Big Sur can only be reached via a long roller coaster ride up California’s beautiful highway 1. It was quite a drive cruising along the near-vertical coastal cliffs and navigating hairpin turns – it demanded my full attention. When I pulled into the park at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains, I was ready for a day full of a different kind of adventure.
After a morning of driving, I wanted to do some Big Sur trail hiking straight away and take in the coastal splendor. I asked a ranger for his recommendation and he recommended taking the Valley View Trail to Pfeiffer Falls, a must- do two-mile round-trip hike. After the intensity of the Pacific Coast Highway, a short, mellow trek sounded perfect. The air was as cool and crisp as I could have ever asked for. I threw on a light layer and grabbed my day pack, and started along the trail as it wove through a shaded forest along the babbling river. I can hear the faint crashing sounds of waves licking the rocky coast and smell the sea salt in the air. It wakes me up and relaxes me at the same time. As if to greet me, two deer stepped out in front of my path to munch on some leaves and grass. I smiled at them and kept hiking, gently climbing into the coastal foothills. I felt the soft-packed soil and pillowy leaf-litter underneath my feet as I passed by gorgeous redwoods towering tall over me. It was like being among an ancient presence, knowing those coastal redwoods have been growing there since the Mesozoic era. I wondered if a dinosaur had walked that same way. Thick, green vegetation and moss covered the forest around me and I could taste the moisture in the air. Big Sur country is moist and cool all year long. It takes a special climate only found in the northern California and Oregon shoreline for coastal redwoods to live. I feel privileged to have access to this splendor.
About a mile into the hike, the trail veered to the right and I started down the switchbacks to the base of the falls. I could start to hear the roar of the waterfall and I got excited. The air took on an almost sweet and spicy fragrance that reminded me of coconuts and black pepper. The vegetation is was so thick with herbal and floral fragrances, I bet I could forage the seasoning for my dinner later that night.
When I finally reached the falls, I am impressed and enchanted, but wanted more. I opted for a side trail called the Valley View Vista Point that would take me a half mile from the base of the falls. I was excited to get above the tree tops and see what kind of views this place had to offer. I walked quickly, almost running up the side of the valley to the top.
When I reached the top the first thing I noticed was just how much green there really was. It was expensive, as far as I could see. Green valleys and hill tops seemed to go on forever.
I turned around to face west and there it was – the magnificent Pacific Ocean. It roared and crashed against the rocky coast. The misty air filled my lungs and the saltiness was as refreshing as an ice cold beer. I looked down at the beautiful, gray beach, full of rocks and driftwood and thought how delicious an evening trek on the beach would be for dessert. I knew I would be hungry for more.
I found a little clearing to sit down, closed my eyes and listened to the wind and the ocean. I’m not sure how long I sat there, but she had a lot to say, and I didn’t want to miss one whisper. I know I’ll think of this place often when I’m sitting at home, enjoying the relaxation of my Big Sur candle. It will take me right back to this amazing landscape.
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