Blanco, Big Sur, April 2003
to get out for my first backpacking trip of the year, I met Henrik and
Anne in Big Sur for a trip inland to Pico Blanco.
The trailhead is on the Coast Road, a 10-mile dirt track that
starts at the north end of the famous Bixby Bridge and wraps around the
canyons and hills, joining Highway 1 further south.
The trailhead is about 3 or 4 miles from the south end of the
coast road so this is where we started our trek.
trail begins following a small river upstream through a redwood forest.
Even on the warmest day it is always cool in areas like this due
to shading provided by the trees. The
path was well maintained and level.
After a creek crossing that required me to take off my shoes (Henrik
walked through in his boots) we began to climb out of the redwood forest
and into the dry, exposed mountains of Big Sur.
in terrain were matched by the trail as it became narrow, un-kept and
wholly unsatisfactory. We
walked along through the chaparral under the intense sun with prickly
brush scratching our legs and arms and catching onto our packs.
This went on, and on, and on.
Motivated by the promise of a waterfall falling into a large
pool, I went ahead of my friends and was glad when I arrived at the
flat grassy meadow, still basking in the sun, was the Pico Blanco
campsite, quite a welcome change after the dry brush of the past several
hours. Dumping my pack, I
found the trail down to the river and was astonished by the waterfall
and pool it fell into. Both
exceeded my expectations in terms of size and beauty.
Not only the water, but also the surrounding area was pristine
and soon I was perched naked on a rock, below the falls preparing to
dive into the pool.
shaded waterfall and pool at Pico Blanco, for perspective, the falls are
about 20 feet high. I dove
off of the rock at the lower right corner of the picture into the
breathtakingly cold water and swam towards the falls where the pool was
at least 10 feet deep. To
the right of the picture (not visible) you can cross the creek easily
and collect water coming directly out of the hills.
I hit the water I felt as if I went into a small seizure, as the water
was freezing cold. With the
river always shaded by the trees the water doesnít have much
opportunity to warm up, especially this early in the year.
Nonetheless, it was incredibly refreshing and I climbed out and
set up my tent in good spirits. Henrik and Anne came along a bit later and I went in the pool
again, this time Henrik made me swim to the waterfall for a photograph
but it didnít come out because it was so dark.
came and found us hiking on unknown trails, determined to find a way
back that avoided the poor trail and brush of yesterday.
We were fairly certain that if we headed straight towards the
peak of Pico Blanco we would hit a fire road and eventually we did.
Now we could walk three wide on a road with fantastic views of
the hills towards the ocean; as an added benefit it was all down hill.
Soon we came to the junction where we rejoined the trail and
headed back down to the river that we would follow downstream back to
the vehicle we changed into fresh clothes and stashed our hiking clothes
for fear of poison oak and drove the remainder of the Coast Road to
where it concludes at the north end of Bixby Bridge.
After leaving Big Sur it was an uneventful drive north back to
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