Sunday, March 2, 2014

Been Lazy (and Busy..)

So I've been neglecting my blog. I don't really know what to say for myself other that I've been busy, and when I'm not busy I'm really lazy. So there you have it. I'm in the midst of quitting my job, moving, and getting married so any down time I have is usually spent doing whatever the hell I want. Which lately has been staring at the wall and eating cookies.. Then I feel guilty because I figure I'm going to get fat and I've already ordered my dress, and how awkward would that be if it didn't fit on the big day.

I'm still adventuring around Big Sur, we actually had quite a bit of an adventure last weekend when we tried to hike to the Circular Pools. The hike is really easy for anyone who hikes a lot. Even if you don't hike a lot, I would imagine the most challenging part of this hike is the stream crossings. Right now, because of this awful drought, the crossings were really easy. The water is shallow, and if you don't mind getting wet you can just sort of trudge across the river quite safely. However, I did witness two people fall while crossing the river - one who was in our party had to be taken to the hospital. Before you freak out though, the person in our party isn't a hiker. She doesn't like hiking, she's never really gone hiking, and this was the first time she's hiked in a year. In fact, if her boyfriend hadn't tricked her into going -  she probably would have chosen to stay home. The point is however, be careful while crossing streams. I'm a total klutz so I ALWAYS pay attention while doing ANYTHING in the wilderness. Because our friend fell and hit her head before we got to the pools, we never actually made it. Although I'm determined to try again. It's a 8 mile round trip hike, so if you're not in shape it's probably going to be a bit strenuous, especially considering the streams and downed trees. The trail after Fish Camp isn't the best but certainly isn't the worst either. In terms of elevation change, it's relatively flat, and extremely flat by Big Sur standards. I am eager to try again, especially because it was so beautiful. The trail follows the Little Sur River, and you just kind of wind through the canyon. There were trout in the river, the river banks were so mossy they looked almost like something out of middle earth, and there were ferns and big trees galore. All I can think is that if the hike getting there was as pretty as it is the circular pools must be gorgeous. I'll update soon with pictures. I believe my Fiance has commandeered the flash disk that they're currently trapped on, but I'm not sure...   

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tassajara To Arroyo Secco

This was Brutal.

I'm not kidding. Brutal. It was hot, steep, dusty, 8 or 9 river/stream crossings, snakes, bugs, poison oak, trees and rocks to climb, you name it.

Our plan was to hike from Tassajara Zen Center to Arroyo Secco, where our friends would meet as at a drive in camp site with our gear. Then we'd all play for the day at the swimming holes, camp at Arroyo Secco that night, then Kevin and I would backpack our way back to Tassajara where we would rejuvenate ourselves in the hot springs. Sounds great right? Well...

We had a few problems with this trip. First of all we thought it was only 7 miles each way. It's more like 10.5. To be honest, we're not exactly sure how far we hiked this weekend, but we know it was closer to 20 miles than to 14. The trail maps for this area of the Ventana Wilderness are dodgy at best, and the trail signs and the maps did not match in terms of distance. Everything is fairly clearly marked however, so even if you weren't expecting a 20 mile trek, it would still be difficult to get lost. That is if you can manage to follow the remarkably unkempt trails that tend to disappear into the surrounding shrubbery every time there's a turn in the trail.

We had planned on starting early in the morning so we could take our time with the trip. We got a later start than we had hoped (which is usual), and we knew the road to Tassajara would be difficult and long, but it was more difficult and longer than we had allowed time for. All this meant we started hiking about midday. If you have ever spent any time at all in the Ventana Wilderness during the summer, you know what this means: unbearable heat. It must have been at least 85F with no shade for most of the hike. And due to our gross underestimation of the trip mileage, we had not brought enough water.

The trail starts out on a steep climb, which in high heat and no shade was enough for us to almost turn back after a particularly terrifying dizzy spell I experienced on a highly eroded section of the trail. However, after a moment to collect myself and a ton of water and salty snacks to raise my blood pressure, I decided we should press on. This hill is the most difficult part of this trail in both directions. Once at the top of the ridge, it goes right back down again; both sides of the hill (or should I say mountain?) the trail is fairly treacherous follows along exposed switchbacks. But once this part is over, the rest of the trail is great.

I wish my camera hadn't died because there were waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, and dramatic views of Los Padres National Forest. In fact, this might have been one of the most exciting trails I've done so far because of the sheer natural beauty of the Arroyo Secco River Gorge. It really felt like no one had been out there in years. Sometimes it even felt like no one had been there at all, and we were simply following deer trails through a remote wilderness. I saw at least 10 colorful garter snakes, and a slough of wildflowers I'd only ever seen in books before.

The Arroyo Secco Campground was definitely your standard county park. It'd be great for a group or family camp out since you have all the convinces you want, with plenty of swimming holes for entertainment. After hiking at least 10 miles in scorching heat, swimming in the river was beyond heavenly. I wanted to cool off so desperately I was actually the first one to dive in, leaving everyone else to carefully test the water with their toes.

The trip back was less harrowing, although I have never needed to take painkillers in order to hike out before. But at least we had plenty of water, and we knew what to expect. We made it to the Zen Center just in time for the last serving of lunch, which was vegan and amazing. Usually vegan food is the last thing I'm craving after a long hike, but this was definitely satisfying and left me feeling less disgusting than when I binge eat a large pizza by myself. Once we'd had time to eat and clean up, we explored the Zen Center and indulged ourselves in a long soak in their hot springs. It was absolutely beautiful. The grounds of the Zen Center would inspire even the most highly strung person to stop and take in the scenery. The hot springs themselves are spa style and sex segregated, with partitioned outdoor pools alongside the river. It was certainly a pleasant way to end what we had affectionately began to call a death march, and I'm sure those hot tubs eased our aching bodies even more than I fully realized, seeing as Monday morning was not nearly as dreadful as I'd originally anticipated.


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Big Sur River Gorge, Swiss Camp , and Partington Cove

This is the perfect weekend length adventure, although as it turns out...it's not an official campsite anymore so I highly suggest you don't do it.

We started out on Saturday by hiking up to the Big Sur River Gorge. I had a hankering for a summer swimming hole - and this satisfied that desire perfectly. It's about a mile hike round trip from the parking lot to the Gorge, only some of it is on a trail so I highly recommend wearing good water shoes so you can easily scramble over rocks and wade through the river. Once you're at the Gorge, it's beautiful, lively, and fun. It's a popular spot, so don't expect to be alone! But if you're looking for some fun in the sun - this is the perfect place to go.
Big Sur River Gorge

After the Gorge, we stopped at Nepenthe for drinks and appetizers on the front patio. The view is amazing, but the menu is expensive. Drinks and appetizers are less expensive than dinner, and are just as filling! Plus on a nice afternoon it's far more enjoyable to sit outside and enjoy the Big Sur Coastline.

Tan Bark Trail
Our Camp at Swiss Camp
After refueling, we headed south to Partington Cove. The trail head for the Tan Bark Trail is located on the East side of Highway one, directly opposite Partington Cove. We took the Tan Bark Trail up to Swiss Camp (which has been renamed, and is also not an official campsite anymore) where we camped for the night. Despite the fact that it was only about three miles to reach camp, it felt more like five. There's about a 1900ft elevation gain between the trail head and Swiss Camp. Basically, if you're worried you're heart might explode, do not attempt this hike.

We continued up the Tan Bark Trail (amazingly it continued uphill for about another half mile) to the Tin House, which was a pretty cool little detour. After exploring the Tin House, we headed back towards the where the Tan Bark Trail dead ends into a fire road (which finally starts the descent) that leads back to Highway 1. The last three-quarters of a mile on this loop are along Highway 1 to Partington Cove. It's a little sketchy, but in general I thought it would be a lot scarier than it was. As a bonus, while we were walking along Highway 1 we saw about five California Condors perched just above the highway.
 
Partington Cove
Waterfall at Partington Cove

Once back to where we parked the car, we ditched our gear, hydrated, and then did the short walk down the Partington Cove. We went up Partington Creek to the waterfall first, and then followed the trail back down and took the left fork across the bridge and through the tunnel to the cove.

In total it was probably about seven or eight miles total (the Swiss Camp Loop was about six of those). It turned out to be just about the perfect distance for us, seeing as we both had to return to work on Monday morning.

In summation: we will definitely be visiting the Big Sur River Gorge again, most likely with a six pack in hand for a lazy day at the river. And Partington Cove? It's the perfect picnic spot! However, due to the fact that we now realize that we were most likely squatting on public land - we won't be returning to camp at Swiss Camp. Having said that I highly recommend the hike to the Tin House (it has a great view and is just plain cool), especially via the Tan Bark Trail because it was so very beautiful. Just be prepared for downed trees and some unmaintained sections of trail since this trail was only reopened in 2012.

   

Friday, May 10, 2013

Monterey in the Rain



It had been stormy all day, and finally around sunset there seemed to be a break in the weather. Mid-walk, the weather blew back in and I got caught in the rain. Fortunately I didn't get soaked for nothing; I was treated to a beautiful twilight display.


Del Monte Beach in the Rain at Sunset, Monterey, California

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cats Fish


Getting Snuggles
This is Little Shit. Yes, that's her name. She is the resident cat on board the Capt John, a commercial fishing trawler based out of Moss Landing, California. She lives on board the boat in an effort to ward of mice, a centuries old tradition which apparently doesn't work too well if your cat gorges herself on fish.








Watching The Catch Being Unloaded
Moss Landing is surviving piece of Monterey Bays rich history of commercial fishing. You can still walk down to the dock and buy fish wholesale, sometimes straight from the boat.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Piece of Castroville


I pass these trees on my way to work in Moss Landing. I've nicknamed them the 'Dr. Seuss Trees.' You can see them along Highway 1 in Castroville, California, a town famous for growing artichokes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Stand Up Paddle Boarding and Ano Nuevo State Reserve

Yesterday I tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time. I've been wanting to try it since I moved to Monterey - and almost exactly a year later I finally get on one.

The weather had been so nice here this last week (in the 80s!) that my boyfriend and I decided we should try SUP this weekend. He had a Groupon for the SUP Shack in Santa Cruz, so he made the reservations and off we went.

The weather turned out to be suboptimal, with the coastal fog making a timely reappearance, but it didn't matter much. We took a quick lesson, and then were given the freedom to cruise the harbor on our paddle boards. I was surprised at how easily I picked it up. The first 15 minuets of being on the water were shaky, at best. But within those first 15 minutes I got the feel for the board, the knack for paddling, and even figured out how to steer (unless you ask my boyfriend).

After an hour paddling around the harbor, I was cold and hungry so we decided to go get lunch at the Samba Rock Acai Cafe (Yelp), then head on to Año Nuevo State Reserve near Pescadero.

Two Male Elephant Seals Having a Tiff

Island with the Old Lighthouse Keepers House
The hike out to see the elephant seals is about 3-4 miles around trip, and there are plenty of volunteers along the way to answer questions and provide interesting information about history and wildlife of the area. The weather made the place a little eerie, especially with the big old lighthouse keeper's dilapidated house staring at us from the island, and the hoards of sea gulls screaming in the air above us.

In stark contrast to the surrounding environment, the elephant seals provide almost comical entertainment. Their big dopey eyes and protruding noses giving their faces a uniquely silly expression. The guttural sounds the males make to communicate with each other reminded me of old men in a snoring contest, while the females would occasionally charm in with noises I could best equate to the happy chirruping sounds my cat makes when it's dinner time.

We stayed out at the end of the trail just watching the elephant seals for quite sometime, occasionally laughing and aww-ing when they would do something silly or cute. Children and grandparents alike would find the endearing animals fascinating and entertaining.