Home: Pfeiffer State Park hiker/biker campsite
Waking in the near-dark, I started my usual routine of getting coffee and breakfast started, while Rett stretched in the tent. I opened the food-storage box, and immediately saw that our hot pad had been ripped to shreds. What?! Mice! It was a metal box, unlike the wooden ones we had been using in much of California, but I won’t call it a “bear box”, since it had no bear-proof latch, and no latch at all actually, with large rocks used to hold the doors closed. But it was strangely close to the ground, and was manufactured with several small (drainage?) holes in the bottom. Presumably they had gotten in through there.
A quick inventory revealed they had nibbled some bits off a scone, and bitten the end off a bag of chocolate chips, but really most of the damage was to the hot pad, and a paper chopsticks wrapper. Stupid mice. But there was also damage to our food-safety confidence. I spent 20 minutes attempting to seal the holes, variously using electrical tape, a flat bike wrench, round sticks, and our flat-bottomed pots to do the best job I could against an enemy whose capabilities I didn’t fully understand.
It turned out that we didn’t really need to worry about the mice getting to our breakfast, because, at our well-planned Safeway trip yesterday, we had completely forgotten to get breakfast items! Well, luckily the campground is one of the biggest forms of civilization in Big Sur, with a lodge, a restaurant, and a store (actually, two stores, apparently one deep in the 170-site campground that we conveniently never needed to venture into).
Last night I had walked over to check out the store, and loved the tiered redwood-encircling wooden pathways, backlit with the warm glow of hanging cafe lights, that made it feel remarkably like the Ewok village party at the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’. There are few things I love more than National Park lodge architecture, and while this was “only” a State Park, it somehow had that National Park feel with all of its brown wood, stone, and amenities amongst the trees (we later learned that this was one of the few state-level parks that the Civilian Conservation Corps had worked at, which perfectly explains the feeling). So getting breakfast at the restaurant, something Rett would normally need to sell me on, required no convincing at all.
They allow two-night stays at the Pfeiffer hiker/biker site, so today would be an “off day” of hiking. Once again, the hiker/biker site was perfectly located at the head of the campground, right near the trailheads, so we were able to climb up the Buzzard’s Roost trail, come back down, eat lunch, reset at our site, and then climb up the other side of the valley to Pfeiffer Falls. All without totally wrecking ourselves.
For the last day of November, it was remarkably warm, with waves of warmth coming up the shaded hillside to Buzzard’s Roost, and then the nearly 80-degree sun beating down on us at the treeless top, making the trail seem very aptly named.
Pfeiffer Falls was cooler, and prettier, rising through a narrow valley of redwoods along a well-engineered path. Near the top, it was very odd to be able to glance through the trees and see a sun-drenched, dry-grass mountainside rising behind them; rarely is the dividing line between microclimates so stark and visible.
We had a second night of beef-jerky ramen, still excellent, and then had enough time for both a campfire and a movie (“Practical Magic”, starring Nicole Kidman, also of “Big Little Lies”) It was our first attempt to use our fabric screen outdoors, and hung from the end of the the picnic table, it performed well, with the low-volume audio being the more-limiting factor (the little wind that kept the screen from waving about too much unfortunately meant that the campfire didn’t perform nearly as well!)
Once again we felt like the entire campground was our own, a completely different feeling than our five nights in the Monterey city campground. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but I think we’d both take the solitude if forced to choose.