Nacimiento-Ferguson Road etc.

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Jobst Brandt, Apr 3, 2003.

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  1. Jobst Brandt

    Jobst Brandt Guest

    This repeat posting is here so that the URL's of wildflowers are conveniently accessible to those
    who care to see them. Using make this more convenient:

    Saturday 29 Mar 03

    After a good night's sleep in Carmel Valley, we drove from Carmel, drove down the coast over the
    route we rode the next day making this a somewhat deja vu experience. Therefore, the second day,
    which in a way precedes the first is described first here for continuity.

    We headed south from Carmel under brilliantly clear skies with light breezes along a section of
    California coast that is famous for its striking landscape where steep rocky mountains fall off into
    the water, largely as jagged rock cliffs, rather than onto sandy beaches. Among the well known
    sights are Rocky and Bixbe Creek concrete arch bridges, built in 1932.

    The road drops to coastal meadows at Point Sur, where a large flat topped rocky knob rises from
    alluvial flatlands on the end of a tidal peninsula just north of the Big Sur river delta. A
    lighthouse and coast guard station sit atop this 500ft tall rock in an impressive manner, slightly
    reminiscent of Mont St. Michel.

    >From here the road heads inland along the Big Sur river and enters a
    redwood forest and Pfeiffer State park. The river comes out of the steep ravines typical of these
    mountains that are even difficult on hiking trails. Highway one continues south where the Big Sur
    canyon emerges from its canyon to the east, heading up Post Creek and over a ridge back to the
    coast. We stopped at Lucia for some food and drink and continued south a few miles to turn inland on
    Nacimiento-Ferguson Road at Mill Creek.

    This road, formerly a dirt road, is well paved today. It climbs steeply at first and soon opens a
    splendid vista to the rugged coast below. At this time of year one might confuse the locale with
    somewhere else because the fields are a lush green with California Poppies and Lupine adding the
    state colors of blue and gold to the steep meadows. At the 2664ft summit the road crosses the
    north-south Ridge Trail before heading down Nacimiento Canyon in a dense oak forest.

    The road finally catches up with the cascading Nacimiento river as it ambles down its broadening
    valley into Fort Hunter Liggett military post named after Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett
    Liggett(1857-1937). We passed a guard post where we had to show identification after which we got a
    "good conduct" pass in the event that we might be questioned where we entered when leaving the post.

    The meadows had dense clusters of golden poppies and lupine that demanded a posed photo stop. Tank
    trails crossed the road at various places in stark contrast to the natural beauty of the rolling
    hills. We stopped at the Julia Morgan designed "Officers club" for a sandwich and drink before
    heading north to the San Antonio de Padua Mission, with architecture typical of California missions.

    We headed north from the mission on a dirt road that brought us back to Venturi Road along Arroyo
    Seco, that ends at Santa Lucia camp ground. From here, Indian Road, an unpaved road that has been
    closed for about ten years, starts with a well kept concrete ford across the richly flowing Arroyo
    Seco (that wasn't dry) before climbing about 1000ft to the top of a ridge at about 3000ft. At some
    spots rockfall had made the road impassable for anything wider than a single track vehicle and even
    at that, we had to carry our bicycles over some of these sections. Various wildflowers and cacti
    decorated the landscape between chaparral.

    All this terrain is extremely rugged and the road unused except by "extremists" on bicycles. Finally
    we came to the main obstacle of the route, a land slide that lay at maximum slope with its tail
    about 1500ft at the roaring Arroyo Secco below. The remote section above Arroyo Secco was
    spectacular and ridable except for a few 30 yard places of scattered rockfall... and of course the
    rock slide that had to be portaged carefully, it being at the angle of repose. A slip could give a
    1500 foot trip to the river that was not dry as the name implies.

    We saw a light M/C track going north and returning from the "impassable" rock slide and a similar
    track of an MTB that turned around at the north end of the slide. After carrying our bicycle over
    the 20yds of slide we continued on the road as it clung to the nearly vertical slopes of the canyon.
    The slow going over the 18 miles of rough terrain got us back down to Arroyo Secco and pavement a
    bit late. As we turned west on Carmel Valley Road it was already dark enough for a great horned owl:

    to fly next to us in the dusk and land a couple of times on the phone line next to the road.
    Meanwhile a bat flew under my arm brushing my chest and arm as I rode along.

    This road, also known as Jamesburg Arroyo Seco road, climbs for ten miles getting steeper at the top
    at 1674ft before descending 18 miles to Carmel Valley, our destination. We ran out of daylight and
    with no moon at all at the summit, only John could continue carefully with his good night vision. As
    Jeanie and I walked our bicycles in the dark we admired a starlight sky as we are unfamiliar in
    cities where we normally experience the night.

    We had sufficient food and water to keep rolling but we relied on John to find a ride. When he
    got to Carmel Valley he stumbled onto a generous Monterey Taxi whose driver was getting off duty
    and going home. After being driven the last 13 miles to town, we stopped at the local store and
    bought microwave burritos, salad and deserts and some breakfast. We were all well fed, showered,
    and in bed before midnight at our motel of the previous day. 8810 feet climbing 113miles (100 for
    me and Jeanie).

    Mill Creek climb from the coast:
    Nacimiento Road to Hunter-Liggett: North from Mission San Antonio
    up into San Antonio Valley: San
    Antonio Valley to Indian Ranger Station on Arroyo Seco: Out of Arroyo Seco Canyon above
    Indian Ranger Station on Indian Road: Over the top of Indian Road: Down to The Lakes camp ground on
    Arroyo Seco Carmel Valley Road
    aka Jamesburg Road: Carmel
    Valley Road aka Jamesburg Road overview: Carmel Valley on Tularcitos Creek:

    Carmel Valley - Ferguson-Nacimiento Rd. 55 miles, 3270 feet Ferguson-Nacimiento Rd. - Carmel Valley
    113 miles, 8810 feet

    Jobst Brandt [email protected] Palo Alto CA

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