adventures in nature

sky camp above the clouds

Impossible to go out in the Bay Area and find a camp spot without a reservation on a holiday weekend, you say?

Humph!! (I say)

We decided to head to Big Sur for an impromptu wander on Sunday, and as the darkness and fog closed in on us, we passed campsite after campsite with signs posted “Camp Full.” We were undeterred. After a bit of searching, we stumbled upon a road that lead us into the mountains above the ocean cliffs. As we climbed up the dirt road, the fog grew so dense that at times it was difficult to see more than 10 feet in front of the vehicle.

Up and up we went, snaking up the bending road this way and that, not knowing where we were headed. But something beckoned us on through the cold fog.

Suddenly, the mist parted and we were treated to the just-past-full moon shining out at us through the bit of tree canopy above us! Still, we climbed, but with a little more hope in our hearts that we would find a good place to sleep.

As if in a dream before we had even laid our heads down, we found ourselves a spot above the clouds, showered in moonlight. It was as if we were the only ones left in the world.

sky camp in moonlight above fog over ocean / Big Sur CA

sky camp in moonlight above fog over ocean / Big Sur CA

The stars twinkled at our feet above the layer of fog that was blanketing the ocean which lay thousands of feet below us, as the moon climbed higher in the sky behind our heads. A great-horned owl hooted to us in the distance, as we struggled to close our eyes to the beauty all around us so we could get some rest. In contrast to the cold damp foggy air below us on the coast, it was warm and still where we laid, with almost no need for covers. And certainly no need for a tent, which would only serve to obscure the view. It was so bright I could have read a book by the moonlight.

In the morning I awoke several times before dawn in a half-sleep state, seeing the brightly shining planet Jupiter leading the sun up in the orange sky to the East. The moon still claimed the heavens though, sitting to the West in the purple light above the layer of fog over the Pacific Ocean.

When I came to full consciousness at sunrise, the spectacle before us just became more surreal.

sky camp above the clouds 01 / Los Padres Nat Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 01 / Los Padres Nat Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 02 / Los Padres Nat Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 02 / Los Padres Nat Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 03 / Los Padres National Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 03 / Los Padres National Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 04 / Los Padres National Forest CA

sky camp above the clouds 04 / Los Padres National Forest CA

We wandered around a bit before we left the area, going out west to the farthest point on one of the “fingers” of the mountain that stretched out towards the sea. The views were tremendous, both near and far. This one square foot of fine dust on the trail held so many tracks it was mind boggling, including those of rodents, insects, birds and a gray fox.

tracks of sky camp / Los Padres National Forest CA

tracks of sky camp / Los Padres National Forest CA

As we headed back down the dirt road out of our dream world and into the fog below us, something on the side of the road caught my eye. It was the tracks from our old friend, Mrs. Puma. She had passed on the road the night before, just as we had! Sort of silly that I had just traveled all the way to Colorado and Wyoming to study them when they are all over the place here, her tracks seemed to say.

puma tracks 01 / Los Padres National Forest CA

puma tracks 01 / Los Padres National Forest CA

puma tracks 02 / Los Padres National Forest CA

puma tracks 02 / Los Padres National Forest CA

sky camp exit / Los Padres National Forest CA

sky camp exit / Los Padres National Forest CA

One response

  1. Joan Dautrich

    These pics are spectacular!

    Sent from my iPad

    September 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

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