Oct 31 2013
random trip report
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My Canadian friend Yvonne is in town for the big Internet Librarian conference in Monterey, so we decide to check out Big Sur, where I haven't been in decades.
Some online research suggests the Tan Bark Trail in Julia Pfieffer State Park. We go there, stopping on the way at the butterfly sanctuary in Pacific Grove. It turns out the trailhead is a few miles north. So we do the quick 'Waterfall Beach' trail. The waterfall isn't much - roughly the flow of a horse pissing.
We drive north but fail to see any trailhead. We stop at a tourist art gallery with sleek marble sculptures of rotund derrieres. I ask a lady who works there and she draws a map. The trailhead is indeed invisible from the road.
The trail goes for a couple of miles up a redwood-lined valley. The bases of the trees were charred by a big fire at some point, but they survived.
The web pages describing this hike say that it's confined at first but eventually opens out into 'mind-blowing vistas that stretch for mile upon mile, as far as the eye can see' or something to that effect. And in particular that this will hold once you reach the 'Tin Hut'.
As we approach the top of the valley, there are no vistas of note. In fact, tall manzanita on both sides of the trail keep you from seeing much of anything. We take a spur that leads more steeply uphill, but this doesn't lead to increased vistocity.
We turn around and descend, stopping for a while near some tall madrone trees with lots of woodpeckers and other birds.
We continue, expecting to hit the main trail, but instead, in a moment of complete reality failure, we run into a dirt road with signs for various places, including the Tin Hut. We brush off the ominous Blair Witch Project overtones and decide to to visit the Tin Hut, in hopes of the promised Vistas.
The Tin Hut is a bizarre, rusting, semi-collapsed metal structure of uncertain purpose. The view from there is unexceptional.
We elect to descend the fire road instead of the trail. This turns out to be a good decision, and the exposed road offers the first unimpeded views of the hike.
However, it goes a ways south and hits Highway 1 at a Vista Point turnout roughly a mile south of our car. I leave my pack and Yvonne there and jog back to the car.
On the way back we stop at a beach just north of Point Lobos.