Monday, December 16, 2013

Cone Peak in the Bag

Cone peak is a prominent high point in the beautiful Big Sur of the central californian coast.  You can see it from highway 1 which is pretty cool since it is over 5100 ft tall, the entirety of which may be contemplated when checking it out standing on the waters edge.  You can put together a really nice climb to get there by basically following one of the ridges up to Twin Peaks and then scrambling the saddle over to Cone.  The ridge is mostly an open prairie with coastal views forever.  It is probably technically considered a mostly off-trail type excursion (at least the way we took), with some occasional bush fighting involved, but there are enough "use trails" that for all intents and purposes there is a trail to follow if you want to take this route.  Being the middle of December you would think it might be pretty chilly, but we ended up doing this hike on pretty much the warmest day that we have had in a while.  There was no wind and it was clear views.  Basically the perfect day for this hike.  It was so quiet up on those ridges that it was almost surreal.  Living in the city, you just get used to all of the noise.  Even when I go on my trail runs deep into the santa cruz mountains, there is plenty of noise, if not from the various roads, then mostly the noises of the forest... the trees rustling, stream flowing, etc, which is really nice.  But, there was something that just didn't add up when we were up on the ridges.  We were totally exposed, with a highway down at the bottom and the ocean clearly visible, and you could stop hiking, calm your breath, and not hear a single thing, absolute silence.  I was totally digging it.  So here was our hike in pictures:

Limkiln State Beach, the start and end of our journey.

Highway 1 as we ascend.

Our Destination: Cone Peak

The dangerous Yucca plant.  Avoid at all costs.  This thing has foliage that is designed to puncture the epidermis of various creatures, including humans...

The "Ridge"

On our way

A "Toshi Pose"  at the top of Twin Peaks

It was easily 70 degrees this day, or at least it seemed like it.   I did not think we would encounter snow!

Toshi generally takes the path less traveled.  We did a little experiment:  I would take the trail to the top and he would take the most "direct" route.  He won.  My kids would have picked Toshi's route too, there must be something to it...

Cool observation tower at the top.

Incredible day.

View of Twin Peaks from Cone.

We thought we could contour our way over to the "Ridge" but failed miserably when we ran into shrubbery that would just not give up.

Oh yeah!

They built a really neat tunnel to protect the road from falling rocks.

And Toshi touches the water to make the "Ocean to Cone and Back" official.

A video compilation: