Being the cool older brother that he is, Shawn wanted to plan something fun for Kyle’s birthday. Unlike many of the Batman themed events we’ve done in the past, we settled on a little backpacking trip in Big Sur, specifically a spot called Vicente Flats. We drove up early on Saturday morning and made it to Big Sur around noon.
On the way, we stopped to check out the Elephant Seals on the beach. I honestly had no idea how awesome these animals were until we arrived on the beach to see them laying about and fighting in the water. All their blubber would ripple as they glided across the sand. And the noises! The beach was filled with mostly males and they sounded like crazy garbage disposals. In short, they were amazing. Summer is when there are the least seals on the beach, so now I’m really looking forward to coming back during pup season.
We had tofu salad sandwiches on a rocky beach before heading up the trail. There was still a little bit of cloud cover as we started hiking up, giving us a little relief from the blazing summer sun. The trail made its way up along the hillside, giving us a spectacular view of the coast. It was nice to have a cool sea breeze since there was about 1800′ elevation gain. I loved seeing how the terrain changed as we moved through the hills, starting out with dense, varied bushes and flowers (and poison oak) to a field of dried grasses. The path was clear the whole time though and we passed a handful of day hikers on the way up.
We reached a view point and stopped to take a look at ocean expanse in front of us. In the distance we saw something in the water and realized it was a whale. From so high up, it was hard to comprehend the scale of the tiny tail fin in the water. Up and up we went on the trail until finally the trail turned away from the water and we started heading into the valley. We passed the Espinosa Camp and the tiny spring right after it but kept on going. Soon we were surrounded by coastal redwoods and heading steadily down. Finally we found ourselves in a clearing at the Vicente Flat camp.
The first campsite is quite large with room enough for all three of our tents and even featured a picnic table. The river by the site was dry but there was water running about a quarter mile beyond. There were several other people camping in the area but far enough away that we didn’t hear them or really see them beyond passing by when collecting water or hiking out in the morning.
For dinner we grilled some veggie cheese burgers and baked beans. Daiya cheese is not my favorite but it is the absolute best on a veggie burger or breakfast sandwich. I was excited that the burgers fit perfectly in the fry lid of my snow peak trek 900.
Shawn thought it would be awesome to bring a cake for Kyle so I cooked one up the day before we left and froze it along with a bag of frosting. We divided the elements between us in our backpacks so the cakes weren’t terribly crushed and the frosting was still cold when we arrived. Shawn did the honors of frosting the cake when we arrived and we ate almost all of it (some nearby campers took the last pieces off our hands). It was super tasty and we were all pretty stuffed.
We just relaxed for the rest of the evening and goofed off with some glow sticks. I watched some bats circle one of the nearby redwoods as the light faded. We had picked up a new light weight tent before this trip and it was awesome. Super cozy but not claustrophobic. I was pretty sure I heard some animals in the night and in the morning we saw a baby skunk running down the riverbed. So adorable! In the morning we had breakfast, packed up and headed back. The hike out was just as stunningly beautiful as in the way in.
photos by Shawn Bannon