Robert Lewis Stevenson said that the coastline between Pebble Beach and Big Sur, California is... "the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world." Some of America's most treasured photographers such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams made their homes here because of the spectacular natural beauty.
My first encounter with Big Sur was during the holidays in 1985. We left San Francisco on New Years Eve with no particular plan on where we were going to stay. We'd figure it out... We ended up at the Big Sur River Inn and hung out with the locals by the fire, drinking beer and laughing our faces off. They were super friendly and, of course, many of them were growing Cannabis and living by the crashing surf in mobile homes like Jim from the "Rockford Files." It was cool. Big Sur is a magical place.
Fast forward about twenty years and we're back staying at the Ventana Inn & Spa. Steve McQueen was one of my favorite actors. He founded the resort with his manager Hillard Elkins back in the day. He used to come up to the resort and stay with Academy Award winning actress Ali MacGraw to make up after one of their famous spats. This resort property is surrounded by some great wilderness and hiking trails. We set out on a hike one morning with Big Sur Hiking and Guides:
Big Sur Guides and Hiking
Steve Copeland is the owner of Big Sur Guides and Hiking. The moment you meet Steve there's something about him that draws you in and makes you feel like he's an old friend. Maybe its how he breaks the ice with his funny jokes or the authentic way he connects to the Big Sur wilderness since growing up there as a child. He's a modern day Renaissance Man.
If you close your eyes and think about Big Sur, you'll smell the California sage and hear the crashing Pacific Ocean. Relax. Rejuvinate.Refresh. Anybody can partake in these hikes--including kids and seniors. It's an amazing way to ease into some great early morning exercise and experience a wide variety of nature. You'll also learn about the mystical energy the native Americans were able to tap into and that still lives on today. More about that later...
There are a couple of easy routes and we'd recommend the "Henry Miller Walk." The cost is $90 per person that includes a bag lunch ($75 without). If you like heading out on your own, an easy path that's suitable and just a ten minute drive from Carmel-by-the-Sea is Garrapata State Park in Carmel. Use the Westside Trail, which very few people know about and and is less traveled. The walk takes about an hour and you can self guide by parking your vehicle on the South side of California Highway 1.
Big Sur Guides and Hiking
Garrapata State Park, Carmel • Westside Trail
The trail is well worn, but is not necessarily marked. Be sure to wear hiking shoes or boots and dress in layers. The wind can blow up to 20+ MPH. Be careful not to take any unnecessary risks by getting too close to the cliffs and crashing surf. It's dangerous.
Me and Steve Copeland
Summit Whale Watching
This is a great bench to sit on to watch the California Grey Whales migrating down to the protected waters of Baja, Mexico. They are on their way to give birth. Traveling south the whales move faster than when they're heading north. That's because the cows have given birth. The calves can't swim as fast or hold their breath longer for than five minutes.
Summit Ocean Views
The Magical Big Sur Feather
The Native American Indians believe that birds of prey have mystical powers to heal and provide strength. Braves would venture out into the wilderness and through their journeys, they'd find feathers that they would bring back to their chief. The full regalia headdresses of the American Indians are made from these feathers. During my walk in the forest with Steve Copeland, I came across a rare Spotted Owl feather. These owls molt for a mere two week period every year. I lent this feather to a friend who had stage-four cancer and today he stands looking healthy as a horse. Thanks Steve--for the walk and the feather too.
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