Big Sur, Calfornia. Few sensory pleasures compare to dipping into a cool mountain river on a scorching hot summer day. During my past four years in California, this has been my ultimate indulgence. To get away from the hustle and bustle of life for a day, bake in California’s warm interior on a scenic hike or bike ride, and then spend the rest of the day drifting in pure bliss within crystal clear mountain waters – is a pleasure hard to put words to. A favorite spot in the past has been the Russian River of Sonoma Valley, but the Big Sur River in July does the job just fine. Recently, my buddy “Rabbit” Schaffer and I made our way to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and did a few hours of hiking on the dramatic – but terribly exposed – Mount Manuel trail. After a few hours baking in the Big Sur July heat along windless canyons of the Ventana Wilderness, we made our way back to the Park, scrambled down into the Big Sur River gorge and rock-hopped upstream until we found a swimming hole to our liking. Crystal clear, these waters are important for steelhead and were all too recently a favorite haunt for California’s now extinct grizzly bear population. For us, it was summertime at its best. A swim beneath waterfalls, followed by sipping a few rounds of Argentine mate upon massive boulders, and then more swimming. Before long, all of the biting flies, snakes, poison oak and scorching sun of the Ventana backcountry had been washed from our souls. Heaven must be a little like this.
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