Monday, May 14, 2007

Big Basin to the Sea

May 12, 2007
12-13 miles
Hiking time: 6 ½ hours
Graciela, Barbara, Julie

This was another amazing hike. I did it once years ago and we had chosen the higher route to Howard King Trail – which was hot and dry chaparral terrain. Reading a book the night before I got really excited about taking the other route which sounded much greener.

The date didn’t work for most of the hikers, though Jane and Tara tried really hard to make it happen. In the morning I thought it would just be Graciela and I, but Barbara called at the last minute and then we were three.

Barbara and I caught the bus at 9:05 in Felton. Graciela was already on the bus, which was quite crowded. There is only one bus in the morning that goes all the way to Big Basin.

I noticed a young couple with a big suitcase, the kind with wheels. I wondered where they had arrived from. When they didn’t get off at Boulder Creek, I asked him if he was staying at a cabin in Big Basin. He replied, “No, we’re camping”. He was a UCSC student and didn’t have a backpack – so they were camping out of a suitcase. What a unique approach – as Barbara said later – he will probably have an interesting life.

We reached headquarters at Big Basin at 9:45. The line was too long to get a new map. The store wasn’t quite open, so we decided to just use my old map. I hadn’t brought the best map, since I always try to get new trail maps – it’s interesting the see how they change.

We stopped and tried to determine how to begin. The beginning is always a little confusing. There the sign says 12 miles to Waddell Beach – though other signs had said 10.5. We saw the young couple rolling their suitcase off to their campsite, cute as can be.

We walked through the campfire circle at Big Basin which was very nice. Then we climbed up to Skyline to the Sea trail. Barbara and I shared
memories of previous trips – both of us wanting to avoid past trails that were less than pleasant, but not sure what those trails were. When we got to the top of the ridge we debated one last time about taking Sunset trail – but decided on the more direct route of Skyline to the Sea.

Big Basin has trail maps at trail junctions, but the most relevant area is always blanked out. An odd piece of vandalism – which I had forgotten about. Once again, I wish I had brought the better map.


This part of the trail was through beautiful redwoods. The trail wound up and down. Banana slugs were plentiful – though Barbara worried about the dry conditions for them. She “watered” one as an experiment, but couldn’t tell if it helped.

People describe this hike as being all “down hill”. The hiking book had an elevation loss of 1100’ feet, but let me tell you – there is definitely some elevation on this hike. It was beautiful and much more picturesque than I remembered. When we reached Kelly Creek the ferns were incredibly lush. We stopped to look at some dead redwoods and tried to determine what killed them. If anyone knows –please respond in the comments box.




Barbara’s son wanted photos to make into screen savers for his two computers, so she was on a mission. Taking continuous shots in different areas. Graciela was
always trying to take alternate routes – climbing over logs and inside of trees.

We took a quick break at a lovely spot beside the
creek. We were moving at a fairly leisurely pace, stopping along the way. It was four miles to Berry Creek Falls and we figured that we would have lunch there. We came to the trail junction a little before noon – but this was the Timm’s Creek junction. That meant we were only ½ way to Berry Creek Falls. It was a freak out moment.

Barbara remembered that this first part took a long time – but the second part after the falls went quickly. It was like being in the Bermuda Triangle of hiking - time and distance was becoming distorted.

We picked up the pace and reached the bench across the creek from Berry Creek Falls at
12:20. The bench was open so we chose this as our lunch spot. It has a nice view of the falls.

A group of high school backpackers came
up and I told them about the platform under the falls. After a quick lunch, Barbara wanted to go to the base of Berry Creek Falls.

The platform was completely covered with teenage bodies and equipment. Barbara said, “It’s a shame not to see the other falls – they aren’t that far away”. I felt we were already short on time, but everyone was willing to push on up to the waterfalls – so I said sure. I do love
waterfalls.

Some hikers on the trail told us, we were probably about 30 minutes away. Up we went.The trail followed the creek. Barbara remembered Golden Falls as being spectacular, but they weren’t as golden with the red mud at this season. To get there you climb up stone steps cut out of the rock. The last time I did this hike the water was rushing right next to the steps. This time there was plenty of room. The waterfalls had enough water in them to make them pretty, but they weren’t overflowing.



We climbed up the steps holding onto the cable. It was sunny at Golden Falls, so I stripped down, put on sunscreen and wet my sarong for around my neck. Graciela was already
settling down – thinking we were going to stay awhile – but this was
just a quick visit. It was back down the steep steps for us.




The second time we came to Berry Creek Falls the platform was completely empty. We
stopped to enjoy the view.













Then back down to Skyline to Sea Trail. This next portion of the trail is next to the creek and was also lovely. The ferns were lush. We decided “verdant” was the word for this part of the trail.

We passed the bike rack. Many folks park at Waddell Creek and bike up Skyline to the Sea. It seemed a trail that even I could do on a bike. It’s an easy ways to have access to the waterfalls.
Several bikers passed us on the way down.

There are three “backpacking” camps along Waddell Creek. The first was filled with the high school kids we had seen on the trail. I was thankful I wasn’t camping there. We were pushing our time limit to catch the bus. I couldn’t remember if it came at 5:00 or 5:15.

On the road there was a sign saying “hikers take trail, bikers and horses take road”. Barbara wanted to stay on the road, but I thought it would be better to take the trail. No bikes.

The trail led us back through the camp and over a bridge. Up we climbed. Elevation? Where did
the creek go? The trail also seemed to go off in the opposite direction. We kept climbing higher. It was 4:30 and we could see we had a long way yet to go. We caught a view of the beach in the distance. Quite a far distance for 4:30. I liked the trail, though I was pushing up the pace. Barbara was less happy with the terrain. This was a nature trail – with numbers that must correspond to a handout. We just knew we were getting closer to the end. I was finally calling out the last numbers. “Here’s number four.” “Here’s number three,” "Number two.”
“Number one!” and we were out.

Of course out was just the parking lot – we still had to walk a mile out to Highway one and the
bus stop. We got to the bus stop at 4:55 and found out the bus didn ’t come until 5:15 p.m. Twenty minutes to run into the ocean. We had made it! The ocean was filled with kite surfers. We had someone take our victory photo.

A moment I always look forward to is taking my
boots off after a long hike. I stripped them off and ran down to the icy surf. It felt great on the tootsies. Graciela joined me in the surf. Barbara sat on a log serenely eating fruit. We had done it.

The wind was so strong I felt I could hold out my sarong and nearly lean back into it. I changed into my Tevas. Graciela teased me about all the unnecessary weight I was carrying in my daypack. It is true – it “go heavy”. But I loved not having to put those boots back on.

We got on the bus. The view out of the window was nice. Pleasant to just sit and look at the ocean. We had a few minutes at the metro center, bid farewell to Graciela and got onto the bus to Felton. The seat was very hard. There were “interesting” people on the bus. It was all part of the journey.

Barbara and I went to the Trout Farm for Bloody Marys. She was instantly spotted by a friend’s son and had some guy quickly join her when I went to get the drinks. We toasted a successful hike and called it a day.

This hike exceeded my expectations and memories. It was interesting and challenging. I love that we pushed ourselves to see the waterfalls. I will gladly do this hike again.

Four Lessons Learned: Bring your best map. This particular trail enters a space time continuum with ever-changing distances and times - expect to be confused. Push for the waterfalls. A hot bath is just the ticket after a long hike!

1 comment:

Ray said...

Hi Julie,
Good to see you're still at it. Great description!

We had a wonderful time on this trip when I took the Troop a couple of years ago. We may do it again next month.

I'm even thinking maybe the Trinity Alps in August - Ryan wants to go back. Are you up for it?

-Ray