Big Sur / by Turner Fitch


We parked on the shoulder at a blind S curve in the highway. We waited for the whir of distant  cars to fade before bolting across the two lanes toward an unmarked trailhead. We descended down the side of the coastal San Lucia mountains with afternoon sun pouring through the redwoods and an ocean mist, creating heavenly shafts of light. We crossed through a tunnel on the trail and as our eyes adjusted the vast and rugged Big Sur coast came into focus.


It’s hard to write anything about the 90-mile stretch of California Coast that hasn’t already been written. The region has been the catalyst of authors and artists for decades, so we'll let Kerouac do the talking for a moment. "Big elbows of Rock rising everywhere, sea caves within them, seas plollocking all around inside them crashing out foams, the boom and pound on the sand, the sand dipping quick (no Malibu Beach here) ----- Yet you turn and see the pleasant woods winding upcreek like a picture in Vermont ----- But you look up into the sky, bend way back, my God you’re standing directly under that aerial bridge with its thing white line running from rock to rock and witless cars racing across it like dreams! From rock to rock! All the way down the raging coast!" Big Sur, 1962


The surf on this coast is predictably unpredictable, charging and changing by the minute in reaction to  the San Lucia’s launching straight out of her depths. Great Whites loom off the coast, darting, waiting, while cetaceans migrate swiftly past the coastline, while otters eat mussels and bob up and down on the waves. Soaring high above, searching for their next meal, are the endangered California Condor, saved from the brink of extinction. The redwoods- “ambassadors from another time” as Steinbeck puts it -  watch over each generation of humans as they gawk in awe at the big beauty which gives this coast its international reputation.