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Getting up there and back

Yesterday I did make it to Big Sur. On my way downhill I saw a man resting on the side of the trail. He had an artificial leg from the knee down and an artificial arm from the elbow down. I had been thinking, earlier, that if I lost the ability to go on hikes it would be hard indeed, hard on my soul. And here was this guy who lost part of an arm and a leg and he was still hiking. Surely if he can do it I will be able to, one way or another. Quite a sappy story, huh? Yeah. But it lifted me a bit out of the self-pity mode.

My trek was full of anything but self-pity, though. As I headed up highway 1, I thought again about this highway. I doubt there is any other road in the world that is so amazing as this. It is a full-time job for CalTrans, I noted - there were new stretches of road, a new bridge (it looked pretty new), and there were huge metal nets covering some of the more dangerous rock mountains, presumably to catch chunks of rock when it gets rough. There is one portion where there is something like an angled shelf, a trough, made of the metal netting, jutting out from the hillside. That thing should catch some really big chunks.

There was fog all the way up, but wispy, like movie fog. It just made the ocean and cliffs more beautiful. A couple of times I got behind some slower cars and I realized that I love my manual transmission at times like this. I feel like I can control my car better around the curves, up and downhill, with a standard transmission.

Driving up and back on highway 1 was exhilarating. I had absolutely no fear either direction. I certainly had a lot of company. But never to the point of madness. The lines never grew too long or too slow. It took me almost three hours to get to the Pfeiffer Big Sur park - I did stop at Roy's house, to pick up a letter that was sent there for me. Learned that Ivah is taking care of nine wild cats and she won't get them fixed because the deal is that she has to keep them inside ten days after the op. Damn. Cats having kittens and keeping on having kittens because she is so afraid to let them inside for just ten days. But on the other hand, the groups doing the spaying - they don't have to be so restrictive. Trap-neuter-release is the way to go. I thought about going down there, taking one of the cats, fixing the others. Sounds like a fairly large project, though, taking several days. I can't take Ivah much longer than two hours, unfortunately.

Roy was friendly, seemed ready to stop and chat for a while. He seems in such a good mood lately. It's surprising and I wonder what's changed. I know he's really proud of Elaine, about to graduate, and of Mary, with her wonderful son, and maybe this is part of the reason.

I drove straight up without stopping, from Morro Bay, because I worried about getting there in good time to make the hike and not get stuck in the dark. Even during the day the redwood forest is dark. Beautiful. And dark.

The trail started out in this dark redwood forest, climbed up to the Pfeiffer Falls. I started from the highway, because I was unable to find a parking space inside the park (therefore I spent $3 needlessly, but thought, "it's for the state parks". I hope it is.). The trek to the falls was about 0.7 mile from the highway, straight across the parking lot and up the hill. I have seen pictures of this long, skinny waterfall, lovely thing. There were many people on this trail, all ages, nationalities, conditions. I think it is suitable for almost everyone who can walk. I even saw a young woman in barefeet. I wouldn't recommend that. I asked someone at the top to take my pic, to prove I'd been there. I hope she did an okay job. From the falls I took the Valley View trail uphill. Fairly steep, about 0.5 mile to the viewing point, although it seemed at times longer. I passed a lot of people who were heading downwards. But after I got to the top, took a few pictures, noticed HOW SOUND TRAVELS - there was a car on highway 1 below that was playing music so loud it could be heard clearly way up where I was - I did not meet anyone heading up until I was about 0.25 mile on the return trek. At that point, I headed down a different trail, .2 miles, to the nature center, and from there it was another .2 miles to my car, about. The trek to the viewing point is mostly oak woodland, very similar to the woodlands in this county. It would be hard to see a difference between that trail and many here, except that the trail is wider. And the views, of course, different. Oak woodland is light, airy, drier than the redwood forest. Even the undergrowth looked like the same materials I see here.

It was a beautiful hike and strenuous enough to get me breathing heavily, yet it did not send my knees into impossible pain. I suspected I would suffer today - and I am, but not badly - but it was worth it. I love the feeling of breathing hard. I used to be afraid of it, but I think what I really feared was that feeling of being out of breath, not able to get enough air. That didn't happen yesterday because I breathed as heavily and deeply as I needed to. I also never felt rushed, pressured by anyone behind me.

The length, about two miles altogether, was about right for me in my present state. I think I can keep building on that.

When I was through I thought about finding a place to stay and spending the night somewhere in the vicinity. I checked prices at the Big Sur Lodge (which is inside the park, near where I parked my car) and found a "standard" room was $99 up. Not bad for where it was but I didn't feel like spending that. I knew it would be too expensive at any motel, no matter how decrepit, and I didn't have the equipment for camping. I thought of Monterey and Salinas and Santa Cruz, but finally just decided to head back down on Highway 1 and take it as it came. A couple of times I thought of stopping and I did stop at Ragged Point, but all I did there was use the restroom. Nothing else talked to me, not even the espresso bar. So it was a cheap afternoon. I bought a small guide - "Hiking with Kids", and a map of the park, at the Big Sur Lodge, and that was all. I have visions of taking Joey hiking, with or without his mom, short hikes, all over the place.

When I got back to the SLO area I considered stopping to have a nice dinner somewhere but in the end it didn't appeal to me. I just wanted to get home. Where I had my cooked limas and home made bread and watched more of QAF. Shortly after nine I was so tired I went to bed.

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