Big Sur, CA. // 3-day Backpacking trip to sykes hot springs

By Maggie -- Sep 23, 2014

I thought this post should be a little bit different than the rest because of how important it was for us in the grand scheme of this trip. I asked Ryan if he wanted to write this post instead of it being from my perspective as it always is, and he wasn't really into that. He said "but you do such a great job, you should just write it!" (Man of few words, he is). So we decided it might be fun to do a little Q&A so you can hear both sides of the story. 

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Q: What were you looking forward to most about this backpacking trip and why?

Ryan: For it to be over... When I was introduced to backpacking by a friend 5 years ago, he said, "Don't go into it thinking it's going to be fun and refreshing. It's going to suck a lot of of the time, but after it's all done, you won't regret a thing. It's one of the most accomplished feelings you'll ever have." I was excited for Maggie to understand that too.

Maggie: I was looking forward to finding out if I liked backpacking or if I hated it. It was my first backpacking trip! I've had a few opportunities in the past to go but either the timing wasn't right or I didn't have the gear. Ryan has been excited about going on an overnighter this whole road trip, so his time was finally here, and I knew I had no choice but to try it out. I was a little bit scared I would hate it. 

Q: Did it turn out as planned?

Ryan: To all extents, yes! I was proud of myself for sticking to the initial plan and not trying to convince her of going above and beyond by hitting a huge summit or something like I often do... We just got to enjoy the extended time we had in the backcountry. We didn't push it.

Maggie: I think so! He planned the whole trip, but only minimally. We had all the gear we needed, we both got sleep, we didn't break any bones, and we came out with smiles on our faces. I think it went swimmingly.

Q: What item or items did you forget to bring that you wish you had?

Ryan: Beers. Yea, I can't deny the great feeling of hiking into the woods that far and having a beer to celebrate the first night at least.

Maggie: I wish we would have brought chairs of some kind. When you're out there without the usual picnic tables at campsites, you're really just sitting on the unforgiving ground. Not that there's anything wrong with that… but sometimes it's nice to have that feeling of sitting back and relaxing after hours of hiking uphill... and not sitting on rocks and sticks and feeling your cheeks go numb.

Q: Highlights?

Ryan: Nights winding down with a couple of hot toddys, our first dinner (quinoa, veggies, leftover baby back ribs), 3-hour soak in the spring!

Maggie: Waking up and laying on my back with my head slightly outside of the tent, looking up at the canopy of trees. Also, Ryan passing me a hot cup of coffee in the morning and watching the bluebirds play in the creek. Oh, and squishing into a one-person tent and reading "Of Mice and Men" aloud to Ryan before going to sleep at 8pm. And one more thing… Ryan giving me a huge hug when we finally made it back to our car. It was a really proud moment for both of us!

{Can you find me in the photo above?}

Q: The not-so-fun moments?

Ryan: Ugh. The dreaded flies by far!

Maggie: I've done my fair share of pooping in the woods, but it's another thing when you're camping next to a bunch of people and there's nowhere to go where you're 100% hidden in privacy. Also you have to worry if you're going to step on someone else's 'doo because people tend to forget to dig a hole first. Bleh. Also - A skunk tried to sneak into our tent at 3am! That was trippy.

Q: How does this fit in with your overall experience of your honeymoon? How does it change the way you feel about travel?

Ryan: Our honeymoon life on the road is far from relaxing much of the time, so I'd say it fit right in! I had always intended for backpacking to be a great addition to this trip since we were going to be so close to some really fantastic backpacking locations. Unfortunately, it turned out that it was just a lot of hassle. Switching gears from our normal day-to-day, finding somewhere safe to park Donna and all the rest of our stuff and mostly just having the energy to do it!

Maggie: Not knowing what lies ahead is how we've been living for the past five months. Every day is a different adventure. "Where to next?" is a daily question. So, the only difference in Big Sur was that we were twice removed from our "home" (we've left our house and then our house on wheels behind) and we had to take it all on our backs. For me, it changed my views on what it means to get away from it all. There's traveling to campgrounds, and then there's backpacking - you're relying so much on yourself and nature to provide what you need to survive. You're 10 miles away from the nearest telephone and you can't run to the store to get something you forgot. So what you have in your tiny backpack becomes precious and you treat it with respect and care because it's all you got. I loved it. I can't wait to go again.

Q: Did it bring up any other thoughts or emotions?

Ryan: Yea, it made me realize that Maggie is really not as much of a whiner as I thought she would be! But really, I was so proud of her being so hard-working and determined. I felt like the further into the trip we got, the clearer she saw and the better we did as a team. I mean, what happens when there's two of us and only one book? We read to each other! Duh!!

Maggie: Deep down, I have always had a great fear of backpacking, just like I have a fear of swimming in big bodies of dark water. Both fears are based on a general fear of the unknown. I quickly realized how little I had to fear because Ryan is such an experienced backpacker. I felt confident once we got there, and I felt accomplished once we returned. Ryan was 100% supportive and encouraging and really excited for me. He wanted it to be the perfect introduction into backpacking, and it was! This trip really opened my eyes to what I can do if I trust that it's all going to turn out OK, trust the people that know what they're doing, and challenge myself a little.

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Santa Cruz, CA.

By Maggie -- Sep 20, 2014

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Haven't had much downtime where we've had good service, so apologies for the lack of written updates. We're currently in Monterey, about to pack up our backpacks and go on an overnight adventure into the hills of Big Sur. Our plan is to hike to Sykes hot springs, which is about 20 miles round trip (we'll stay 2 nights so we don't have to do this all in 24 hours). We should be getting back to our car on Monday afternoon-ish. It's my first backpacking trip and it's going to be a doozy, but from what we've read, well worth the effort!

When we get back, I'll write about Ryan's birthday in Santa Cruz and our time in Point Reyes. Lots to catch up on. Until Monday!

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Samuel Taylor State Park and Point Reyes, CA.

By Maggie -- Sep 18, 2014

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Point Reyes and Inverness hold a special place in our hearts. It's here we went five years ago on New Years Eve with our good friends Andy and Cassie to be a part of their wedding. I was the photographer and Ryan was the chief witness and drink pourer. We were honored to be the only two guests! They rented a beautiful ocean-rustic style home in the marsh of inverness. It was all wooden and covered in moss, with a long deck that stretched out into the water - perfect as an "aisle". I can remember that night of their wedding, the four of us walked up a winding, dark road in the rain to a house tucked away in the woods. This house wasn't an ordinary house - it was an elite and private restaurant. In the fireplace, crabs were cooking over some smoking coals, and people sat close to each other under tall lit candlesticks on candelabras that swooped down from the walls and rose out of the banisters. We explored (and partied) there for a few days before and after the ceremony and got to spend some quality time with the newlyweds and each other in that foggy wonderland. It was unforgettable for both of us. 

So, we went back! It was still foggy and beautiful, and it even rained one night. We didn't realize the first time we had went that this area is known for oysters. We tried raw oysters and bbq'd oysters with garlic butter, and went to check out the oyster farms where they let you shuck your own (we didn't, but next time..). We also went to the house that Andy and Cassie got married at, and took a picture and sent it to Cassie on her birthday. 

We camped close by at a state park down the road. While it was in a beautiful setting, it seemed that all of it's amenities were out of order - no showers, no dump station. And they still charge you full price! We have learned that camping is never cheap in California, and very rarely is it free. We've been paying on average about $30 a night to camp. That's getting old quick! At our campground, a really friendly older couple across from us got chatty and wanted to show us their camper. It's one of those ones you put on the bed of your truck and it sits on top of your truck at all times. We stepped inside and.... well.... let's just say we're REALLY happy we have Donna. For being close to 40 years older than that truck camper, Donna looks incredible next to this thing. We had originally thought we wanted one of those campers that sit on your truck, but we're thankful we didn't go that route. We let them see inside ours and their eyes popped, probably because from the outside you expect Donna's interior to look like crap. They seemed to realize what bad shape their camper was in, but they were happy anyway just to be camping and out in the wilderness, and we were happy for them. But even happier to go back to Donna. 

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