Friday, February 9, 2007

Mt. Carmel - August 2006

August 2006
Mt. Carmel, Big Sur
10 miles, 2500 elevation gain
Graciela, Julie

This is known as the hike from hell. I talked Graciela into doing this hike on the last day of my month off. I had read about the Mt. Carmel hike for years with its spectacular panoramic view. When you reached the top, there was a “conveniently placed” telephone pole and a giant boulder that you could climb to get the view.

I had always wanted to see Botcher Gap campground as well. The hike started creek side, but then it was a relentless, hot climb through chaparral. The guide book described great views of Pico Blanco – a supposedly white mountain that we never could identify. We did come out on a plateau with a lovely view. We should have stopped there – but we pushed onto the “summit”.

We were supposed to ignore a spur trail, but take the trail to the left at a fork. Then we would climb to the summit. Instead, we went down and down. On an out-and-back hike I knew what you go down you must come back up, but we kept looking for the “fork.” Finally, I said enough and we climbed back up that trail. I had all but given up on the summit.

The second time I realized that what I had taken for the spur trail was actually the ever allusive “fork” It was getting late, but we decided to climb to the top. I knew I wouldn’t be coming back on this hike.

The last mile was through Manzanita taller than our heads – with barely a tunnel to crawl through. Graciela got scratched and tried to protect her legs. It was very claustrophobic and a bit spooky since you couldn’t see where you were going. Finally we achieved the Summit!

The telephone pole lay on the ground broken in half and eaten by termites. The “giant boulder” was barely big enough for Graciela and I to stand on at the same time. You felt like a groundhog popping your head up trying to see over the brush for the “spectacular” view. We had a good laugh over it during our late lunch.

We still had to get out of there. Even though it was mostly downhill – it was a long way down. We barely got out before dark. We stopped at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing for a well deserved dinner. Our friend Sarah and her bluegrass band were just finishing playing. It was a good end to a hellishly long hike.

Lesson Learned: Making it to the top isn’t always worth the effort.

September 2006

Soda Springs and Lower Buckeye Trail – Big Sur

3 miles, 750 feet elevation gain

Josephine, Julie

Jo and I did this hike while camping at Kirk Creek. This hike has some beautiful views of the coast from the bluffs. Then we descended down towards Salmon Creek Falls. The trail kept getting more and more overgrown with branches that you had to push through. We had lunch at Salmon Creek Falls – which was more of a trickle than a fall. Salmon Creek had lots of algae and was barely flowing.

We decided to hike back along Highway One rather than facing fighting our way back up through the jungle. There was a spectacular farm or complex with a swimming pool and outbuildings perched on the cliffs Walking against the traffic was a little scary – we had to carefully time a few of the narrow spots – but it gave you a different perspective than driving in a car. You still got great views of the coast.

Lesson Learned: Bring your clippers when hiking in Big Sur.

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