Pine Ridge Trail
Katie stood her backpack up in front of her and checked to make sure everything was held securely. “Hey, can you lift the pack on me?”
Rory nodded his head and held her pack up as she faced away from him. He maneuvered the bag as she pulled herself into the pack, tightening the waist and shoulder straps. Rory slung his pack onto his back, and tightened it. He dug his cowboy hat from the truck and pulled out two walking sticks. “Which one do you want, Katie?”
“That one, the smaller one.”
“Okay, are we ready?” He made sure the doors were locked and she nodded.
“We’re off!” They smiled at each other and began their adventure up the headwaters of the Big Sur River.
“Follow that sign, Katie. We’re taking Pine Ridge Trail. We’ve got about ten miles to Sykes, where the hot springs are. Barlow Flats is a few miles before, where we can stay the night if we don’t get far enough this afternoon. If we walk as slow as two miles an hour, we should get there by seven.”
They walked single file along the narrow path enjoying the sunny quiet of mid-afternoon. The path followed the gorge carved by the Big Sur River as it drained the western slopes of the Santa Lucia Mountains into the ocean. An occasional bird would chirp its location, and the tree branches emitted a whooshing sound when the wind whirled through their tops. The trail was a footpath carved into the round face of the mountain side two hundred feet above the bottom of the canyon. Rory looked across the Big Sur River gorge to the other side. There the south-facing slope was hot and dry, drenched in unrelenting sunlight.
“This is a great view. Look!” Rory stopped at an overlook, pointing at the tree-covered slopes marching ahead of them, fading into the sky. “I'm thirsty, can you dig out my water bottle?”
“Now we’re making real time; we'll probably get all the way to the hot springs by this evening,” he said slowing down for a water break. “Oh yeah, we’re doing great. Here’s where Ventana Creek veers to the right.” Stopping to set his pack down, he fished the bottle out himself and was sipping when she caught up.