Guided Hike to Point San Luis Lighthouse

Science Strikes Back | | August 21, 2009 at 16:22

Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, CA

DavidMightyPoleWalkerMy friend David Georgi leads guided hikes in San Luis Obispo County for the Sierra Club and the Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers. He is an avid Pole Walker and instructor in how to reduce the energy you use hiking by using poles that look similar to ski poles.

Port_San_Luis_SignHe invited me to join him for a hike to Point San Luis Lighthouse.  The lighthouse is on PG&E land housing an atomic power station near Avila Beach, CA. Due to security concerns you can only make the hike on guided tours and all participants have to be registered.

See for details.

The Saturday docent led hike starts at 9:00 am throughout the year. You meet at the Memorial for fishermen lost at sea next to the PG&E Power Station Gate in Avila Beach.

The hike is 1.3 miles one way and of moderate difficulty. Over half of our group was in their 50’s and 60’s. Bring a backpack with water and snacks. There are restrooms at Avila Harbor and at the lighthouse.

Harford_Pier_&_FogDavid lent me a pair of walking poles so I could try them out and we were off.

California_OaksRight off we hiked up the hill. The steepest parts have stairs and there are a lot of them. Up and down. And we all quickly were out of breath. Most of us were not in good shape but we made it anyway. It took us an hour to reach the lighthouse.

The views were spectacular. The hillside was covered in native California vegetation with lots of old California Oaks. Our three docents told us about the history of Avila and the lighthouse during frequent breaks so we could catch our breath.

Pecos_Coast_TrailAvila Beach was sunny and in the 70’s when we left, but the lighthouse around the corner of Point San Luis was in the fog. It was in the lower 60’s, cold and windy. Bring a jacket.

Using the poles took a while to get used to but on the return trip from the lighthouse I had stopped thinking about it; it had become automatic. If you know how to do it you should be able to save 10-20% of your energy when hiking. You also fall less when you loose your footing on steep slopes. Four legs are better then two.

LighthouseThe Lighthouse was a work in progress. The Coast Guard stopped maintaining the lighthouse buildings when they went to unmanned automated electric lights in 1974 and the buildings deteriorated dramatically. In 1992, the Port San Luis Harbor District received the 30-acre site from the Federal Government with the requirement that the station be restored and opened to the public.Renovating_Pantry

The Point San Luis Lighthouse Keepers non-profit corporation was formed in 1995 to take on the responsibility of restoring the lighthouse.

The members are all volunteers and dedicated to restoring the lighthouse to its original state in 1890. So far they have spent 8 years and 80,000 hours working on restoring the lighthouse and other buildings. It will probably take another 8 years to complete the work.

Kitchen_SinkThe lighthouse is in good shape. All the gross work of new roofs, stairs, removal of old paint and repainting has been done and period furnishing gives a good idea of the life of the lighthouse keepers family.

The original Fresnel lens has been restored and can be seen at the SLO County Library. It should be installed at the lighthouse next year in 2010.

Lens_Service_Room_ViewThe trip back went fast. It is predominantly down hill. We were back around 1 pm. The whole hike took 4 hours.

Lighthouse_Keepers_CapFor 3 days after the hike I was very stiff in the morning when I woke up and every time I had been sitting down for more than an hour.

Even my shoulders hurt from working the poles.

For more info on pole walking or hiking in the Central Coast, go to David’s link