Where the Air Tastes Good
Trip Start Jun 22, 2010
27Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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Summer, especially early summer, is not the nicest time in Monterey. I know it is counterintuitive and I have learned that most tourists struggle to comprehend how June can be one of our cooler months. I will spare you the climate and geography lesson, just know the term "June Gloom" is used to describe the persistent fog and cloud cover that dominate this time of year
Since my husband had explored Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with a friend, I decided this was a good opportunity to check it out. Part of the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH also Highway 1) washed out in early spring. Between that and a rainy winter, it had been months since we ventured down to the glorious place. Still I wonder if I could ever drive down to Big Sur and not be dazzled. It is one of, if not the most gorgeous place I have ever been. The road winds between mountains and rocky coastal headlands. At times, the highway is perched precariously above high cliffs that allow you to drive at the same height condors and hawks fly. The Pacific water below looks deceptively warm with shades of indigo, turquoise and deep blue
The most trafficked trail at this park travels to Pfeiffer Falls. The trail begins with a beautiful redwood grove flanking the sides of a brook. The quickest route to Pfeiffer Falls has been closed for a couple years due to a wild fire, but the Valley View trail also provides easy access. I crossed a small footbridge in front of the falls. Two streams of water flowed down one cliff then met on a narrow ledge before continuing down to the creek below. I then continued the hike on the Valley View Trail and looked down to the Big Sur River and the narrow valley below. The hike took about an hour, but I was hungry for more. My Big Sur Trail book described a 3 mile trail, Buzzards Roost that climbs the western mountain that separated Big Sur River from the sea. I began walking along the side of the river through more redwood trees. The trail began to climb up the mountain and I got to better comprehend the height of some of the trees as I glanced down to the river below. I would not describe the climb as strenuous, but the incline was steep enough to keep more hikers at bay as I passed a lot fewer people than on the previous trail. At the top of the mountain, I glanced out to the sparkling ocean. It was also a great place to observe the gorgeous mountain bordering the east side of the Big Sur River. Most of the trail was a loop and it was nice to take a new path of longer switchbacks on the way down. It was a little after four o’clock when I finished the hike and I knew I needed to get back soon to start dinner. However, I felt like my fun was just beginning, so on the way home I plotted a return trip the next day
Sadly, many of California’s State Parks are slotted to close after this summer. Limekiln State Park, situated about thirty miles south of Pfeiffer Big Sur Park is one of these places. I had only ventured on this portion of the PCH during my house hunting trip to Monterey and was anxious to explore it in a more relaxed manner. Despite driving most of the route the day before, it was just as enjoyable. In fact, at one point a few tears filled my eyes as I thought of moving away from this part of the country, Is it possible for a place to break your heart? Luckily, the sadness passed and the landscape renewed my spirit.
Limekiln is a small park with only three short trails that meander along the floor of one of the Pacific’s steepest coastal canyons on the West Coast. Lots of tents and campers dotted the sites along the beautiful creek and near the beach. The main trail begins by following the creek before each trails divides to follow a separate branch of that creek. Each trail is less than a mile round trip. All of the trails are lined with redwood groves and filled with sound of rushing and bubbling water. Streaks of sunshine penetrated the tree cover and I breathed in the smell of the forest. I don’t know if I could have been more content
As I was reluctant to end my day of exploration, I continued driving about twenty more minutes until I was forced to turn around (due to a landslide, Highway 1 near Gorda was closed). I turned up an O.A R. CD and began driving back home. As the sun shone into the car, I could tell that despite putting on sunscreen that I was a little burned. Yet I could not bring myself to close the sunroof. The sun, the air, the scenery, it was all completely euphoric. Part of me kicked myself for not foregoing the guilt that my husband was at school and the slight anxiousness of hiking alone sooner. However, I simultaneously delighted in the knowledge that I am perfectly happy with solo adventures. And maybe just maybe, there will be enough time to explore it all.