Thursday, February 23, 2006

Coastal Longings

Between trying to get work done, I have been peeping at the live feed of today's stage in Big Sur.

Ahhh...Big Sur.

I know that coastline so well, that I can identify all the little coves and cliffs the helicopter camera zooms past. I can smell the salty rocky kelp air and hear the thunder of the waves as ocean meets mountains. There is no sound on the helicopter feed, but thats okay, I know the sounds.

These are my old stomping grounds. Literally.

Before cycling ruled my life, I hiked these parts several times a week. Often times even stealing away after work to hike a ridge and watch the sun set behind the most beautiful panarama in my world.

My favorite hike is a little spot south of the highlands called Soberanes Point/Garrapata Ridge. If you have hiked it you know why. The trail is like a symphony that slowly unfolds and changes, with a bold crescendo at the top, a dropped note pause, and a pleasant rippling dance of notes that carry you to the bottom.

The noisy coastal mayhem of ocean/mountain clash, gives way to a quiet arroyo section of cacti covered hillsides with only the rippling sounds of a small stream and the busy buzz of insects.

A trudge further down the trail lands you quite suddenly into a dense and moist redwood grove. The babbles of the brook echo off the giant trees. The wind creaks at the top of the trees.

A climb up and out of the grove, leads to the real climb, about 2,000 feet to the top of the mountain at the edge of the world. The rhythmic sounds of breathing guide your feet up the steep slopes.

I have fond memories of the top. Peering out at the little ribbon that is highway 1 and the funny little ant cars zipping along it. You can hear the roar of the ocean and the bark of the lions from up there, but you pleasantly cannot hear the cars. They don't matter from this perspective.

The rush of the warm thermal winds brush past your ears.

Once, while standing on the edge, soaking in the wind/sun/scenery/glory, I came eye to eye with a condor. The bird suddenly appeared, lofted by the draft, and paused on the winds directly in front of me. It took some time for me to realize that this landing craft with the naked red head and tags on its wings was a mythical condor. And maybe it took the condor some time to realize that I was still alive. The nine foot wingspan took my breath away and filled my field of view. And during that time, there were no sounds. At least none that I remember. All was paused. But eventually, the great bird flicked a wing feather, kicked a 45 degree angle, and drifted off.

After a pause and some time to ponder or not ponder the glory of life you head down the face of the ridge.

The trail back has a full frontal view of the ocean and depending on the time of year is lined with wildflowers. A poppy path colorfully displays the way home. The trail is steep, the footing slippery, and the feeling of whirling downhill almost out of control, delightful. Rocks crunch and grind under your feet. Some pebbles escape and bink boink down the cliff. Small laughter sometimes escapes too.

At the bottom, the trail slows. You are back at the entrance. The creek burbles and churkles as it slowly meanders through the Calla Lillys, as if to prolong the inevitable plunge into the ocean. This is the last distinct sound before you come out of the canyon and are greeted by the return of the ocean crunch and crash.

I can't wait to share this music with him.


At 1:18 PM, February 23, 2006, Anonymous Jed said...

Jeezus dude, you're smarter than you look.

At 1:49 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger X Bunny said...

a fellow hiker

i recognize the joy of the sounds, the sights, the trek

do you ever backpack?

we often do in the fall but didn't last year...i definitely missed it...

no one to blame but myself because i think it was cx that got in the way...

At 2:16 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Miss Mary said...

i use to hike a lot too, even use to organize a summer hiking series once upon a time...

my favs are Castle Rock and Stinson Beach/Mt. Tam

At 2:18 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Miss Mary said...

oh and i love a short hike on LG Creek Trail where they don't allow bikes but have great creek stops for doggies...took mine there yesterday to play.

At 2:22 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger pink fishnets said...

schwweeet vb, you poet.

me likey hikey too.

At 2:43 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

reminds me of a flynn sunset in sputnik ... remember?

i have good associations with the sun dropping now.


i suppose hiking will be the same.



At 2:47 PM, February 23, 2006, Anonymous Jed said...

Cut the schmoop, Mike.

At 2:59 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger pink fishnets said...


At 3:11 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

I used to be quite the dayhiker and the occasional backpacker.

I would bring my friends out for hikes and then race them to the tops of the hills. Thank goodness I found cycling. Day hikes are no place for such silly competitiveness.

While I wouldn't mind setting out for a day hike every now and then, I think I am too old and spoiled for the backpacking.

At 3:12 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

Mmm...Flynn Sunset

NOw how am I supposed to get any work done?

At 3:12 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

You will have to ask Jed about the loafers.

At 4:34 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger ginmtb said...

Jed, I've finally figured out that you can't stop the schmoop, you can only hope to contain it.

At 5:01 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

Embrace your inner schmooooop

you know you wanna

At 6:18 PM, February 23, 2006, Anonymous Jed said...

It's all about the loafers.

So pimp.

At 6:30 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger X Bunny said...

never too old for backpacking

we have a friend in his 70's who kicks our butts

the spoiled part is an issue though i'll agree

but being away from the world (phones, mail, internet, tv, cars, everything) is a type of spoiled all on it's own

At 7:41 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger Velo Bella said...

being away from the world...that happens every time oV and I are alone together

At 8:21 PM, February 23, 2006, Blogger X Bunny said...

i know that feeling

but i find it exhilarating in a different way to know there is no way anyone can find me or that i can contact them

must be the dangerous-thrill-seeking me (that's also why i'm such a great downhiller)

At 7:22 AM, February 24, 2006, Anonymous Jed said...

schmoop factor 10.



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