Day 42 (2016-10-07): ~36 miles from Big Sur Campground & Cabins to Plaskett Creek State Park.
Typical morning, chatting with the UK folks makes it rather nice. Today I’m pulling the Camelback out and strapping it to my front rack so that I can carry an extra 2 liters of water. I may go off and hike along the way and don’t want to run out.
My first stop today is the McKay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The campground here is closed but a short walk to the beautiful McCay Falls is open and I have a spectacular view of a beach waterfall. Imagine, this use to be the view from the bedroom of the Waterfall house, where Julia Pfeifer (later married, hence the Pfeiffer-Burns) grew up. I may have this fact wrong, but she was orphaned at age 15 and inherited 10 million dollars. Decades ago. Talk about set up for success!
Today is again brutally sunny and rather warm – I dropped my layers within the first three miles and am now riding shirtless and just my bike shorts. Evening out that tan, you know? I feel the weird looks people give me at viewpoints and such but I don’t give a damn. I want to see those people out here hauling 50 pounds of gear up these hills. Then they can judge.
Rolling into Lucia I know it is only a couple of miles to Limekiln State Park which may or may not have hiker-biker sites, I don’t remember. Either way it’s only a few more miles after that to Kirk Creek and then a couple more to Plaskett. I’m not sure where I will stay yet. The plan is to inquire about hikes, waterfalls, swimming, and hot springs and go from there. Regardless, I know I am most of the way through the day and done the majority of the climbing so I stop and search for a frozen treat. This shop and restaurant is the only thing here and they charge like it $3.50 for a Klondike bar and 4.50 for “specialty” frozen treats. I’ll stick with the coconut fruit bar for $3.00.
Shortly after Lucia I pull into Limekiln State Park and speak with the attendant about my options. There are no hiker-biker here but Kirk Creek and Plaskett Creek both have hiker biker sites. However, there is a waterfall only a short 1/2 mile hike from the campground here so I park my bike, grab my Camelback with snacks and a towel, and head off towards the creek surrounded by young redwoods.
As I approach the falls the few people here begin to leave. I am alone. This is my spot. I navigate the last few feet up to the falls, climbing boulders and fallen trees to find a pool of water just wide and dark enough to know this is it. I’ve found the elusive water hole. I clamber up, set my stuff down, and strip. No one’s around but I put my swim trunks on, knowing it would be easy for someone to come up without me noticing. Cold, very cold. But not so cold as the ocean and a thousand times more refreshing. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for weeks, and today my dream comes true!
It’s wonderful here, nothing but the sound of the water crashing down and nothing to see except this spot. Hidden behind a campground with $10 day use fee, this is the perfect hidden gem. I could imagine spending hours here reading, writing, and just thinking. I don’t though – a young couple comes up and after taking their photo I yield the space so they too can enjoy this wonder. I hope Joe and Sophie come through and discover this place.
I hike back to the bike feeling rejuvenated. And once the shammy comes off it doesn’t go back on, so I’m feeling even better. It turns out Joe and Sophie came through and left me a note but did not venture down the trails. Kirk Creek Campground is only 2.5 miles down the road but no water – they’ve gone on to Plaskett. It’s only another 8 miles and I am feeling like a million bucks. So I turn up the music, climb the short, steep road out of the park, and kick it for a half hour to Foster the People’s Torches album. Nothing can stop me now!
The last 8 miles blow by thanks to the good feelings and flatter terrain. I roll into camp and after some putting around we all head down to the beach. It’s a beautiful cove and the wind is down, making this one of the rare times I could quietly walk the beach in warmth and comfort. I gave Joe and Sophie some space and wandered until my stomach demanded dinner, then returned to the campsite.
Dinner tonight was pretty basic because I am low on supplies and there has not been a decent store since Monterrey but it turned out well. I boiled some water then added the last of my couscous along with some of my homemade chili spice and the leftover “Mediterranean” spice packet from one of those Middle East brand couscous boxes I bought a while back. Add to that the last of the cheese and a bit of avocado and you get a surprisingly meal. I washed it down with a Snickers covered in peanut butter and then blacked out and came to with a sense of guilt and an almost-empty jar of peanut butter. Damnit, not again!
I pulled my deck of cards out for only the second or third time in the trip and we played a few rounds of Rummy before calling it a night. Today had a bit of everything: brutal sun, big climbs, sweet descents, waterfalls, music, sweets, beautiful scenery, good company, and even a colorful sunset and a clear view of the heavens. Perhaps my favorite day so far.
P.S. Everything is big in Big Sur. Big hills, big curves, big rocky cliffs, big bugs, big prices…big everything!