New adventures on the road sometimes bring frustrating days. We had two such days in a row while passing through Big Sur (California) and Mount. Tamalpais (California), a state park just north of the Golden State Bridge. One day, KC and I woke up in the middle of a cold and windy rain torrent. We were planning to do our first overnight backpacking trip that day and woke up early to get to the trail in the morning. Since the wind and rain were coming down like there was no tomorrow, we decided to wait an hour or so to let the wind and rain dissipate to start packing up the camp. The weather didn’t let up and we discovered that most items in the tent, including our bedding and some of our clothes, were soaking wet (the “weatherproof” tent was not as “weatherproof” as the manufacturer claimed). Despite the stormy weather, we packed up our campsite and prepared our packs for the overnight backpacking hike. This was a miserable hour and we ended up soaking wet and arguing about the best way to pack during of that time.
At this point, we decided to cancel the hike. Then we made it to the trailhead (about 20miles north of the campground) and found found that the weather was sunny and great for a hike. After talking it over, we decided to do the hike anyways. By the time we started hiking, it was 12:45PM and we had 10miles with two 1500ft ascents (two big hills), so we needed to have a quick pace to make it there before nightfall.
When we started hiking, I realized that my camel back mouthpiece was broken and leaked almost one third of my water. Now stubbornly wanting to complete the hike, I pushed onward with less water (I had a backup water filter, if I needed to drink river/cold spring water in an emergency). This also meant that packed water would not be as easily accessed and I was regularly checking my pack for water leaks throughout the hike. Near mile two, I took a nasty fall on some rocks that badly bruised and scrapped both my knees, ripped my pants, and cut open my right hand.
It was on the second ascent, between miles seven and eight, after over half a mile going up a steep (3:1 or 33% grade almost) slope, where the hike felt like a death march and I began wondering why I agreed to this. My knees were in pain from the fall and my back was starting to ache from the weight of the pack (I am not used to carrying heavy packs more than a few miles for rock climbing). KC seemed to be in the same boat. Around mile nine, we made it to the top of the second ascent and were rewarded with a sunset view of the valley and with a promise of a steep downhill path. Eventually, we made it to the campground.
I will say that camping that night was almost a piece of heaven after the long torturous hike. The temperature in the valley was warmer than on the hike or even that at the Big Sur campground the night before. KC and I set up camp in the waning light of dusk and made a nice dinner from MREs (made ready to eat, dehydrated packs of food) and a dessert of dehydrated mint ice cream. Then we checked out the hot springs. There were five hot springs pools, three of them only able to fit one or two people and two of them able to fit four or more people. We soaked about an hour each in both the larger pools and socialized with some of the other campers. The hot water did wonders to sooth my knees and back. By the time we got out of the water we felt refreshed.
We got up early the next morning and faced the long hike back to car. On the way back, we needed to keep a fast pace because we had a four-hour drive ahead of us to make it to the next campground at Mount. Tamalpais. I’m grateful that the hike back was a lot less eventful than the hike in and we made it back to the car in once piece.
After hiking, we checked on our soaking bedding and clothes and realized that we would need to stop at a laundromat because they smelled like mold. So, once we made it to Monterrey, we needed to find a laundry mat. We wandered around Cannery Row for a couple of hours before doing laundry, but by the time we were back on the road, it was after 7PM.
Due to some road work in San Francisco, a short stop to enjoy a Ghirardelli sundae, and traffic near the big city, we didn’t make it to the campground until just after 11PM. At this point, after a ten-mile hike with packs, a four-hour plus drive, laundry, and site seeing, both of us were exhausted. We arrived to the campsite to find that someone took our reserved campsite and, according to the camp host, all the other campsites were taken. Her advice to us was to walk around the walk-in campground to see if someone else didn’t take a campsite or to set up camp on someone else’s campsite. So after walking around all the campsites with our camping gear, we set up on what looked like an empty camp site, only to find out after we set up that there was a tent across from us on the campsite. By the time we were ready to sleep, it was 12:30AM. And so ended those long 48 hours.
Having to push through weather, pain, and exhaustion to travel to a campground, tear down and set up camp made me better appreciate the comforts of a stationary home where there’s a bed waiting for you at the end of the day.