I'm just back from a trip up the coast to Monterey, and I took advantage of the opportunity to do a bit of hiking in Big Sur. About Big Sur, I must say: I now get what all the hype is about. Yes, it's amazing. Go there.
I looked up a number of different hiking options between Monterey and Big Sur. The Salmon Creek Trail sounded like the best option, but it was just out of the range of the redwoods, and I wanted to see redwoods. Instead, I went to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. First, I took a quick peek at McWay Falls:
And then I did the Ewoldsen Trail. It's about a 5.5 mi round trip out and back that goes up to a vantage point where you might see a California Condor if you are very lucky (I wasn't). The trail is steep. It's nearly all straight UP. You begin along a stream, walking amongst redwoods. Eventually you top out above the redwoods and reach some black sage, a view of the ocean, and some oaks covered in lichen. I don't know what comes after that because I decided to skip the last half mile or so since I hoped to get back to San Diego sometime before sunrise the next day. (I got back at 3am, so cutting the hike short was a good call.)
The entire experience was a lesson in the value of conservation. California Condors, elephant seals, and sea otters (photos below) have been brought back from the brink of extinction. Coast Redwoods, Sequoia sempervirens, the tallest living trees on earth, can live well over 1,000 years, and yet most of the old growth has been cut down for lumber. In another millennium, the protected trees in the park I visited will once again resemble what we've cut down and turned into things like railroad ties.
Redwoods, it turns out, are very hard to photograph because they are TOO TALL.
Along the way, there were tons of flowers. Here's a California Columbine:
Southern Hedgenettle, a mint family plant that smells of lemon:
A Douglas Iris:
Tree covered in lichen:
A fern with a tripinnate leaf:
And, here's your big payoff, the view from the top:
And, some bonus pics of cute critters: