March 13, 2012

Camping and Hiking to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur.

Alright, pictures tell better stories than words, so I'll let them do the talking. But the long and the short of it was that some of my friends and I went backpacking/hiking/camping a few weekends ago. Ben couldn't come because he had some work to do so that his business could close on the following Monday with their investors (!!). So, that was exciting for us, but we were all bummed he couldn't join us to Big Sur. Anyway, we left early in the morning, and drove down to Big Sur, and were hoping that the rainy weekend forecast would keep the other campers away for the weekend. I have been camping many times, and hiking many times, but I had only done both in one trip (ie, hiking in with my gear) once before, when I was 16 in Scotland! So I was a little teensy bit nervous too. As Ben said, "you've never been so old and decrepit doing this before," (ha ha).

Laura, Dodon, Lisa, Anne-Claire, John, Me.

The rain made for valleys full of rainbows! So lovely!

Dodon, Me, Lisa, Laura.

Another rainbow.

Lupins collect the ambient moisture.

Redwood bark up close.

It dries up a bit, and we shed our rain jackets.

If you use your imagination, you can see the ocean over those far hills to the left.

Smiley face in the moss.

Close-up of the moss. I'm sure it's almost never as wet as it was for us in those hills. With the moss, and the trillium and other wildflowers, I was even reminded of Kentucky in April!

Anne-Claire and a rainbow.

Five or six miles in, we drop our bags and set up camp, and eat lunch.

Trusty little tent that I lived in in Africa!

After lunch, we walked 4 or 5 more miles in to Sykes hot springs, sans big packs.

I am reminded how awe-inspiring California has been throughout the ages.

And how the heck did people find this hot spring?? Because it is seriously out in the middle of nowhere.

I squealed with delight when I saw this little guy! I thought it was an endangered species...

...but it turned out just to be a California newt, which is fairly common. Still, I was pleased I saw it at all! Neat little guy.

Clearing up.

We made it to the hot springs!

There were 3 tubs. Two were full of rowdy beer-drinkers, so we snuggled up in this one (and thereby squeezed out a lone hiker who had the whole tub to himself before us. Doh). It was neat. Not super hot, or comfortable. Definitely not worth the hike all by itself. The landscape was more worthy of the excursion without the hype of the hot springs. Still, kind of neat to have done.

When we finished up in the hot tub, it was already almost dark. We hiked back to our tents 5 miles in the dark. I didn't really use my headlamp b/c it was super dim, and I wanted to make sure it would last in camp. I definitely stepped in ice-cold water crossing one of the streams on the way back. We also gathered fire wood on our way back so that we'd have some fodder for our evening campfire just before midnight.

John making some delicious food. Or is this a picture of the "falafel soup"?

Getting warm. Glad I brought that scarf.

Drying out my foot after squelching in my cold, wet boot for a couple hours.

John over the cauldron.

Next morning, we all slept in and had a yummy breakfast before packing up and walking out.

Anne-Claire also had wet boots. She hiked out in flip-flops. Hobo.

Dodon (from Indonesia, not used to cold) wears several layers to keep warm.

Laura, super happy!

The gang: Dodon, Laura, John, Lisa, Anne-Claire


Banana slug.

Up close.

Almost done with the 20 miles.

Dual jet streams.




Almost there!

And, done! Phew! Super fun.


Anonymous said...

Hi there. Lovely post. :)

Could you mention if you would consider the hike easy, moderate or difficult? mainly with regards to the elevation.

Also, do you think its possible to do the hike to and back within one day? without camping midway?

Alyssum Pohl said...

Hello, I'd say it's a long, but moderate hike. The elevation change is mostly at the beginning, with some dips and rises here and there along the way. We left at ~8am from the parking lot if I remember correctly, and we took an hour break to set up camp before heading the rest of the way to the springs. We walked back from the springs to the campsite in the dark after a fairly short time at the springs. Thus, I wouldn't suggest trying to get all the way there and back in a day if you want to do it all in daylight. I'm sure it could be done...but you'd have to go at a pretty fast clip, leave super super early, and not spend much time at the springs. The trail is not one I'd like to repeat in the dark. Sketch-tastic.

Ruby Mair said...

Now, that's what you call ultimate adventure!:) Those pictures say it all. Camping in the wild is an awesome experience.