Saturday, June 28, 2008

Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur, CA

Before nearly every single leg of my trip there reached a point where it looked like it wasn't going to turn out. There was a point while I was sick in Seattle I thought about calling the whole trip off, then I got better. In Portland I had all but given in to cut out Redwood National Park and Napa Valley, then I met Elizabeth, and it was the same thing all over again leaving Berkeley. I thought it would be a travesty if I traveled from northern California to Southern California without traveling on supposedly, the most beautiful road in the country, Highway 1, but that was just what I was going to do since I couldn't find a ride going that way. I was almost out the door in Berkeley to head directly down to LA taking the ugly Highway 5 on a bus most likely, until a girl named Mimi emailed me at the last minute. Mimi became my savior for this leg of the trip.

Mimi and two of her close friends were going to hike Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur California, and they were willing to give me a ride. Little did they know that after hearing their plans I wanted to hike and camp with them as well, and after some extensive conversation with Mimi she decided it would be fine for me to come along. She broke it to her friends nice and easy, "So like, this hitchhiker guy is going to come camping with us."

I didn't know until Mimi and I were picking her friends up that they weren't in on the decision to let me come, Mimi made it on her own, and then just dropped that bomb on them. So as we pulled up basically next to the "Full House" houses in downtown San Francisco to pick up Sarah and John I was really nervous about getting the cold shoulder. I don't know what I would have acted like if I was John, and I had to share a tent with some stranger that my friend just decided could come with. The nervousness grew as they came out the front door and approached the steps. The handshakes and hellos were understandably forced, and rigid, but I gave up the front seat as a sign of good faith. Soon after, all my worries were forgotten because not only was John from Jersey, he's a staunch Jersey supporter and defender like I am, so we got along great. And now with another person to make fun of easily because I was from Jersey, Mimi and Sarah enjoyed having double the impact on their old Jersey jokes. It worked out well for all parties, but none more than me.

We even stopped over in Santa Cruz for a night which worked out UNBELIEVABLY perfect for me because I got to spend the night at a high school friends place, who I wanted to see in San Fran, but she was busy moving to Santa Cruz the whole week I was in the area. So again at the last moment I called her and things fell into place. Not only did I see her and meet her friends and roommates, but I got to attend her housewarming party! A Santa Cruz party is something I will not soon forget. Nor will I forget being introduced to "the Box Game", a drinking game that was undoubtedly created by a heavily intoxicated human being who's only possessions were alcohol and a cardboard box. I had to say goodbye to Sally within 24 hours, but I felt so lucky to be able to see her at all.

Then we were off to Big Sur, and more specifically, Sykes Hot Springs. I got to see the northern part of the Pacific Coast Highway on the way though, and it did not disappoint. This strip of pavement is truly an amazing thing. It is basically untouched beauty for miles and miles. Blue oceans with cliffs, rocks coming right out of the water, empty beaches, and white waves crashing relentlessly creating a beautiful surf on the right side. Then on the other side of the road there are beautiful green hills, huge Redwoods, and an entirely different but still breathtaking beauty. Highway 1 was even better than I expected, and the fact that it led to Big Sur was just another bonus.

We ended up hiking the 10 miles through Big Sur to get to Sykes Hot Springs, and it wasn't what any of us expected. Although I don't think we knew what to expect. These "hippie" getaways can be pretty secretive, Sykes was no exception. The 10 mile hike in may have been a bit much for these 4 small hot tubs, but it was still quite the experience. Out of the 10 people there I ran into an old Penn State friend (lucky), and was able to see a few nudists (not lucky).

We camped around a fire, took dips in the hot springs that hugged the edge of a beautiful river, and relaxed. I really liked it but if I had to do it again I would pack more than 12 peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches for food, and I'd stay longer than one night. Twenty miles in two days for only a few hours in a hot spring isn't worth it. I had a great time though. Meeting Mimi, Sarah, and John made this part of the trip awesome. They have done a lot of traveling together and it was great hanging out with them, getting to know them, and hearing some of their stories.

Ok, check out the pictures if you're interested, otherwise, next stop is LA.

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