"Normal" Places We Go / Wild Places We Go

Big Sur – Part 2: The Return to Big Sur (or Let’s Avoid Useless Scenes Of Grief)…

El Pais Grande del Sur

Not feeling satiated by our recent visit through Big Sur, Brandon and I headed back for some deeper penetration. This time we had a specific destination in mind -Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Which is not to say that we didn’t find plenty of places to stop on the way there…

big-sur

We stopped for lunch at the River Inn and (sold in the burrito bar at the grocery store) enjoyed what we both agreed were some of the best burritos we’d ever had…

river-inn-big-sur

You could eat lunch while sitting on the Big Sur throne (yours for only $1200)…

river-inn-big-sur

But we ate outside in the sunshine and the company of this friendly dog…

river-inn-big-sur

The River Inn seemed like a pretty nice place to stay if you aren’t into camping. There were a lot of people hanging out in the Big Sur River…

river-inn-big-sur

river-inn-big-sur

And this wasn’t the only cat we saw…

river-inn-big-sur

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is just down the road from the River Inn.

Entering Pfeiffer Big Sur…

Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

One of the first signs to greet us in the Park urged people to take precautions to prevent the spreading of Sudden Oak Death which affects not just a variety of oaks, but also bay, madrone, rhododendron, big leaf maple, huckleberry, manzanita, buckeye, toyon, redwood and Douglas-fir (more on Sudden Oak Death later).

We decided to hike up to Valley View first. And these are some pictures taken on the way up…

valley-view-Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

valley-view-Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

valley-view-Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

150-million years ago there were forests of coast redwoods in China, across the western half of North America and into Greenland and Europe. Now, their range has been reduced to a 30-mile-wide coastal strip, from just across the Oregon border, south 500 miles to California’s Big Sur coast…

valley-view-Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

The variety of ecosystems one crosses simply on the short hike to Valley View is remarkable…

valley-view-Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

valley-view-Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

An oak felled by Sudden Oak Death – characterized by dark brown sap bleeding from the bark surface…

sudden-oak-death

The top of the mountain – Big Sur Valley View… This valley was created by the Big Sur River. Heavy rainfall causes the river to transport tremendous volumes of soil, downed trees, branches and other debris downstream. The relatively gentle terrain in the park causes the river to slow and deposit sediment and debris. Over hundreds of thousands of years, this process has created a gentle, relatively flat valley floor in the bottom of the canyon.

big-sur-valley-view

Although we hate to backtrack, some backtracking is necessary to reach Pfeiffer Falls from Valley View…

Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

A clover field we passed through on the way to Pfeiffer Falls…

Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

Worth the hike – Pfeiffer Falls…

Pfeiffer-Falls

Pfeiffer-Falls

Downstream from Pfeiffer Falls…

Pfeiffer-Falls

Back in the main section of the park (you have to wonder about stuff like this)…

Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park

We headed for the Big Sur River Gorge, but not before stopping to check out Homestead Cabin…

Esselen Indians once occupied the coastal plains and woodlands from Lopez Point to Point Sur. They lived as hunters and gatherers, using the plants and animals of both land and sea. When the Spanish arrived in the late 18th century, soldiers and missionaries forced the Esselens to abandon their villages and move into the missions with other Indians. Decimated by smallpox, cholera and other European diseases, the Esselens no longer existed as a separate people and so with the exception of a few mission escapees, the human population of Big Sur was taken effectively to zero.

Michael and Barbara Pfeiffer were the first European immigrants to settle permanently in Big Sur, arriving in 1869. Like most other settlers in the area, they supported themselves through a combination of subsistence farming, beekeeping, ranching and logging. Their son, John Pfeiffer, homesteaded a 160 acre parcel on the north bank of the Big Sur River and in 1884 moved to the site of the Homestead Cabin…

Pfeiffer-Big-Sur-State-Park-homestead-cabin

The Big Sur River – home to steelhead, rainbow trout, sculpin, stickle-backs and crawdads…

big-sur-river

This sign compelled us to head up the Big Sur River Gorge and we were not disappointed with what we encountered…

big-sur-river-gorge

Entering the Gorge…

big-sur-river-gorge

This tree looked like it had been through a lot…

big-sur-river-gorge

Continuing upstream, the canyon grew increasingly narrow and rocky…

big-sur-river-gorge

big-sur-river-gorge

Requiring us to become increasingly creative to maintain our forward momentum… I had my camera at the ready in case Brandon fell in.

big-sur-river-gorge

Some of the logs thrown downstream by the Big Sur River were fairly significant…

big-sur-river-gorge

I thought this cluster of trees along the canyon wall were impressive…

big-sur-river-gorge

We pressed upstream as far as we could…

big-sur-river-gorge

Until, lacking technical gear, we were forced to stop at this point… We’re planning on coming back in the summer and continuing to the source.

big-sur-river-gorge

On the drive back, we stopped at Bixby Creek Bridge…

bixby-creek-bridge

Sea Cave…

sea-cave-big-sur

Big Sur Coastline…

big-sur-coastline

big-sur-coastline

Intrigued by this sign…

impassable-in-wet-weather

We ventured up this road (which I just don’t believe would have been “impassable in wet weather”)…

big-sur-road

The views from the road were great…

big-sur

The final shot (of Bixby Bridge) before heading to Original Joe’s in San Jose and wrapping up the day…

bixby-bridge

One thought on “Big Sur – Part 2: The Return to Big Sur (or Let’s Avoid Useless Scenes Of Grief)…

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