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Meghan M. Hicks Wednesday, 28 December 2011 07:34 TWEET COMMENTS 1

From Sea to Summit - Page 4

A Wild Descent

We check our watches, do some fast math and realize that this will be today's turnaround point if we want to beat darkness to our campsite. On the climb, I enjoyed the long views of the Santa Lucia Mountains' 5000-foot peaks and the wild blue ocean expanse. On the descent, I appreciate the trail's buffed-out surface. We float down the mountain, legs moving fast with each footfall into the fine-grained, grippy dirt. Where the trail curls upon itself, we flail and flap our arms to guide our turns.

We soon return to the tall grass and I hear the ocean's roar. I catch glimpses of Highway One snaking along the land's contours, the first sign of humanity in hours. When we arrive back at the trailhead, we are covered in a sticky mix of perspiration, ocean salt and poison oak's toxic urushiol. Bryon grins and says, about both this trip and the trail, I suspect, "That was a nice surprise." We remove the irritant with a Technu wipe-down, take a few pulls on a bottle of cold water, gobble up some juicy watermelon and settle into the Kirk Creek Campground for the night.

Throwing together dinner over a camp stove, we stretch our legs between stirs of the pot and turn west to watch a fireball sun drop below the sea's horizon. The Kirk Creek Campground, a small Forest Service campground perched 100 feet above the ocean on a grassy bluff, provides us with a wide-open westward view. Without meaning to, I find myself fist pumping the sunset, the first day of our Big Sur vacation and being smack in the middle of where the wild things are.



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