Big Sur in Springtime

Big Sur in Springtime

On Easter Sunday we hiked a few fingers of the great hand of God, the Santa Lucia mountains and the coast line of Big Sur. The Big Sur river itself, just 4 days before, had churned its muddy way over the bridge on Highway One, and half-buried several cars in a once green meadow. The raging fires of last summer had left lots of open earth. The later winter rains had saturated it and a nondescript shower on Tuesday had been the more than the muchness needed for one section up river, loosed it and down it came. By Saturday the earth movers and shovel handlers had been out and the road was open, the river clear and cold. No one had been injured.

The climb up to Buzzards’ Roost from the south end of the bridge is over an hour of not quite continuous switchbacks almost entirely through cool coastal redwood forests. Maidenhair and five-fingered fern, miners’ lettuce, the ubiquitous redwood sorrel with its three clover like heart-shaped leaves, some sprouting lovely white flowers spread wide along the trail. Big leaf maple, sycamore and alder try to out compete the redwoods, here and there succeeding. A solitary brown creeper makes its way steadily up a redwood trunk looking for lunch. Stellar jays scream to each other, yak at us. The egg-yolk yellow of a warbler captures our attention for a long as she’ll stay still — not long at all.

Coastal Redwood, Big Sur

Coastal Redwood, Big Sur

At the top of the climb, the shelter of the trees below, the final yards of the trail lined with blackberry brambles and manzanita, we stand in chaparral, sage and beautiful yellow deerweed, waist high, and see the broad expanse of the Pacific, the fog-belt cinched four miles off-shore. The wind is still cool though the heat is noticible. Beneath our feet is a tumble of magma, hard-cooked layers of sandstone that have been through the trenches of hell before being pushed to these heights. Distinct bands of yellows and ochres from river run-off millions of years ago are clearly visible — all in God’s own unmistakable signature.