Big Sur - January 2017

[Originally posted 02/14/2017]

Reed had spent the better part of December and January working his way into a roof top tent sleeping situation on his 4Runner. After MUCH debate on sizing, types, and brands, he landed on the AutoHome Maggiolina Extreme. To mount he used a modified Front Runner full length roof rack. We also built Reed a full second row replacement platform for his 4Runner that allows for storage space underneath and a solid platform for his three large dogs to roam around on when traveling. But more on the platform later…

To celebrate his new purchases and installs, we decided a short one nighter would be a good way to give the tent a good shakedown before he goes out on a longer trip with his girlfriend and  dogs. With a good portion of overnight destinations in California covered in snow, or flooded, we chose to head down to Big Sur for a night under the stars, 3,300 feet above the ocean.

Driver/Rig:

RedStripeRanger [Reed] - Toyota 4Runner Trail

MTN4RNR [Max] - Toyota 4Runner Trail

With Highway 1 being closed at Lucia, we had to enter the Big Sur area through Fort Hunter Liggett in Central California. As we drove south through the Salinas Valley, we saw traces of snow that had fallen on the Santa Lucia Mountains the Monday before, 18” on Cone Peak.

Traveling through Ft. Hunter Liggett is an interesting place, because the road is public, but anywhere off of that road is military controlled, and obviously not allowed. The constant view of signs and gates makes sure that you are well reminded as you pass through. Too bad, as there are some great looking roads and trails that I will never get to explore.

One thing I noticed this year versus my trip last year was that there was actually water in the mountains of Central California. To Californians, this is a big thing. And to Californians in this area, it’s an even bigger thing having dealt with a summer of massively destructive fires. From the last month of heavy rains, there was a lot of water flowing down creeks, in ravines, and being held in seasonal ponds. It was a happy sight to see as the last time I was there it was dusty and dry. The creeks show the tale of the massive runoff from weeks of heavy rains by way of large logs being wedged and stacked against trees and rocks from the high flows. Amazing.

We reached our turnoff and aired down for a more comfortable ride on the dirt road. And around the first corner, we ran into a problem, and it had to do with Reed’s new investment.

Normally I travel with a chainsaw for times like these, but for this short overnighter I elected to leave it behind because our destination is well traveled and I assumed that any debris would have been cleared. And I guess, for any normal vehicle, it is clear. But for the overlander, height restrictions can be a bear. We took out the hatchet that Reed brought to knock off some of a knot that was the lowest point of contact. With the knot removed and Reed on the back bumper, we cleared the tree…. Just…. A short while later, another tree. But this one we cleared by picking a good line.

Lesson learned. Bring. The. Chainsaw.

We made it to camp, and got our pick of the litter as it was a quiet weekend on the ridge. We setup camp, Reed with his new tent and I with my new Skottle, headed out to the bluff, met some good people and dogs, watched the sunset, ate some bomb fajitas, drank beer, took some night photos, and eventually went to bed where Reed’s tent performed great in the constant 15mph offshore wind.

Morning broke on camp. We started with coffee and breakfast.

We had heard a bunch of noise coming from “the pond” campsite on the ridge the day before and elected to not venture down as it’s usually host to larger groups. In the morning the group emerged from the trees, and I recognized some familiar rigs. Turns out it was an Overland Bound group down below. Small world! We went down to check out the rig line up of Toyotas, Jeeps and a well kitted Subaru.

As they were leaving, we decided to tag along to head back to the Bay Area. When we reached the tree block, the other 5th Gen made it under the tree with the addition of 6 guys on the sliders and bumpers, we ended up doing the same for Reed’s rig. But at the same time I didn’t have any height problems. #noliftnoproblems

We then hit the highway and headed home. It was a great one night trip to test out some new gear. It was also fun running into familiar people on the trail and making new contacts. While it may not be a huge adventure, it’s the short overnighters that keep me going.

More to come…

Max Sheehan2 Comments