Girl Power

Days 17, 18 • March 18, 19, 2012 • Monterey to Big Sur •  32 miles

Another rainy start but it quickly turned into a beautiful day.   Highway 1 was winding and sometimes without a shoulder to speak of but most motorists were in the same mode we were in–  enjoying the incredible scenery and not in too much of a hurry.  It was an enjoyable ride that got even better when we met Jose and his family at the Bixby Creek bridge.  They thought Zoe was pretty cool and gave her a package of Flicks chocolate for encouragement.  Zoe wasn’t particularly discouraged at the time but I think the chocolate helped just the same.

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When we arrived at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in late afternoon we were greeted by Steve who was road hiking the 1 in the opposite direction.  He already had a campfire going and invited us to enjoy it with him.  The hiker/biker section we were in was beautiful, set by itself from the rest of the campground in a dense forest.  We knew it would be a good stay.

Around dusk another hiker wandered in and set up camp.  Tracy works with a sustainable living type of non-profit organization in Sitka, Alaska trying to get healthier, local produce in the public school lunch programs and had just finished a conference at the nearby Esalen Institute.  She was meeting her friend Hannah the next day for a big hiking trip.  As good as it is for cycling, this area looks even better for backcountry hiking with numerous hike-in camping areas and hot springs.  After dinner the four of us swapped stories around the campfire and Zoe gave us a mini guitar recital.

The next morning Steve was up early and ready to head toward Monterey.  The night before we had swapped reconnaissance info on campgrounds we would encounter, Steve giving us some great information on Kirk Creek, Plasket Creek, and a must-see waterfall heading south and we were happy we could point him to the Veteran’s Park campground in Monterey.  We had talked about gear a lot too–  Steve has a pretty compelling philosophy that involves purchasing relatively inexpensive equipment and finding ways to get high performance out of it.  For example he bought a cheap but oversized tent from Wal-Mart that allows him to stay dry in the center of the tent even if the walls aren’t completely waterproof.  This didn’t sound too much different than our night at Big Basin Redwoods park except we could have bought three or four of his tents for our one.  For a stove he uses a single-burner Coleman with those big green fuel canisters.  Cheap, reliable, and the fuel is available absolutely everywhere in the U.S.  Zoe and I cringed a little as we were on our last Jetboil canister and were becoming increasingly concerned about finding a replacement along our immediate path.  The penalty for all of this, of course, is weight.  Steve’s a big guy and has no problem with a pack in the 70 to 90 pound range.  He’d been on the road since September so it definitely works for him.  Take that you weight weenies.

After saying goodbye to Steve and Tracy, Zoe and I set out to do laundry at the laundromat located at the park.  This turned into a longer process than we thought—we still can’t account for an hour or two that morning–  and by the time we were on the trikes ready to ride I realized there was no way we could make the next logical campground before dark.  That was just fine with Zoe as it gave here some more time with Tracy and a chance to meet Hannah.  I found some seam sealer at the lodge store and re-sealed our leaky tent while Zoe and Tracy played Frisbee.  (At the store we met Sue and Bob from Boise–  you can’t see it in the picture but that’s a BSU hat on Bob’s head.)  When Hannah arrived we switched camps and split a regular site with she and Tracy.  Tracy and Hannah made some awesome burritos for dinner while I attempted, repeatedly, to start a fire.  After the fourth or fifth attempt Zoe was ready to file a formal complaint with the Boy Scouts of America for inadequate training.  I blame really wet fuel and a serious lack of kindling but Hannah and Tracy managed to nurse my latest meager attempt into a roaring fire without much trouble.  After that there was a lot of talk about girl power and I slunk into the tent, humiliated. 

Before we parted ways the next morning we played a round of Nerts, the game Hannah’s family plays.  Every serious card-playing family has a version of this game and it’s always named something different.  In the Ziegler family we call it Blitz.   I’m happy to say my failures the night before were more than erased when Hannah and I resoundingly thumped Tracy and Zoe.  Yeah, Zoe’s my daughter, but we’re talking about Blitz here.

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