We were ready at 8:30 or so to begin at the north side of the Bixby Bridge. Joining us under overcast skies were our leaders for the day Henrietta Stern and Tom Biggs, Monterey County Coordinator Teri Bradley, Andrea McGee (daughter of ranger John McGee) and Celia Bosworth who read about our walk in the local newspaper and wanted to walk a day with us.
We abandoned Highway One and its narrow shoulders and busy traffic for the Old Coast Road, a well graded dirt road running in the steep terrain east of the highway. The day began with one of Jeff Norman?s ?reverse descents?. By the end of the day we will have accumulated elevation changes totaling about 2000 feet up and down, a marked change from the relatively flat walk we had since Montara Mountain in San Mateo County.
As we walked up the Bixby and Sierra Creek drainages we departed the coastal scrub areas to enter groves of redwoods with scattered maples and sycamores. Attaining the ridge between Sierra Creek and the Little Sur River we stood in the silence of an enormous landscape. Only the wind made any sound at all as it rustled the vegetation.
We ascended a well wooded north facing slope, then descended to the Little Sur River on a dryer south facing slope. Here the grasslands are interspersed with occasional trees in the little side hill drainages. They present classic California summertime colors ? olive and dark green trees together with the grey tinged golden grass.
After our descent we crossed the Little Sur River and the South Fork of the Little Sur River on Bailey bridges. We passed through the El Sur ranch where signs warned us of the perils of trespassing and the fate that awaits trespassers or even one so indolent as to loiter. A patrolling employee of the ranch in antennae studded SUV checked us out.
Lunch was on the South Fork on the Little Sur Trail to the Ventana Wilderness. Our afternoon repeated our morning as we traveled up and over a ridge and into the Big Sur drainage and down to Andrew Molera State Park.
After a rest back at camp we all adjourned to a group picnic area at Pfeiffer Big Sur Park where Gary Nelson and his crew at the park treated us to a sumptuous barbeque. Not only were fed well on tri-tip, chicken, salmon and all the trimmings, salads and deserts one could wish for, but we took away for another meal all the left overs we could carry. Thank you Gary and crew! (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)
Left: El Sur Ranch from the Old Coast Road. Right: Redwoods along the Old Coast Road.