Monday, August 11, 2008

Carmel River Trail

June 2008
Carmel Valley Backpack
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation: ????
Julie and Bill

I had trouble posting this before I left in July, but now that this area has been burned, I thought I would put up some of the pictures. When we looked at a map of the fire - it looked like this area had been badly burned. Which is really sad, because it was such a wonderful camp. We'll have to hike in and see what's left.

This was a 3 day back pack that Bill and I did in June. The Big Sur book described it as "easy and good for children". We figured being only 4 miles out, if it was terrible we could just turn around and head back out. We took the "easy" too much to heart and packed incredibly heavy packs for two days. Nothing is easy when your pack is too heavy.

Carmel Valley is so close to Santa Cruz that this is an ideal weekend getaway. You start at the San Pedro dam after driving along Carmel Valley Road past multi million dollar houses and through the "slums" - a dilapidated old trailer park right before the trail head. We got a late start at the trail head, so we were hiking in the heat of the day.

It took us much longer than we anticipated to hike the 3 miles to Bluff camp. Elevation, narrow trails, unmarked trails in the beginning, the heat of the day and heavy packs made it a long hike. You start out crossing the dam and hiking above the reservoir. The trail is narrow with steep drop offs. We came upon an "unofficial" campsite, which we thought was Bluff Camp. When we got to Bluff Camp we thought we had reached River Camp and decided we would stay even after we realized our mistake.

Photos of the actual campsite didn't come out too well, but it is a large campsite with sites on both sides of the river. The trees were beautiful and varied. Large groups could be accommodated in both camps. No one was there on Friday night except two guys coming in late. On Saturday a large group arrived.

The camp is right on the river. We day hiked up to River Camp the next day and didn't like it nearly as much. It was dark and the mosquitoes were extremely heavy. I took a quick dip but then we headed back to Bluff camp. There was a swing in Bluff Camp made of rope, which wasn't comfortable, but I took a couple of swings on it.

We headed out Sunday morning and it was a quick hike out, now that our packs were much lighter. We decided that this would be a great quick weekend getaway. Loved the place. Now who knows? We stopped and took this picture at the Whole Enchilada in Moss Landing. It was a great little trip.

Lesson Learned: Appreciate what you have before it goes up in smoke!

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