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Old 05-08-2012, 01:13 AM   #1
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Above it all.

Spent the last two weeks on the Big Sur coast and in central California. The first day I drove down the Salinas river road and stopped at the Mission Soledad:

The mission was beautifully restored in the 1950's from basically a pile of mud. It has lovely olive groves in the back with orange and lemon trees in the front garden. The smell of the citrus in blossom was remarkable. I wanted to steal some of the fruit, but decided against it. I did, however, donate a bottle of wine to their annual wine auction to raise maintenance funds. Spent that night at an old favorite: Arroyo Seco campground:

Stayed a few days in Carmel, ate too much, then headed to Big Sur for what turned out to be a frustrating day of locked gates blocking public roads through the national forest. I guess it's easier to close the roads than take care of them. A friend from Santa Cruz sent me further south to Los Burros road about a mile north of Gorda, CA. Eight miles off the road, and 2900 feet above the Pacific, I found the most spectacular camp site I've ever had:

Had it all to myself too.

In the morning the fog had rolled up the canyons below me:

After tearing myself from the view I poked around the area and drove up the central coast ridge road. Spectacular views the whole way:

Followed the ridge road north to Nacimiento road hoping to go up to Cone Peak campground. Instead I found another locked gate, so I headed inland to the Hunter-Liggett army base. I've been visiting the Mission San Antonio there for years so it was fun to see it again. What I hadn't done before, was explore the Los Padres forest north of the base. Beautiful California savanna. Rolling hills, oak trees and some surprising rock formations. The map showed several campgrounds, but again, a locked gate blocked the public road.

Found a great place to camp anyway:

On Thursday I headed to Syncro de Mayo held for the past dozen years at the Hollister SVRA off road park:

For those not terribly cool, Syncro de Mayo is a gathering of VW Vanagon 4wd vans: . I've been going for years, but this year was invited even though my "Syncro" might stick out. I tried to disguise the SMB with a VW badge on the grill, but controversy ensued. Not really, they liked the rig especially after I drove it to the top with some of the hard core off roaders. Great fun to see what the SMB can do on the tight, steep, twisty trails. Spent three days there eating too much and visiting with old friends.

California can be maddening, but it's a beautiful, fun place. Back to Idaho.


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Old 05-08-2012, 09:12 AM   #2
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Re: Above it all.

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Old 05-08-2012, 09:32 AM   #3
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Re: Above it all.

Sounds absolutely great, well, except for the locked gates that is. Way, way back when, I've been to some places that require you to check-in and/or get permits, at which point they will give you a combination to the locks on the gate. I think this for for keeping track of who is where, and probably to limit access.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:03 AM   #4
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Re: Above it all.

A number of years ago the US Forrest Service started putting in "Foul Weather Gates" in California and locking them during winter and spring months, when snow and rain make them susceptible to damage and erosion from vehicles - at least that is the stated reason. Public Lands, LOL!

Cool trip, even with limited access.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:32 AM   #5
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Re: Above it all.

I got to get back to that area one of these days. Looks like you had a great time. Last month the rangers in that area told me that they had closed several trails around there due to slides. They also closed several CG's because of the "slick mud" but I figured most would be open by now...guess not. BTW, what a killer camp.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:31 PM   #6
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Re: Above it all.

Thanks Tom. Great report and pictures. Wish I hadn't missed my California Coast trip last year. Maybe someday in the future.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:53 AM   #7
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Re: Above it all.

bringing this back from the dead, sorta.

headed up from So Cal to Salinas then back this weekend.

that campsite above the clouds, PM me if you want, but:
1) how did you get there?
2) did you have to reserve and pay to camp there?

I ask because I looked up under Big Sur and its all sold out.

If we don't find a camp near Big Sur, my back up plan was Arroyo Seco.

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