Every year for my friend Julie’s birthday, friends are invited on a hike. Her husband Randy does the organizing. This year, as her kids are getting older, they decided to to the big one- Big Basin to the Sea. It’s 12 miles, starting at the park headquarters, climbing a ridge, then slowly down into the Waddell Valley to Berry Creek Falls, and out through Rancho Del Oso to Waddell Beach. My memory of the trip (I’ve done it 2 or 3 times, but something like 10 or 15 years ago) was that the climb up that first ridge had me huffing and puffing and wishing I’d had a walking stick. The long walk down after that had made the bottoms of my feet ache before I’d even reached Berry Creek Falls for lunch. I decided to prepare in advance- I wanted to carry less with me- a fanny pack instead of a shoulder bag, new athletic shoes instead of hiking boots, and a walking stick I’d collected on another hike about a decade ago, and had never used. The result- happy feet, happy back, and surprise at how much better shape I’m in now than I was the last time. I couldn’t believe how soon we reached the top of the ridge. Not huffing at all. The 6 miles to Berry Creek Falls didn’t wear me out, and even after the last 6 miles, my feet were fine. I’ll admit to having lots of achy areas the next day, and a few minor aches still, 3 days after, but I’m really happy about the whole thing. I took lots of pictures along the way, so here’s a photo essay of the hike I hope you’ll enjoy. You can click on any picture for a full sized version of it.
To start the trip, we met at the bus depot at 8:30 am for the one bus going to Big Basin. When we got to headquarters, we availed ourselves of the facilities, then all posed in the Auto Tree for a photo. The Auto Tree is no longer marked as such and you can no longer back a car into it for photos, but in the early park history, that was done all the time, and there are lots of photos and postcards of it.
I chatted with Randy on the way up the hill, and with Julie part of the way down. I kept stopping to take photos, while the parents in the group had to keep up with the kids, so I ended up bringing up the rear for quite a bit of the hike. Fortunately, although I enjoy walking with others and getting to know them better, I also enjoy walking alone in the peace and quiet, and hearing the small trickling creeks and babbling brooks, so a long hike like this gave be the best of both. In these photos, low light in the forest affects the colors and sharpness. Point and shoot cameras are convenient, but limited.
More scenery in this area:
Log with fungi:
Some of us took the side trail up to the falls where there is a deck and benches. Had lunch and enjoyed the rainbow across the middle of the falls.
From this point on, there were only two other non-parents in the group that strolled for the remaining 6 miles (while parents and all kids headed fairly quickly toward the beach, where the kids wanted to go.) They were sometimes walking with me, sometimes in front a minute or so, and sometimes a bit behind. The old road I remembered had washed out in a couple places during the intervening decade, so there are some trails going up and down on the hillsides where it used to be flat. More interesting, but I was starting to notice the climbing up and down muscles more.
More scenery along the trail:
At one point when the others were ahead of me, I came around a corner to see this:
I decided to lie down next to them and enjoy the view for a few minutes:
Scenery from the lower part of the forest:
Eventually, out of the forest, and onto the lower part of the dirt road:
In this area, we again met up with others from our group coming back up to meet us, along with some who drove to the beach to meet up with Julie and kids there, and wanted a short hike. We all walked together past the farms in the lower valley and the marsh , before crossing the highway to the beach.
In the beach picture, you can see a person at the far end where Waddell Creek enters the ocean. That’s where all the kids were playing. Some more of Julie’s friends joined us, and we all stayed to see the sunset, which was spectacular and lasted a very long time:
After sunset we got into cars of those who had met us at the beach, and drove to Whale City Cafe in Davenport for dinner and pie. More of Julie’s friends, and my husband Frank, showed up there, and we pretty well filled the place. I took one more sunset picture out the restaurant window, and a couple of the group in the restaurant, singing Happy Birthday to Julie (in birthday hat), and her twin sons (yes they were born on her birthday 9 years ago):