We got up the following morning at about 6:30 a.m. Given the extreme natural beauty of this section of coast, I was hoping for some early-morning sunlight shots along our next section of trail. Unfortunately, the day dawned with a bit of a high overcast, which kept things a bit subdued.
Breakfast at Green Gardens
We watched passing fishing boats as we had our morning oatmeal and noodles, then packed up the tent and our backpacks, in preparation for the next stage of our journey. We were headed south, along the Green Gardens trail. The trail followed the coast for several kilometres until the first backcountry campsite is reached, at which point, it veers left and uphill, away from the coast and back towards the trailhead.
South on Green Gardens Trail
The Green Gardens trail from the 'Green Gardens' themselves south to the end of the coastal section is a pleasant and varied path: it first follows a long set of steps down to the beach (the same steps we explored the day before), then followed along the beach for a while -- sometimes on small pebbles and coarse sand, and sometimes across jumbles of boulders. It then climbs back up above the beach, traversing across a steeply-sloping section of meadow.
Shoreline, Three Rock Cove
Traverse of steep grassy slopes
As the trail progressed southward, the steep meadows became wider and flatter, and soon the trail crossed through patches of lush forest (separated by green meadows). Everywhere on the trail this morning were snails (the kind inside shells). It was very hard not to step and crunch them.
Traverse of steep grassy slopes
Beautiful traversing path
We approached a section of coast that had a pretty, sloping sea-stack with a grassy top. We knew from our trail maps that we were approaching the southern extent of the coastal portion of the trail.
Crossing another grassy meadow
Soon we arrived at a 'Green Gardens' trailside interpretive plaque. We had arrived at the lower (southern) end of the coastal section of the trail. Off in the trees were several tent platforms here; these constituted the third of the three backcountry campsites along the route. These sites, while nice, didn't have the wonderful open, expansive feel of the two more northerly backcountry sites.
Outcropping of Pillow Lava
Even though the main trail turns off here into the forest and up the slopes, away from the coast, there was also a set of steps that led down to the beach. We knew that there were several interesting sights down on the beach: a sea-cave, a waterfall, and some very interesting geology.
We were in no rush, it being not at all late, and so we went down to the beach to explore. The first thing that is noticeable is the geology - there is a lot of different bits of it everywhere you looked. On the right were two sequences of basalt: one of pillow lava, and the other a more solid flow. On the left was a thick layer of reddish volcanic rock that seemed to me to be rhyolite (but which I suppose could have been some sort of sedimentary rock). The complex rocks here are all part of an ophiolite section - a section of the Earth's oceanic crust and upper mantle that have been shoved up onto land (which somehow seems to correlate well with the nearby section of mantle at the Tablelands).