Trip Report: The Waves & Mountains of Big Sur, California

Miles Clark | | Trip ReportTrip Report
Big Sur
Tropical… image: snowbrains

Report from July 2020

We went down to Big Sur, California last week with dreams of big waves, epic camping, and new experiences.

The drive down legendary Highway 1 was gorgeous.

Far enough south, there is no flat land.

Big Sur
Foggy Big Sur sunset. image: snowbrains

2,000-foot mountain faces dump directly into calm seas below.

Fog fluttered up and down the towering mountain masses.

Sunshine turned the coastal waters an azure blue.

Dwanis FTW! image: snowbrains
Aprés ski, I mean, surf…. image: snowbrains

The waves were small, mellow, and mushy the first day and we had a blast on them.

We surfed, went to an amazing clifftop restaurant up the road for lunch, then surfed again.

The 2nd surf was a touch bigger and a bit more fun.

Big Sur
Surf beach. image: snowbrains

We then voyaged up the mountain via a rugged dirt road.

The road was wild in spots with ankle-deep dust, ruts, and tight narrows.

We ended up on a ridgetop with 360º views and an ocean vista to kill for…

We camped atop a small hilltop with views of the entire ocean to the west and seemingly endless mountains to the east.

We were elated.

We ate, drank, & bantered.

We couldn’t believe our luck.

Big Sur
Stairway to heaven. image: snowbrains

The sunset over the ebbing and flowing of the fogged-in ocean was like nothing we’d ever seen.

Night fell and exposed one of the strongest shows of the Milky Way we could remember.

Jupiter, Saturn, the crescent moon, and comet NEOWISE put on a show.

Relaxed lunch.

The meteor shower didn’t hurt either.

I saw 8 shooting stars myself…

The darkness of this remote location allowed us to see just how long the tail of NEOWISE really was.

Big Sur
Surf beach. image: snowbrains

The tail stretched nearly all the way up to the Big Dipper.

Dawn brought pancakes, warm sun, and dry wetsuits.

Down the rugged road to the beach for a surf in much larger waves.

Baller breaky a la chef Dwanis. image: snowbrains

6-foot-faces of mostly-mushy waves mixed in with the occasional steep, race-y breakers made for my best surf of the summer thus far.

We saw 2 California Condors – the largest & most rare land bird in North America (10′ wingspan & only 488 exist)– on Highway 1 from only about 20-feet away (my first time seeing a California Condor and they were huge).

Tired, sunburned, satisfied, and inspired, we headed home.

We cannot wait to get back down there and learn more.

Much more lurks in Big Sur than I ever imagined…


Swanis and the fog-slathered ocean. image: snowbrains
Foggy sunset. image: snowbrains
Big Sur
Foggy sunset. image: snowbrains
Foot Foggy sunset. image: snowbrains
Foggy sunset. image: snowbrains
Big Sur
Foggy sunset. image: snowbrains
Big Sur
Nice spot… image: snowbrains
Beach nap. image: snowbrains
Da boyz. image: snowbrains
Big green mountains. image: snowbrains
Smoothie time. image: snowbrains
The one casualty of the trip. image: snowbrains
Big Sur
Dawn, boards, tent. image: snowbrains
Dwanis FTW! image: snowbrains

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One thought on “Trip Report: The Waves & Mountains of Big Sur, California

  1. This article caused quite a discussion among Big Sur locals because it was clear in the article where the camping and recreation was happening. With so many tourists’ disregard for private property and the the fragility of the environment there, it’s understandable that people were immediately suspicious…however, since one of the locals lives above the campground and was able to confirm that all trash was packed out, illegal campfires did not happen and the recreation was on a state beach, there was agreement that these were responsible visitors and we wish more were the same….so, the only update to this article would be to add the caveats to camp legally, observe campfire regulations and pack out whatever you’ve packed in……

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