Backpacking in Big Sur – Cone Peak

Almost at the top of Cone Peak

This past weekend I went back to Big Sur, this time with Brandon, Mihai, Lea, Eric and Jesse. We hiked the Vicente Flat Trail up to Cone Peak (the highest coastal mountain in the US) and then camped at Goat Camp and hiked back out through the Stone Ridge Trail. The first day was amazing, tough, and frustrating. We drove to the trailhead overnight and camped right beside it. Then we got up early the next day and started hiking at 830am. It was about 5 miles to Vicente Flat camp and then another 7 up to Cone Peak. We climbed 5000ft in total and made it to the top for a beautiful sunset view at 530pm. It was the most beautilful hike I’ve ever done. The first 5 miles were coastal so you could see for miles up the pacific coast and for miles until the horizon took the sea away. Then we were just walking through forest and Big Sur vegetation which changed a lot as we got higher and higher up. The top of the mtn was close to the water so it was really beautiful. I really couldn’t remember anything cooler.

Brandon and Mihai filtering agua

The summit was hard, but doable. However the next 4 miles were rough. The sun set quickly and we left to hike with only our headlamps. It was a relatively new moon, so the stars were beautiful but we had to rely on our headlamps. I think the hardest part was not really knowing how far away the camp was. We had an idea and knew the length but just being in the dark, not being able to see anything, and being really tired and hungry gave us all some extra anxiety. We finally hit Goat Camp around 9pm, threw our packs down, cooked dinner, and got ready to pass out. We didn’t bring tents and slept under the stars so it was awesome.

The next day we got up and could see the water right from camp. It really was a great campsite. We packed up and left around 9am and spent the whole day hiking 11 or so miles back to our cars. The second day was not as strenuous, but all our feet hurt more so it was kind of a trade off I guess. The sun was warm, but we were in and out of the trees so the weather was really perfect. After we all got to the trailhead I think we spend an hour just laying down and recovering. That night we drove through San Luis Obispo and had clam chowder in a bread bowl and tons of fries. We took turns driving legs and finally got home around 1030pm. I can’t really believe I’m doing all these things in a weekend without having to take time off work or a long weekend. California is so close to everything that vacations can really be a weekend thing. I’m spoiled.

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