Day 19 • March 20, 2012 • Big Sur to Kirk Creek • 30 miles
Early in the journey we forgot to properly stow Zoe’s drink tube and it got wrapped around the axle of her Trets, breaking the tube. For most of the trip so far we’ve been relying on my water bladder and our bottle cages– we looked around in San Francisco but the tubing material available in most hardware stores kinks easily and isn’t very good for drink tubes. Water capacity hasn’t been a problem so far on the California coast but as we go further south and into the desert we’ll need it all. It turns out Tracy had a “spare” tube because she packed the tube for her Platypus bladder but not the bladder itself. She offered it up and we removed the Platypus fittings and swapped the tube over to our Hydromedary bag. Zoe’s had her own water ever since, thanks Tracy!
Zoe started out a little sad, missing the girls– Tracy, Hannah, and of course Mom and her friends at home. But her mood picked up when we were able to send a package to Mom with help from a very friendly postal worker in Big Sur. It didn’t hurt that the weather had improved while we were at Big Sur and today was a beautiful day with a light tail wind. We’d heard the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park was a must-see so we stopped for a look at the McWay Waterfall House. Julia Pfeiffer Burns was a prominent pioneer in the area who in later life became friends with the wealthy Helen Hooper Brown. Helen and her husband Lathrop had a house at this site. In 1962 Helen donated the house to the state of California in memory of Julia Pfeiffer Burns. The state couldn’t find a public use for the house and eventually demolished it. All that remains is the garden terrace overlooking the waterfall. There’s a nice walkway and plenty of benches, making this a very serene and restful stop. In the picture note the waterfall flowing onto the beach.
Once we followed Gretchen’s amended advice and looked right instead of left, we began seeing fewer rocks and bugs and more marine life. Just past Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park this strategy paid off big when we began spotting whales. We saw many of them all along the coast for most of the afternoon with various displays including water spouts, the tops of the whales, and occasionally a fin. We never saw a breach. I’m no marine biologist but I think these were gray whales. March is about the time they begin traveling north to their summer feeding grounds. The whales were close enough to view them pretty well without binoculars but not close enough for pictures from a point and shoot camera.
Our destination for the day was Plaskett Creek Campground but we spent so much time whale watching and other sight-seeing that we ran out of daylight so we ducked into Kirk Creek campground instead. The variety of campgrounds in the area, most with inexpensive hiker/biker sites, provides for easy, stress-free logistics. Steve warned us about this but a little stress was added back in by the signs at the campground warning that the water was non-potable. Water is one of the primary things a cyclist needs from a campground– finding out the water isn’t drinkable after you arrive is a real problem. Steve’s approach was to drink it anyway which turned out to be the right intuition. Talking with the campground host I learned that the water is properly sanitized– multiple filters, chlorination– but because it is a manual process Monterey County won’t sign off on it. Sounds like one of those ridiculous inter-governmental communication or jurisdiction problems that leads to absurd outcomes. Posting that the only water source in miles is non-potable without any explanation isn’t a solution.