Just Don't Go Back To Big Sur (USA Day 136)
We met Big Sur today, and he really left an impression on us. He’s a tall fellow, deeply tanned with misty eyes, and he lives by the sea somewhere south of Monterey. Life’s been a bit up and down for him recently. There’s high points aplenty, but he’s seen quite a few falls too. I think his first name’s Cliff, although you don’t want to call him that to his face. He gets plenty of visitors, though he doesn’t seem to react much to their presence. You get the impression that Big Sur would go on being Big Sur whether we paid him any heed or not. He plays quite a bit of bridge.
Today was phenomenal, and not just because we made a new friend. 61 miles of stunning coastline: every metre either uphill or down. No flats. The largest two hills, at the beginning and end of Big Sur, required more patience than strength, but we had ample of both today, with a tank constantly refilled by the stunning ocean views and thrilling downhill romps that coursed around clifftops and swung into kelp-clad coves. We saw our share of otters, though none quite as close or furry as yesterday, so let’s move on to the really exciting spots: a gargantuan Californian Condor, swooping low, its white belly almost frighteningly sharp, its wings unsettlingly still. We’d been told they were similar enough to confuse with vultures. Well, not from our angle. We only saw it for a few seconds, and only with upward glances as we held our slight shoulder and tried not to de-cliff, but that was enough. My heart felt as if it had been gripped by one of those gnarled talons. What an experience.
Not to be topped, we then spotted a pod of four dolphins, cresting waves just off the coast. Whether they were travelling, fishing or just playing about, they put on quite the show. When a large wave bulged up, at least one of them would catch the surf and swim sideways through it, caught within the body of water, until it broke and they dived beneath.
We’ve only had a few days with more climbing than this. It totalled just over five thousand feet, but broken into dozens of smaller hills and only a few medium ones, so it didn’t feel tremendously difficult. Once we’d settled in the Hiker Biker section of Kirk Creek campground, baby-wiped down and taken our selection of jerky and salad to a fragrant clifftop, surrounded by wild fennel, pampus grass, warring tribes of inquisitive squirrels and rabbits and a warm ocean wind, we found ourselves filled with a feeling that you don’t often get: ‘I don’t want anything that isn’t right here’.
The sun set modestly, leaving a spectrum from dark orange to rich blue but never really showing off. Only when it was utterly dark did we retreat to our tent, excited by the idea that we had to do the whole thing again tomorrow.
Today: 61 Miles
Total: 5899 Miles