Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/advice

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Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by BostonMike » Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:03 am

Thanks for that great trip report! I plan on doing a similar hike with my son in August.

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by edormody » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:04 pm

Wow, that's quite a hike in even ideal conditions! Glad you made it out safe!

Fedak is not exaggerating, in the winter on the ridges the wind can gust over 100 mph. Flying limbs and falling trees are extremely dangerous. Some locations in the forest received over 6" of rain since Monday 1/4/16 so creeks and rivers will be rising fast with the remaining storms this winter.

Here is a link for local radar and forecasts: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid= ... 11&loop=no

And this link for Monterey County Rain Gages: http://www.cnrfc.noaa.gov/county_precip ... ey&hour=24

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by jack_glendening » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:18 pm

Thanks for the detailed report. Often we never hear the outcome from advice posted here ...


PS: you can check out the locations of water at Pine Ridge Camp and of the Sykes Hot Springs at bigsurtrailmap.net

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by christiantmendelsohn » Wed Jan 06, 2016 1:02 pm

Just got back from my 3-night hike, which was so good!

China Camp via Pine Ridge up to Carmel River trail = fine. Saw no one. Cleared one tree. Snow!
Carmel River Trail to Pine Valley Camp = fine. Saw no one. No snow.
Pine Valley Camp = Beautiful. Spent the night. Little cold. No snow.
No animal sightings.

Pine Valley Camp to Bear Basin Trail = river crossing easy. Saw a couple nice guys. No snow.
Bear Basin Trail to Bear Basin Connector Trail = Hard for me because it was a steep climb in elevation. I got a little confused & scared because there is a large tree that masks the entrance of the Bear Basin Connector Trail. Finally found it and continued. Saw no one.
Bear Basin Connector Trail to Pine Ridge = fine. Saw no one.
Pine Ridge to Redwood Camp = fine. This segment of the Pine Ridge needs some clearing. The overgrowth is there, but not hard to keep sight of the trail at any time. Stopped at Pine Ridge camp, because someone scraped the word "water" in the trail head sign. I went & couldn't find any. Saw no one.
Redwood camp = spent the night. Rain. Saw one couple. Great place. Much warmer than Pine Valley Camp.

Redwood Canyon to Sykes: fine. Cleared a couple trees. Saw one tent at Sykes. Looked for the baths but couldn't find them so I left. Didn't see any trash on ground.
Sykes to Terrace Creek: fine. cleared another tree. Saw 5 sets of people.
Terrace Creek = picked the camp sight up the Terrace Creek Trail ~300 feet (sorta hidden). fine. Rain.

Tuesday (pouring rain almost all day):
Terrace Creek to Big Sur Station: a couple areas one needs to be careful (cliffs) but fine. Saw no one from 7:30 am - 10 am.

I'll post the things I learned on another post for newbie's/rusties like me.

Cheers to all for your help.

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by Gonehiking » Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:41 pm

Just got back from Pine Valley yesterday, trails were icy/frozen snow and or very muddy and slippery, use trekking poles. Temps were down to 29 by sunset and hit a low of 21 overnight (brought small digital thermo.) Mountain lion prints spotted in snow and mud, and a bobcat slowly left the trail in front of us, one tick on pants even with the cold weather.... note that most water crossings are ice cold even in summer, be careful out there..

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by christiantmendelsohn » Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:20 pm

HNY to all, and a big thank you to all of you for your questions, advice and opinions.

I decided to postpone my trip till tomorrow,1-2-15 and, not go for 8 days as my original post stated due to three days of rain in the forecast, which i don't want to do. Ill be going from China Camp to Big Sur station in 4 nights now, before the rain comes- a nice intro, and a nice break to think, yet not be in 30 MPH (as predicted) winds with lots of rain.

I wanted to originally take a clockwise route so I could end up at Big Sur Station and use the phone to call for a ride when I decided to end my trip.
All the advice about it being damp and things not drying, thank you Hilary- that was very helpful.
I've got GPS loaded on my phone JIC- used Motion GPX ($1.99), can download offline maps, and upload .GPX files (mapping the route on http://bigsurtrailmap.net/, and downloading the .GPX user-created map).

Ya'll are wonderful. Thanks.

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by Hillary » Thu Dec 31, 2015 9:09 am

I agree with Jack on reversing direction. It just seems like it will be more enjoyable. And I agree with Mike - avoid Sykes! It just ain't worth it. Ew.

I did a 7 day east to west from Arroyo Seco to HWY1 @ Vicente about a year ago. It was amazing and all the warnings about ticks, poison oak, and mucky mud are well advised. We got one day of rain and "winter storm" in Ventana is not like the rain we get it town - it is just super exaggerated. Its colder, windier, wetter. Just make sure you have rain gear. Aside from the rain, one thing that I wasn't prepared for was the constant cold dampness. All the north-east facing hills are in constant shade with no sun to warm it up. I never got in a creek or dunked my boot, but the air is just cold and wet right now and if something needs to dry out it simply won't unless you hang it over a fire. Last I checked we are still in fire restrictions so that won't work. Make sure you have a backup base layer and dry socks because simply hanging them on my pack to dry didn't work, they just stayed damp. Also, in some areas, if it rained a week ago it will still be a slippery mess and the clay soil will stick to your boots and you'll just keep getting taller and taller. Fortunately, my husband had this bizarre flat thing in our kitchen set that we could use to scrape the bottom of our boots. None of this stopped our progress, but it was a hassle.

Lastly, I'd recommend a GPS. Some of the overgrown areas are hard to navigate because the trail will simply vanish. With Jack's GPS map loaded you can at least follow the lines and get close enough to continue moving forward. Those maps on my Garmin have saved me more than once. Before the Garmin I spent way too much time wandering around looking for tread or any hint of a trail or pushing through a section in the most inefficient way possible. That is pretty painful. VWA does a great job keeping trails clear, but they do disappear quick as you get further away from trailheads.

It sounds like a great adventure. The hills should be pretty and green with the rain we've been getting. They were just getting green tint when I was out a few days ago.

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by jack_glendening » Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:14 pm

Any particular reason you are doing that route counter-clockwise? I think doing it clockwise would be preferable because (1) you would start out on trails in better condition and get used to Ventana hiking (and brush) before tackling the tougher sections (2) if there were a problem with the Big Sur River crossing, you could simply return


Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by fedak » Wed Dec 30, 2015 4:11 pm

Everything Mike said +

- This is a pretty brutal introduction to some very unforgiving terrain. You might want to consider some VW overnights before committing to something this long. Or possibly look into nearby Henry W Coe where you will find similar hills w/o the overgrowth.

- You didn't say when you are going, but if during this El Nino winter you should take a hard look at the extended forecast and not head out into a storm system. Winter along those ridges is "Winter"- with ice/snow and 100mph wind gusts, etc and you need to bring gear appropriate for that

- During heavy tick season you basically need to check constantly with a very thorough check before you hole up for the night and when you get up in the morning.

- Hiding Camp is far enough upcanyon that I've never seen the crossing to be problematic- though I don't think I've ever been there during/after an active storm. It likely will beyond a rock hop. (http://i.imgur.com/d0Q1Qi5.jpg)
The Big Sur crossing could be more problematic and you would need to possibly plan for getting to that point and not being able to cross the river.

This is the Little Sur not the Big Sur- but here's what some of these crossings can look like after rain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6zLcmkH4Lw

Re: Hiking for 8 days in Big Sur:seeking areas of concern/ad

by mikesplain » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:37 pm

1) Prepare for bushwhacking & lots of downed trees to crawl over, under & around; keep your pack as small & contained as possible, wear sturdy clothing & shoes & consider wearing work gloves & eye protection.
2) That's hard to say, this could be a rock hop or a life-threatening waist-deep ford; it depends on stream flow. I suspect 4 years of drought means that the latest rains didn't raise river levels much though & you'll probably be fine.
3) Good thinking!
4) See #2 above.

I've never used nor even heard of anything that keeps ticks away besides manually picking them off. They climb on board at ~3' high or lower, so constant vigilance will keep them from reaching skin.

As far as camps, you'll probably want to spend some time in Pine Valley as it's the most open, inviting & sunny locale you'll encounter on this route. Pine Ridge Camp is really nice too, so that's a tough call. Personally, I'd avoid Sykes Camp like a plague. It's always crowded, way too impacted to feel like wilderness & cold & dark besides. Barlow Flat is a MUCH better camp anyway. You won't be able to "find your own place in the woods" along the Big Sur River as anyplace flat enough to camp is already a campsite. In any case, visit our Sykes / Big Sur corridor page for more details- http://www.ventanawild.org/planning-tri ... rings.html