Day 26: Andrew Molera to San Simeon State Park

September 20, 2013. 73.79 miles.

Today was long and hard, though I didn’t really notice until the last 10 miles or so at which point I basically crashed.

The morning was incredibly cold. I was freezing, and when I poked my head outside the tent I could clearly see my breath.  Plaid shirt guy was also up, and we stood there shivering and watching as the sun slowly poked it’s nose over the hills. It was amazing what a difference direct sun made. It was almost like standing in front of a warm fire.

The guys got going before me. I took my time, and gave my bike some needed attention. I greased the seat post (stopped the squeak, yay!), cleaned off the chain as well as I could, re-lubed it, and finally loaded everything up. While I was doing all of this, a hoard of ground squirrel creatures swarmed the picnic table. They had absolutely no fear of me – I basically couldn’t chase them off. They seemed to be finding various crumbs, and they were very excited about the small paper bag with my garbage (wrappers and food scraps). I finally walked the trash over to the dumpster just to make them stop.

The day started and ended with large hills, and the bit in between was pretty much constant up and down on a smaller scale. This was definitely a contender for hardest day of the trip. The Big Sur scenery was nice, of course. But it is an unfortunate truth that there is a strong inverse correlation between quality of views and quality of shoulder. Highway 1 through Big Sur is fairly narrow, with a moderate amount if traffic, and is basically on the edge of a cliff. I just had to decide not to think about how I could probably kill myself in any number of ways without much effort. Obviously, I survived the experience.

I stopped for lunch at xxxx Park, which was jammed with tourists. They all drove in, circled around for parking, paid their $10 parking fee, and joined the parade of people walking down the path to see some waterfall. I decided not to go see the waterfall – the throngs not people weren’t all that appealing even though I like waterfalls.

The last hill if the day was one of those deceptive double-peaked affairs. The first climb was long and stressful, with each successful climb around a bend revealing more hill beyond. Then there was a significant downhill, followed by a repeat of the hill, though somewhat shorter. Finally there was the well-earned long decent out of Big Sur and onto the flats beyond.

The road was generally flat, and I had a significant tailwind, and I only had a few miles to go, but I had a hard time managing it. I was really exhausted! Nevertheless, there were a few interesting sites – an intentional burn of some grassland just finishing up, and a beach full of elephant seals.

I need a grocery store, and the map indicated there was one in San Simeon Village. There were lots of hotels and restaurants, but the best I could find for groceries was a mini mart which didn’t have much. At least I got chocolate milk and smartfood popcorn.

The guys from last night were just setting up camp when I rolled in to the campground. The hiker/biker area is right next to the highway, which is unfortunate.  But I don’t think it will matter – I can sleep through a lot these days.  The hugs made a giant pot of mashed potatoes from a bag of dried stuff we found in the food box at last night’s site. They offered me some, which was perfect since I didn’t have real dinner (plenty of calories, just weird bits of this and that). The potatoes were warm and salty, which was perfect.

Last night, when I woke up completely freezing I pulled out my emergency blanket thingy (highly reflective sheet of some metallic thing that works well but is rather loud when moved at all). It didn’t really help much last night, but it’s already rather chilly here so I’m going to start out with it today and try to stay warm.

Bronwyn Woods