dome strike a numb feeling of humility into our hearts, we are in awe of the majesty.

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Into The Wild visits Yosemite for a weekend in November, 2014

By mid-day the clan has meandered up to a lookout above the valley. Some hang out on big boulders and soak in the view while eating a frightening amount of dried mangoes. Others watch as a slack-liner traverses a gap with a 1000 foot drop. They pass the time finding all sorts of new ways to say “Holy shit I could never do that.” The sun is powerful. The sky is clear. There are no cars, no buildings and no grades.

It’s 9 PM and the ranger will come around soon to tell us to be quiet. The campfire is roaring and half the group tries to make sense of the dutch oven. That night, in the tents, nobody realizes that they will have to go right back to school in two days. For now, they are trapped in a blissful escape with nothing but crisp mountain air to breathe.


Welcome to the Into The Wild Nature Review!

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Stay Wild my friends!