We all (but one) broke the law today.
But that came late in the morning, long after our start. That start saw us descend on the highway through sections of the Sur coast that are obviously on the move. Cracks and depressions can be found on the highway proper; the cut slope above just looks unstable. In some spots, the cliffs above the highway are covered with chain-link material in an attempt to keep falling rocks from tumbling onto the highway. Also along these areas, CalTrans has survey control points to monitor the highway?s movement. I later talked with a CalTrans worker out of the Willow Springs CalTrans yard at Gorda. He indicated that there were 27 active slides in his area alone.
Then we broke the law. Arriving at the campground at Kirk Creek an hour and a half or so after our breakfast coffee, we were confronted with the sign: ?Restroom Closed to the General Public.? Here is a restroom paid for by public funds in a public campground, but only those who have paid the $18 camping fee are allowed to use it. Further, even they can?t use it from 10 am to dusk when it is just plain closed. What goes on here? It seems that it is not the Forest Service who is in charge of this Forest Service camp but a private company, a concessionaire, named ?Parks Management Company?. What is going on here is that the profit motive is at work. What an unfortunate turn of events when an enterprise such as camping that was never supposed to have anything to do with profit is sacrificed upon the altar of privatization.
Continuing along the highway, we went out of the Mill Creek drainage, up and over into the Wild Cattle Creek drainage and an area known as Pacific Valley. In this area, there is a broad coastal terrace, which gave us an opportunity to get off the highway for three miles or so, according to the book. We crossed the fence by means of a stile and walked cross-country. Sometimes we couldn?t tell if CCT in this area means California Coastal Trail or Coastal Cattle Trail. A good hint that we were on the latter was that all of the trails seemed to radiate from water troughs. We kept to the bluff as much as possible and then had our lunch in the shade along the banks of Prewitt Creek. We continued our bluff walking past Sand Dollar Beach ? looking down at the white sand and clear water from high on our bluff -top position was like looking down upon a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.
We continued off highway, made a very steep descent into and ascent out of Plaskett Creek and found our way through the brush to the obvious trail from the highway to Jade Cove. ?Hiking the California Coastal Trail? indicates that the bluff top trail continues on from here, but this is no longer so. After some bushwhacking attempts, we were forced back to the highway, which we then took in the heat of the afternoon some three miles to Gorda. (Jon Breyfogle; photos by Linda Hanes)
Left: Sand Dollar Beach. Right: Walking into sunrise and a hot day.