Sykes Hot Springs
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Sykes Hot Springs is an out and back hike that covers 23.8 miles within the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Although we planned for a 3 day backpacking trip, it actually turned into a one day car camping trip and one day in heaven trip. Unfortunately we never made it to the Hot Springs due to flip flops but I will be back for sure.

Drive to Big Sur from SF
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From the East Bay, we took 680W to 101S, hopped on 156W then onto 1S.

This drive coincidentally happened the same morning as the great earthquake and tsunami of Japan (2011) and all the beaches were all closed. We stopped a few times to see the surf...the sheer magnitude of the ocean was truly breathtaking. 

After a quick little drive, we arrived at the park at around  2pm and ready for a few hour hike to the Hot Springs.

Leaving the Cars
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After registering our cars for the weekend in the parks parking lot, we notice we are not the only ones. There are in fact lots of people either already on the trail, or arriving at the same time we do. 

After a round of 151 we gather up the gear and hit the trail.

After some elevation change to start the blood flowing, we make it to a really great valley overlooking where we just came in from. This is where this story takes a turn for the worst.

Fast forward two hours and Ben is now starting to feel rubbing on his heel from some ill fitting boots. Not good. After an application of mole skin we continue only for 20 minutes more.

Start Hiking
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After our ritualistic shots of 151 we begin our quest into the unknown. Hot springs awaited our arrival and we were ready for it.

First some hiking.

Bad Turns to Worse
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After an hours hike in Ben's heels are shredded beef. The heel cup has tore up his heels to the point of bleeding and he can't take another step.

Coming from a guy that LIVES in his flip flops, this is extremely painful for him. He decides to run downhil and back to the cars to pick up some running shoes instead. Charlie and I sit and wait it out.

Nearly an hour later Ben comes huffing up the hill, in flip flops. So there it is. a 30 mile trek in flip flops. Not a good start. At this point it becomes dusk and we are no where close to our first checkpoint and trialhead so we collectively decide to walk back to the cars and take in some car camping at the Ventana Campgrounds. Was a great night :)

Car Camping in Ventana Campgrounds
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We had a man down and what did we do? We made the best of it. We found a vacancy for a campground, bought some steaks and had a great time.

Day 2 Starts
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Day 2 starts like any other day kind of in the woods after a pint of 101. Rough.

We are off to an early start though and want to make it to the hot springs by 2pm. Lets get a move on!

Pine Ridge Trail
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Now we are moving...Hit the Pine Ridge Trail and am circumventing the valley. A quick and steep elevation change will present some seasonal waterfalls too.

Into the Woods
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Into the Woods we go.

At 2.3 miles from the trailhead we come across a sign noting we are in the Ventana Wilderness. Leaving the summit we start the decline into the woods.

We know it can't be much further from here now that we are surrounded by ferns, boulders and springs. A great chance for a quick break.

Terrace Creek Camp
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After 5.3 miles from the trailhead we arrive at Terrace Creek Camp. Because we are a day late all of the sites are taken but thats okay, we weren't staying.

We were now at a cross roads if you will. Continue on to Sykes Hot Springs with two guys in flip flops, blisters and will less than 24 hours to hike, enjoy and hike back. We collectively decided that we would instead find a closer place to camp and call it a trip forcing us back another time.

This did not seem like a hard decision as we found a sign pointing up stream towards a camp site called Abandoned Camp that was less than two miles ahead. This was the fateful choice that forever changed our trip.

After hiking an hour up hill and what seemed 100 switchbacks we never came across a site. It then hit us. The site was not called Abandoned Camp....it WAS an abandoned camp. No campsite at all. 

We continued onwards and upwards during the later hours of the afternoon. Soon the sun would be behind the mountains and the valley we were in would turn to black in minutes. We decided to keep going through the night if we had to. We didn't.

An hour later we came across a service road at a point when we thought we were in the middle of no where. We jumped on the road and to our surprise we found a scene right out of an explorers first view of an ocean. It was wonderful

Something Special
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Now out of the woods we find ourselves on cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Fully knowing we could not backtrack before nightfall to a designated spot we decide to stay and enjoy the view. 

We find a place were we could pitch a few tents away from the access road and away from a house or two a few miles away.

Time for some well deserved rest and self reflection.

Getting Out
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Okay, so we are off the grid and off the map. How do we a) find out where we are b) find our way home?  

Answer: Start walking. And thats what we did.