I left Big Basin at the crack of dawn, excited to get my day started. The plan for today was to get back to the coast and the 1 freeway and take the “17 mile drive” near Carmel. After that, go straight into Big Sur and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It was a cold, grey day as I set out but I actually preferred the weather this way. When I left for this trip (early Sept.), it was hot and sunny as if it were the middle of summer (granted, I was also traveling through SoCal); but now, winter was approaching and some days it was already here in full force. The scenic “17-Mile Drive” is located right by the famous Pebble Beach golf course. The drive itself is fun and easy as there are little stops along the way where you can enjoy the views.
Scenes from the 17-Mile Drive:
…and at the very end, you see one of the rarest trees in the world, a Monterey Cypress:
Driving up to Big Sur was a trip. I had to drive through Monterey and Carmel where the traffic was so congested it took nearly an hour to get only a couple miles. I stopped at the grocery store before the entrance and loaded up on supplies, food and a spare gas can. (I was starting to get paranoid and anxious about trekking through Big Sur with all the road closures and rock slides). It couldn’t temper my excitement though as I left the main road and began my journey into the mist.
I made it to Big Sur and it was fucking worth the wait! Since I am doing this on my return journey: the road is open, the campgrounds are empty and I also feel better about my camping/survival skills. The experience I gained at the other campsites is invaluable as I make my way farther into this great expanse that is Big Sur. – October 18, 2017, 6:03pm, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur
I hiked up to “Rooster’s Peak” which was about 800’ up. While not the highest peak I have done, it was certainly one of the most difficult as it was straight uphill with no flat ground really to speak of. The view made it more than worthwhile though. The mountains rose at my back as I ascended the trail. The sea became more and more visible in front of me as I got higher. When I reached the peak, I found a young man up there who happened to be on his own “solo self-discovery journey.” Hailing from New York, Charlie was a huge nerd like myself. I could tell because he said that the hike reminded him of Lord of the Rings which I had been thinking basically the entire way up. The view at the top was absolutely stunning. Rolling hills and lush, green forest everywhere you looked. The ocean was a huge expanse of water that seemed close but as you looked deeper, you realized how far away it actually was from the top of the peak. I imagined myself as a great condor landing on the peak, looking out over the forest to the great ocean beyond. The wind was blowing steady but it felt calm up there, reverent. I thought a lot about my journey up there and about how far I had come. Charlie and I talked about places we had been and places we needed to see and then we just sat there, basking in the peace and quiet of the mountaintop. – October 18, 2017, 6:03pm, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur
On the way back down, I rounded a corner and a large stag was there standing on the path in front of me. It sensed my presence and sauntered off with me following in tow. I began to feel a sense of fear but also excitement as I followed the stag down the path. It looked back at me several times as if to check that I was still with him. His horns held high in the air and his gait like that of a king walking through his garden. The great stag finally began to walk up a hill where I could not follow. I watched him gracefully ascend higher into the mountain but before he left my vision, he turned and stared at me. It was as if he was staring straight into my soul. -October 18, 2017, 6:03pm, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Big Sur
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is by far one of the nicest and coolest State Parks I stayed at this entire trip. Each campsite is packed with beautiful trees and there is a river that runs right through the campgrounds. It’s as idyllic a spot as possible and I already feel the pull to stay a day longer than I had planned. There is just too much to see.
I got a nice, deep sleep that first night in Big Sur. The calm of that place is something I remember more than anything. Sleeping in my camper, the only sounds were that of owls hooting and the river flowing.