When: August 2016
Where: Orlando --> Los Angeles-->Salinas-->Bear Valley
Equipment: Tent, camping gear
Budget: $1,800 (airfare, car rental, gas, food)
Growing up in Florida you have endless access to beaches, warm weather for most of the year, and warm water. When you’re surrounded by palm trees, it’s hard to realize how different it is on the opposite coast. You’ve heard about redwoods, seen mountains in pictures, but it can still seem as foreign as another county. At this point we had traveled only to warm countries and nearby states. This was our first cold weather trip, and we quickly realized how unprepared we were.
Our trip started in Los Angeles, but like many of our trips we quickly made our way out of the city and hit the Pacific Highway. To say this trip was unplanned might be an understatement. We knew we wanted to experience the views on the Pacific Highway and we knew we had an airbnb booked in Salinas. Why Salinas? We don’t know, but it cut down the drive and the place looked interesting. During the drive we saw a coastline that curved in and out and lived the car commercial experience.
Our first stop was in Salinas. After six hours of driving we spent our last night sleeping on a bed and enjoyed our last full meal before living out of a tent for the remainder of the trip. We ate sushi, enjoyed a night out, and prepared for the day ahead.
The next day we decided we wanted to camp in Bear Valley. If this seems random, it was. We looked at a map, saw Bear Valley was only four hours away, and decided that was where we would stay. Spontaneity and lack of preparedness quickly became the theme of our trip. Did we want to camp? Yes. Did we want to experience colder weather? Of course. Did we bring anything to experience that? No. But that’s why you have Walmart. On our way to Bear Valley we stopped at a Walmart and bought the basic camping essentials: tent, food, sleeping bag, blankets, camping tools, utensils, etc. Then we continued our trek to our camping destination.
The drive to Bear Valley spiraled mountains and the view quickly changed from farmland and vineyards to endless trees. When we first began ascending, we were immediately struck by the size of the trees. We came across large fallen trees and pulled off the road to look at them. Little did we know how small these would be in comparison the redwood and sequoias we would see. When we finally arrived, we set up our campsite and realized we had a few hours of daylight left to fit a hike in. So being the inexperienced but anxious hikers that we were, we packed all of the necessary survival equipment into one bag...a camera, a few Corona Lights, and a towel. The weather at the onset of our hike was a warm 75 degrees, and we were in shorts and tank tops. However, within a few hours the temperature was making its way to the 30s, the sun was getting lower, and we started to realize we were lost. Being so small, in the midst of giant trees, it’s really easy to lose your bearing. We did not have any cell service, but with the compass on the phone, and nearby a river for a point of reference, we found our way back to our campsite by last light. From that moment on we realized the importance of researching, preparing, and having the proper equipment.
The next few days we spent our time hiking, came across a baby deer, visited national parks, but most importantly this is what sparked our need to explore and chase the next adventure. We made a promise to ourselves that with every trip we would get better gear, push ourselves farther, and become more knowledgeable.
On the last day we packed up, but we knew it was only the beginning. Ironically, the spontaneity and lack of preparedness throughout the trip is what gave us a crash course on the reality of nature. On trips ahead, yes, we will get lost. That is part of it, but each trip we will get better, and go farther.