Heading to the city from The Sequoia National Forest was definitely gonna be a bit of culture shock, so we decided to break it up with a visit to Pinnacles National Park. This is a place I have always wanted to visit, I have just waited for the right opportunity.
The park has two entrances. You can enter from the east or the west, but you can not pass through. There is climbing on both sides of the park. The eastern side is the sportier side, with bolted routes. The west side is for the more adventurous, with longer, more bold traditional routes. I had always read that the climbing there was not for the faint at heart, some even called it scary.
We climbed on the east side of the park(the sportier side of the two), and I found that it IS scary. It makes you hold your breathe. I wondered the whole time if the hold was gonna pop off and I was gonna go sailing, or crown Jodi on the noggin. The popular routes seemed smooth and polished. The holds were so diverse, they were like gym holds. Strange shapes, and crazy positions.
We beat the heat by a couple of days. Expecting over 100* temps, we made our visit short, but shweet. We were also looking for Tarantulas and condors. Pinnacles is home to 33 resident California condors. They have a hefty tarantula population as well(Jodi is coming to grips with her phobia). We unfortunately showed up at the wrong time of the year for our favorite hairy 8 legged creature. Stopping at the ranger station/gift shop we found out the condor count was down, they believed, because of a beached whale in Big Sur. Soooo……. to Big Sur WE GO!
How DO you find a beached whale? Well let me tell ya!…
With a decent tip to “go south”… A set of Binoculars(thanx John!)… and our urban assault vehicle, we set out to find it. First we looked for birds. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but not working. Next, have Jodi hang out of the van window with the binoculars while I ride the white line and she searches the shoreline below. We did that from Big Sur south almost to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. SUCCESS! We spotted it on a beach just south of Torre Canyon.
Ok. ok. I can understand how most people would jump at the chance to hang out with a stinking, rotted, bloating corpse(*please note sarcasm). Well we, on the other hand, went above and beyond. After examining the area with Binoculars, then walking the road to check for a decent path(the decent being maybe 500 feet down) we decided to try hiking down a tributary into Torre canyon. 2 hours later, after bushwhacking, a heinous decent, and a little trespassing, we made it!
Now we have toget in and get out before the tide traps us. Boulder hopping over the rocky shore, racing to see something we have never seen before, was exciting. Think about it! How often does that happen in your life? How many times do you see something you have NEVER seen before? Being in the presence of such a creature was amazing. Yet, Its lifelessness brought us a sense of sadness.
The smell was putrid, yet you didn’t smell it until you were so close that there was NO getting away. You couldn’t fight the gag reflex, you couldn’t run fast enough in any direction. We were lucky enough to keep our lunch down(just barely).
After our examination of the whale, no luck with condors(possible unconfirmed sighting),we are ready to make our way back up. We have no choice at this venture but to trespass. Not only must we trespass, BUT, we must walk right by the living room windows. We also must figure out how to get out. We are fenced in with a 6 foot gate that is locked.. Lucky for us NOBODY was home, and the fence had a hole in it. …. By the skin of our teeth.
Happy with the success of our adventure, now it is time to beach hop. Arriving at Panther Beach(6 miles north of Santa Cruz) late evening we found a safe pull off in a farmer’s field. So we laid down to embrace the sounds of the tumbling waves till they put us to sleep. Waking first thing(5:45am) we drive over to the parking lot and have breakfast. The sign states you have to wait till 8:00 am. So, we wait as long as we can, then to the beach we go.
Morning is the best time of the day for the beach. Our “Golden Hour” before the hoards of people, when the beach creatures come out of hiding. While the sand is still new, and you can see the purple silt marbling it.
“I will pick up your CapriSun straws, and your Subway napkins. Just let me have my mornings of peaceful shores.”
Imagine going to a beach and it being trash free. Well on this day, June 12th, Panther Beach was CLEAN! Trash free! For a day people got to come to a beach that was not only beautiful, but beautifully clean.
The rock at Panther Beach reminds me of the West Virginia rock. The orange sandstone, the iron deposits, the gray almost mid evil look of it. Some of the features would make the rock look alive. The rock would morph as we walked down the cliffs from gray and solid, to a carnival of swirls and colors. Some looked like lacy layers and others smooth like bone.
It was hard to say good-bye to this beach. Noticing the sun dropping to the horizon, we pry ourselves away. Knowing there is more to see, we head north.
Our next beach was Big Basin Redwoods state park, Waddell Beach. There was a kiteboard/sailboard competition going on. People were swarming the beach like “ants at a picnic”. We cruised the beach, checking out the eye candy.
There were people flying all over the surf. We had no idea who was winning, or losing. We did not who was who, or what was what, but it was fun! What a fabulous surprise for the end of our day.
This busy day has created a powerful hunger, we will keep the theme, Sushi Nite!!!
We found out sandworms/sea worms are great for fishin’..