Six weeks ago, a massive deluge washed away part of California’s Hwy 1 along the coast while we were staying at the southern end of Big Sur. With the northward route closed, we took a massive detour east to see Sequoia, King’s Canyon, and Yosemite national parks before heading back north of the break along the coast near Carmel.
Once we were back, we drove the northern part of the costal highway and marveled again at the intimidating, hypnotic power of the Pacific below our cliffside perches. Words cannot express the awesome beauty of this place.
Up on the hills, out of reach from the raging seas, early wildflowers look west and herald the arrival of spring.
Our camp was tucked in the nearby redwood forest at Fernwood Resort, where we were lulled to sleep each night by the babbling Big Sur River. The next day we drove to see the purple flowers and purple sands(!) at Pfeiffer Beach where the surf continued its endless rage against the rocks.
Up in the clouds between Santa Clara Valley and Monterrey Bay, the high redwood forest of Mt. Madonna is another place we stayed for several days. There we hiked mysterious, mist-shrouded trails where most surfaces were covered in ferns, fungi and moss, moss, moss. There was also a fair bit of poison oak near the trails, but the abundance of green anything was still a welcome sight after having spent so much time in the desert over winter.
The forests here are home to so many creatures. But the most ubiquitous small mammal is the California ground squirrel. These spunky hooligans look like tree squirrels but their fluffy tails are shorter and they live in burrows underground. After many months of watching their mischievous antics, I finally got one to pose for the camera near McWay Falls. What a cutie!
Some of the more unusual critters we’ve seen on the road were on Mt. Madonna.
The California newt calls its forest floor home. On the misty-moisty day we were out, they were also hiking the trail where we encountered one ever few feet or so. There were so many they risked being stepped on skewered by a hiking pole, so we were extra careful.
The video below shows how well they’re camouflaged.
In the same area we also saw banana slugs. They’re weird and HUGE! Glenn spied this big beauty sliming its way across the trail in front of us. He was about six and a half inches long. Like the newts, they too were crossing the trail.
Why did the banana slug cross the road? We will never know.