A Big Sur Aloha

The drive up from San Diego was a breeze. We just missed the holiday Saturday morning traffic. We we're so ahead of schedule, we stopped off at the lovely Dutch village of Solvang for Danish, and had Italian at Cambria for lunch.

Fortunately, we we're able to get side-by-side campsites. It was so nice seeing folks I haven't seen in months. After quickly pitching our tents, we took off for Hearst Castle. During the tour, we tried to scheme an impossible mission to sneak into the epicurean Neptune pool for a midnight swim. After witnessing alarms being set off from stepping off the tour carpet, drinking around the campfire seemed like a funner option.

That night around the campfire we had Guadalajara Burgers and a fabulous assortment of other dishes for Perfect Pace's first potluck. Mike brought a delicious chocolate cake to cap off our dinner. But probably the most intriguing dish was a very curious store bought egg custard pie. It was like nothing we've ever tasted before, with flavors we couldn't agree on. One ingredient that was confirmed though was soap. For leavening perhaps?

The next morning we started our 90 minute drive up to Big Sur. So far the weather that weekend was cold and cloudy, but just as we entered Big Sur, the warm blue skies opened up for us. As I expected, the trailhead parking lot was full, so we dropped off our gear and parked a 1/2 mile up at a dirt turn-off.

This was of course supposed to be our club-med trip of the year, so the pace all weekend was pretty much go at your own pace, or do what you want, which folks pretty much did. The hike in was gorgeous with humungous redwoods, ferns, and clover, irises, and other beautiful flowers, and even wild strawberries and rasberries. I got a great picture of one of the strawberries. Very tasty.

As trail sweep, I was one of the last to make it to base-camp, and after talking with Andy, it was determined that one person was missing. So we organized two search parties - to the two possible areas the person may have ventured off to. I was confident we would find him because the trail options we're very limited. To our relief, one of the search parties was able to fairly quickly locate him.

That night we had a nice toasty campfire and an assortment of martinis to choose from. That night I also showed of few a the guys how to hang food using the PCT thru-hiker's method.

The next day was my favorite day of all as we awoke at a leisurely hour and day-hiked to Sykes Hot Springs. We spent literally the whole day there relaxing in the hot springs and splashing around in the cool river. Our timing to the hot springs could not have been better. Most of the holiday crowd already hiked out. A few of us decided to ditch the swim suits and go au naturale. It was sooooooooo relaxing. Can you tell from the pictures? As we got ready to head back to camp, I felt like a million bucks. I felt like I spent the whole day at an exclusive day spa.

A few of the others pursued various adventures in the afternoon. Andy and Jeff went on a day-hike to Redwood Camp, which is another cool camping area in Big Sur. Jeremy and Joe bravely hiked down the river all the way to base-camp. They we're quite surprised when they got to one point of the river where they pretty much had to swim through it while holding their packs over their heads. Ask them how cold it was after they got out of the water.

That night Andy and I prepared a fabulous Hawaiian Luau dinner with Kahlua Pork, Soy and Ginger Chili Tuna, Asian pepper and snow pea salad, steamed rice, Blue Hawaiians, and another one of Andy amazing dessert creations, Coconut and Macadamia truffles. I managed to shamelessly hula dance in front of my comrades. We we're adorned in colorful leis and Hawaiian costume. Life was good. Later that night we had a very fun round of Perfect Pace questions. And yes, what's said on the mountain stays on the mountain.

We ended our fabulous vacation with a quick hike back to the trailhead and fine-dined at the famous Nepenthe restaurant.

Every year I look forward to the Memorial Day weekend backpack. With hot springs, swimming holes, fantastic meals, and most of all - great company, it typically turns out to be one of the best events of the year. And with this year's Hawaiian Luau, what can I say, but Aloha... :)

Thanks to Jeff and Jeremy for their picture contributions. Jeremy, you're pics are outstanding. Thanks to everyone who has helped with dinner, cleanup, gathering firewood, being part of the search mission, driving, hanging food... (yes, every little bit helps). Special thanks to Andy for all his help in orchestrating this event. Perfect Pace wouldn't be where its at without all your help. A few folks have commented to me that this was one of their favorite Perfect Pace trips. Thank you all for such an amazing vacation!

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Perfect Pace is a non-profit, gay backpacking and hiking organization, serving men and women for the Southern California area. With most of its members residing in Los Angeles and San Diego, the club is run solely by volunteers. The events are typically strenuous and cater to in-shape adventure seekers. Perfect Pace primarily focuses on overnight backpack trips in South and Central California and the Southwest, but also hosts many day-hikes and extreme power hikes. For more information visit their website by clicking here: http://www.perfectpace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=PerfectPaceApp.home

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