Earlier this year, in advance of traveling to California, I had planned to drive a bit of the Pacific Coast Highway again like I did last year. But this spring a mudslide took out significant portions of the scenic roadway near Big Sur, south of the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge. Not clear when it will be reopened, but the tenuous nature of the roadway underscores that it might not last forever, let alone my lifetime. When it reopens, I hope to drive that stretch at least one more time. Big Sur in particular is a remarkable place, akin somewhat to Glacier National Park that I trained through six years ago:

By now, Big Sur’s severing from the outside world has unnerved even locals who are used to recurring plunges into isolation.

“It’s not a unique situation for us to be shut off,” said Kirk Gafill, the owner of Nepenthe, a cliffside restaurant that’s operated in Big Sur for nearly 70 years.

He recalled past mudslides on Highway 1 that had closed the Central Coast hideaway between Carmel and San Simeon for 10 weeks.

“But this one is so different because now we’re in week 20,” he said late last week. “The timeline is just epic.” …

In the meantime, with summer upon us, the few visitors have been seeing a rare crowd-free version of Big Sur.

Anthony Albert, from Oakland, lugged his bike along a half-mile hiking trail that circumvents the downed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and cycled all the way to Paul’s Slide and back.

In roughly eight hours of riding, he said, he encountered maybe 10 people.

“It was surreal,” said Mr. Albert, 27. “It felt like I was in the afterlife, like reliving a past experience with nobody around.”

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