a little jaunt to Big Sur

Hello everyone. Well, I’ve been a little lax in updating my blog of late, and that means I have 3 weekends worth of trips to blog about, so without further ado, Big Sur.

A couple of weekends ago we had planned to head into death valley to do Styx canyon. In the week leading up to the trip however the weather reports were not good. Temperatures of 100-110 degrees were forecast, and this was not ideal for canyoneering. Dennis bowed out with a sick cat and Patricia had some other plans so Susan and I decided to head up to Big Sur instead. We figured we would just follow our noses and do whatever struck our fancy up there so we loaded up the car and early Saturday we made our escape. after a few hours of not so exciting driving we hit the coastline south of  Hearst Castle. Neither of us had been to the castle before despite meaning to go every time up here so we made the turn up the road to the castle and joined a tour. There is plenty written about this castle elsewhere so I will not add to the glut of information. Suffice it to say that the estate is very beautiful and way over the top in a fanciful European way. It was well worth the visit.

After our visit to the castle we stopped a little way further up the coast to commune with the Elephant seals. Hundreds of these animals lie on the rocky beaches in this area like so many overstuffed sausages. While they are graceful in the water, on the land .. not so much. They spend their time laying out in the sun and occasionally waking to threaten each other with mouths and teeth bared, only to go back to sleep seconds later. We wandered along the bluff above the beach and let the sleeping seals lie.

Soon after the seals’ beaches the coast rears up and you are into the stretch of coastal cliffs that I always refer to as Big sur, although that really only means a small section around the town of Big Sur. Nevertheless I will refer to the whole coastline up to Carmel by this name so get used to it. We drove sedately along the road carved out of towering cliffs over Jade green and sky blue waters, ooing and ahhing as we went. We stopped wherever it looked interesting and kept an eye out for open camp grounds. They all seemed to be full, but we figured that we would find something. I was hoping to camp at Limekiln state park, but it was closed from the fires of last year, and so the hikes in this park which I wanted to do were also closed. Soon after Limekiln we saw some nice little cottages overlooking the ocean which the sign said had vacancies, so we kept this in the backs of our minds as a possibility. We next stopped at Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park and went to look at the waterfall there. This is an iconic image from this are, with the free falling waterfall tumbling a hundred feet in mid air to crash onto the beach below and vanish there. It was as pretty as always.  After this we figured we would go back and see if there was still a vacancy at the cottages. We were in luck, since they keep one empty until 8:00 pm in case something is wrong with one of the other units. No one needed the extra one this evening so we were able to snag it. We ate our dinners on benches overlooking the Pacific and then went to sleep. Sunday we headed back down the coast to do a little hiking. On the way we found the one road which crosses the mountains and lets you go, eventually< to the 101 highway. This road is a precipitous drive up the sides of the coastal mountain range, and we found many places where we could pull over and camp for free, which we filed away for future reference. There wer deep canyons on either side of the ridge the road went up and we looked at these with the possibility for future exploration on our minds. After 3000 feet of elevation gain the road tops out and then branches into a series of dirt roads which take you along the mountain ridges as well as the main road which drops down the other side of the range into a military base and eventually wanders over to the highway. This drive is magnificent, and I recommend it if you are in the area. After poking around a bit we headed back down the road to the PCH. We stopped off for one more hike, then battened down the hatches and drove back into the southland ….

(don’t forget to click through on the link below, or on any of the pictures to ge to the main gallery)

Big Sur

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