Monday, September 24, 2007

Andrew Molera - Big Sur Coast

Beach – Bluffs – Spring Trails
6 miles
Hiking time: 3 hours
Bill and Julie

Bill and I were planning on backpacking at the Jenny Lakes Wilderness area in the Sierras – but when we heard storms were coming in with rain and possibly snow we decided to cancel the trip. Instead we went for a day hike to our favorite beach at Andrew Molera in Big Sur. Bill and I have been on this hike several times and we usually have the beach to ourselves. This was my third weekend in Big Sur in a row.

We left Lompico at a leisurely 10:00 a.m. and after picking up sandwiches in Carmel Valley, we were at Andrew Molera by noon. I parked on the road and we walked down the hill saving $8.00. I kept my Teva’s on until we had crossed the river. The last time Tara, Paula and I hiked here the bridge was down and you had to ford the river. The bridge was still up – so I suspect they keep it up through September.

I sat down to put on my hiking boots. When I pulled out my rolled up hiking socks I discovered that one was a shrunken wool sock that I could barely get on my foot. I finally squeezed into it and we were off.

All the photos for this hike were taken on our cell phones. Bill was having some technical difficulties with his in the beginning – so there aren’t too many pictures of me – or not ones that can be posted on the blog.

We started on the Beach Trail – which is always crowded and very popular. It’s a mile to the main beach through golden grassy fields. We saw a small skunk off the side of the trail which is quite unusual to see during the daytime. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a skunk on a hike before. We skirted around him carefully – I tried to get a picture of him, but the resolution wasn't good enough and not worth getting sprayed over.

I always think of the hike to “our beach” as just being a quick two miles – but it is actually two miles from the beach. I always forget about that first mile. We passed a family and several other hikers and were glad to get on the Bluffs trail. We saw a young Australian couple and I took their picture for them, but otherwise we didn’t see any hikers on the Bluffs Trail.

The Bluffs Trail has a great view of the beach, but also of the Santa Lucia foothills. I think of this as an ocean hike – but the golden mountains are spectacular as well. The trail is fairly level though once again it was further than I remembered. You had a clear view of Pico Blanco and finally for the first time I clearly recognize it. In the past I was never sure which peak it was.

We enjoyed the hike, but my ankles were tweaking a bit and I was anxious to get to the beach and my sandwich. We hit the intersection with the spring trail. From here it is only a quick .1 down a steep grade to the beach. There were beautiful yellow wildflowers that I hadn’t seen before on other hikes.

At the entrance to the beach there is always a jumble of driftwood you have to climb over to reach the beach. People build driftwood structures and rock sculptures on this beach.

There was no one else on the beach, I stripped and jumped in the water. The surf was breaking close to the beach – so I couldn’t get too far into the water. The sand flies on the beach were a bit annoying. I decided to get dressed but not before Bill snapped a naked-Julie-eating-a-sandwich shot. (Not to be posted on the blog or anywhere else for that matter). I got dressed about the time the Australians arrived. It’s a large beach so we had our privacy – with other hikers staying at the far end of the beach.

After lunch I walked north up the beach. The cliffs were interesting and you could see different rock layers. Around a point is another beach. This one has a sand dune at the end. The last time Bill and I were here we had run down that sand dune. There were still faint tracks on the dune and I liked to think that they were still from Bill and I, but a rather doubt it.

I came back to our spot on the beach and decided to christen the new journal I had bought the week before at Nepenthe. I went to a driftwood structure built up against a rock. It was quite comfortable and provided protection from the sun and flies as well as lots of privacy. I sunbathed and wrote in my journal.

The sand in this area was purple. My feet were covered by what looked like purple glitter. I discovered a purple rock nearby which must be the source of the sand.

The Australian couple left and a new couple arrived. The guy started building a driftwood sculpture and the woman started stacking stones. Bill and I were content to be much less ambitious and just soak up the sun and the beautiful views. There was an unusual amount and variety of algae offshore. When I got back in the water it would wrap around my ankles as the tide pulled out. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

We watched some sort of slow moving military plane fly by. Kinda creepy. We spent two and a half lovely hours at the beach and then started cleaning off the sand. I squeezed my foot back into that silly shrunken sock.

Another beautiful day in Big Sur.

The hike back was warm and went fairly quickly. We cut through Creamery Meadows and had great views of the foothills. I saw the Molera hike I want to do next – on the far side of Highway One – the East Molera Trail. We came back on the Beach Trail and once again there were lots of beach goers. We saw two deer grazing by the river. We were back to the car in no time.

The drive back down Big Sur was beautiful. We stopped to get gas in Carmel Valley and several people asked us how to get to the Monterey Jazz Festival. We must have looked like locals.

The traffic was bad at Moss Landing so we decided to push onto Watsonville for our post celebratory dinner and drink. After enjoying a nice dinner we walked out to rain and saw thunder and lightening in the distance. I was glad we were heading to our cozy home rather than a wet tent! It had been a long wonderful day.

Lessons Learned: As Kurt Vonnegut says “unexpected travel plans are dancing lesson from God.” Don’t wash wool socks in hot water. It may be hard to get Bill off the mountain – but he always has a great time at the beach.

1 comment:

Canucktions said...

Ya know, It may be hard to get Bill off the Mountain (Hi Bill), but Bill always has a good time at the beach. Yep, "Let's go to the beach and look at the stars, so says Bob!".

I dare say - "Another fine Hike.".

Your Crazy Canuck.