Thursday, November 28, 2002
Linda and I left for our backpack trip to Sykes hot springs in Big Sur on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. The drive to Pfeifer Big Sur state park was very pleasant. When we got to Pfeifer we found out that we needed to pop down the road about 1/4 mile to obtain a campfire permit at Big Sur station before it closed. We got there in plenty of time and got our permit and checked out the parking lot where we would leave our car the next day and head to Sykes. Then we headed to our campsite at Pfeifer. We got a site that was near the restrooms. This was cushy camping. There were hot showers in the restroom. We got our tents set up and cooked some dinner and by the time we finished dinner it was dark and it was only 6 p.m. It was also a bit on the cold side so we turned in early to warm up and get lots of sleep. I ended up getting up 3 different times for a trip to the restroom because I had kept myself a bit too well hydrated on Sunday! On one trip to the loo, I saw a coyote trot by.
We got up at 6 a.m. and it was still dark. Ug. We had breakfast, packed up, and headed to the trail head. We got started on the trail at 8 a.m. The sky was blue and the sun was out. We had great weather the whole trip. The 10 mile trek started by winding through Pfeifer park. We got to spy on campers from up on a hill as we hiked along. Soon the trail started to climb. We switchbacked up and up until we reached Pine Ridge I assume since we were on the Pine Ridge trail. We climbed up 1220 feet in 3.9 miles. Phew! We passed Ventana Camp on our way up. After 3.9 miles we finally started some downhill. We passed a family of Mom, Dad, Daughter and Son and were envious of Mom giving Daughter a massage while she lay on a log! We did some more up and down hiking and stopped for lunch at a second creek crossing. While we were eating the family passed us. After lunch we passed Barlowe Flat campground and started another longish climb. We reached our highest elevation of 1640 feet at the top of this climb. Then we had a long downhill portion to Sykes camp and the Big Sur river. As we reached the river we saw the family wading across the river. We soon followed suit. Luckily we had brought wet shoes or sandles to wear for wading across the river. We had to wade across the river to get to the campsite. The water was very cold. Burrrrr! We put our boots back on and made our way to camp just yards away. We found a nice site that was last in a line of sites so had some privacy.
After setting up camp, we set off to find the hot springs. We hiked about 1/4 mile and discovered that we had to ford the river again. Ug. This time we had forgotten our wet shoes. We grumbled and whined our way across the river in bare feet. It was so cold and with bare feet we had to take it slower. After the crossing we hiked along and the trail got steeper and more narrow as we went along. We had to climb up steep muddy/dirty use trails and climb down a steep rock face right near the springs. It was a dicey little climb down but we made it. The hot springs were around the corner but alas our family beat us there and so did several other campers so we had to sit down and wait for a turn to soak in the hot springs. We waited about 20 minutes and then 3 folks left so we got to squeeze into the hot springs. It was very nice. There was a little water fall that filled the pool with hot water from the springs. Soaking felt very nice on the sore muscles. It was about 100 degree F which wasn't very hot but still enjoyable. We soaked for about 30 minutes till 4:35 p.m. when we reluctantly got out so we would have daylight left for the hike back to camp. Linda decided she didn't want to experience the dicey climb again so she waded across the river and made her way along the other side for a bit while I popped up the dicey climb and made my way along the use trail. We finally met up when Linda found a place to get back to the use trail. Then we had to wade the river again. More Burrrr! By the time we got back to camp it was very much dusk. By the time we cooked up our dinners it was dark. The dark and cold drove us to bed early yet again. I think we were in our tents by 6:30 p.m. It was a cold night but my winter bag worked well. I just didn't want to poke my nose out of it all night!
We were up at 7 a.m. and took an hour to eat breakfast and pack up for the trip back to the car. We had one last cold river crossing only this time we had our wet shoes with us. Linda got a great picture of me contemplating the wade across the river! That water made my feet ache so much. The trip back was beautiful and now we knew what to expect more. We stopped at Logwood Creek I believe for a snack break. Then we pretty much hiked the rest of the way back with some water stops and boot readjusting stops. By the time we reached the car we were both very sore and tired but felt good about having been able to hike 21 miles in two days: 20 of those miles with our backpacks on! At the car we sat on Linda's tail gate to get our packs off and then changed into clean cloths and started to head home. We stopped at a Bakers Square in Carmel for a late lunch. I had a delicious cheddar bacon grilled chicken sandwich and we shared a hot fudge sundae. We got back to the bay area around 5ish. The traffic wasn't too bad. It was a great trip but left both of us with sore tired muscles to nurse the next few days!