A weekend on the Sur
In the spirit of not falling too far behind in my blogs I’m going to get the most recent trip out of the way right now. Over the Independence day weekend the temperature in LA was going to be HOT!! Machelle and I were planning to go climbing but every destination looked too hot or had thunderstorms forecast. Because of this we decided to head up the coast to the area around Big Sur.
The temperature along the coast was great, and some parks which had been closed due to fire damage the last time I was up there were reopened. I had also found an area where I could set up primitive camps off the main highway, so we weren’t worried about the crowds which would be filling all the regular campgrounds along the coast. This part of California is thick with state parks featuring spectacular coastlines and redwood forests so we had plenty of options for activities.
On Saturday morning we packed up and headed north along the 101, fighting heavy traffic every inch of the way. The trip up took twice the time it normally would so once we got there we headed up the road looking for a campsite immediately. We found a beautiful spot at 3000 feet elevation in the mountains overlooking the ocean. The temperature there was much hotter then down by the coast, but reasonable. The only problem was the flies. There were lots of small flies up there, plus a few mosquitoes. We set up the tent as quickly as possible, looked around for a short while, then dove into the tent. We spent a short time killing any flies that came in the tent with us then drifted off to sleep.
Sunday dawned hot and sunny. I rose with the sun and took a few pictures of the area in the dawn light. We struck camp quickly and drove downhill with a cloud of mosquitoes chasing us all the way. Down by the coast in the cool ocean air we found a pullout overlooking the pounding turquoise surf, and had some breakfast. After some food we drove up to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, to look at the McWay Creek Falls which pour onto the beach there. We weren’t quite sure where to head after that so we drove to the main Ranger Station in Big Sur and they pointed us to GarraPata State Park, where we would find spectacular fields of coastal wildflowers, towering headlands and hidden Coastal Redwood forests. We spent the balance of the day here hiking and taking pictures, the drove back south to find a camping spot for the night.
Given the heat and flies at the prettier camps high in the mountains we decided to camp much lower down the road at a large pullout. The pullout itself was very ugly, and not terribly flat, but the view down the valley to the ocean was wonderful and we could hear the stream running near us and the breaking surf in the distance. Also, there were no flies and the temperature couldn’t be beat. A couple of other groups joined us later on as they straggled in, but there was plenty of room.
Once again I rose with the dawn to take a few pictures then we had breakfast, broke camp and headed out for our last half day along the coast. We first drove a short way north to Limekiln State Park. This gem of a park nestles into a canyon with a fair sized stream which tumbles into the ocean. The camp sites here which are in the trees are gorgeous and the trails, while short, are spectacular. with some residual morning mist allowing the sun to create visible beams everywhere we wandered into a fairy land which we had all to ourselves this early. We took our time heading first up the falls trail, then to the limekilns. It is really quite difficult to explain how beautiful it was, and the pictures don’t do it justice. You will all have to go visit it someday yourselves. The fire damage which had closed the park earlier was much in evidence, and the canopy was not as thick as it had been previously, but there was a carpet of brilliant green clover everywhere, and the light filtered through the thin morning mist, creating a soft glow over everything.
Anyhow, we spent the morning there, then drove a short way south to a pullout which gave access to a rocky beach. A few pictures, lunch and a rest later it was time to drive home.
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