Magnificent and unspoiled Pfeiffer Beach has a little bit of everything: an expansive sandy beach, rugged bluffs, huge rock formations with “windows”, tide pooling in low tide, and my favorite aspect, unique purple patches of sand! Since the beach has a western aspect, the location makes for glorious sunsets, especially as a setting sun peeks through the “windows” in the dramatic rock formations. I could stay here for hours exploring the various parts of this beach and watching the waves crash into the rocks and through the arches. The purple sand is indeed purple to magenta and striking on a sunny day when contrasted with the blue ocean waters and surrounding rocks. The distinctive purple coloration is due to manganese garnet particles found in surrounding rocks, and it is most apparent toward the north end of the beach. Complete photo album here and more details below. Bring your camera!
Pfeiffer Beach is managed by the Forest Service and includes a fairly large parking area, but it often fills to capacity on warm summer afternoons in the weekend with no additional parking. The access road is virtually impossible to find unless you know where you’re going. The turnoff is inconspicuous, but it’s 1/4 mile to the north of the Big Sur Post Office and Bakery. The 2 mile one-lane road down Sycamore Canyon is windy and requires caution (15 mph speed limit), but the beach is well worth the efforts. The beach is fairly exposed along the coast so it can be windy and chilly so come prepared. This is also not a place to take a swim as there are severe currents, high and unpredictable surf, and cold Pacific Ocean water. I will definitely be returning to Pfeiffer Beach for further exploration and sunset viewing! Complete photo album here.
2011 was another great year for adventure running with lots of trips to the High Sierra and a couple in the North Cascades of Washington State. It was great to venture into some of the most remote regions in both ranges and see terrain I have never seen. I’m already looking forward to adventures in 2012 but here are some photos and links to full reports from the adventures of this past year. See 2010 recap here.
- Cone Peak “Sea to Sky” - January 29th: Second annual trip from the Big Sur Coast up to 5,155 ft Cone Peak with spectacular views and a redwood canyon. I’ve dreamed of doing this run when there is fresh snow atop Cone Peak so we’ll see if I can get lucky with timing this year.
- Winter Alta Peak – January 31st: Amazing views of the Great Western Divide on this snowshoe trip out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park.
- Bear Creek Spire & Mount Dade – July 3rd: My second visit to this lovely basin with picturesque alpine lakes and rugged alpine beauty.
- Mount Sill – July 4th: My second time up 14,159 ft Mount Sill, known as the best viewpoint in the High Sierra. The route features a crossing of the Palisade Glacier, largest body of ice remaining in the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Sill, North Palisade and Thunderbolt Peak.
- Mount Lyell & Mount Maclure – July 9th: Improved my time by 65 minutes to 8:50 roundtrip for the climb of these two peaks that are the roof of Yosemite!
- The Whaleback & Big Wet Meadows – July 23rd: A 50 mile adventure run up Cloud Canyon and Big Wet Meadows to climb Whaleback, one of the most remote spots in the High Sierra. Incredible!
- Primus, Austera & Eldorado – July 30th: Colin Abercrombie and I toured the Eldroado Ice Cap climbing Primus Peak, Austera Peak and Eldorado along the way. We started at 2 am and finished at 5:40 pm for a 15:40 day. It has been since 2005 that we explored the ice cap towards Austera so it was nice to return to this scenically stellar region and explore a new area beyond Austera to the North Klawatti Glacier and Primus Peak.
- West McMillan Spire – August 1st: Awesome climb of this impressive summit in the Southern Pickets in a new FKT of 8:14 roundtrip.
- Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop – August 6th: An “instant classic” adventure run of a 50+ mile loop in the remote Northern Yosemite region beginning at Twin Lakes, and including five passes, the Benson Lake riviera and a summit of Volunteer Peak. I’ll definitely be returning to do this one again!
- Milestone & Midway – September 3rd: An adventure run to climb Milestone Mountain (13,641 ft) and Midway Mountain (13,666 ft) along the Great Western Divide, two of the most remote points in the High Sierra. Milestone Creek and Basin are exceptionally scenic with lovely alpine lakes and tarns, polished granite, and the towering peaks of the Great Western Divide.
- TRT-Flume Trail 27 Mile Loop – September 10th: Great 27+ mile loop in the northeast part of Lake Tahoe with nice trails and awesome views.
- Eagle Scout Peak & Kaweah Gap – September 25th: An adventure run to Eagle Scout Peak via Kaweah Gap in 9:38 roundtrip from Crescent Meadows. Eagle Scout Peak is located just south of Kaweah Gap along the Great Western Divide in a remote region of Sequoia National Park. The climb of the 12,000 ft peak entails over 45 miles roundtrip and 8,000+ ft of elevation gain. While it’s a long way just to Kaweah Gap along the High Sierra Trail (21 miles from Crescent Meadow), the scenery is phenomenal and well worth the effort. The sapphire blue of Hamilton Lakes and the towering granite walls of Angel Wings and the Valhallas are truly magnificent.
- Mount Dana – October 16th: A quick climb up this summit near Tioga Pass for early morning light on freshly snow covered peaks of the Yosemite high country.
- Vogelsang Peak – October 16th: The afternoon part after Mount Dana was a climb of Vogelsang, with great trails and nice views.
- Mount Conness via Young Lakes – October 23rd: Another spectacular fall day in the Sierras with an extremely scenic and pleasant climb of Mount Conness via Young Lakes. The route we took is one of the longer approaches to the mountain, but the views of Tuolumne Meadows and gorgeous Young Lakes along the way more than compensated. I did not have any expectations for Young Lakes but they turned out to be one of the highlights of the day and we spent considerable time at the main lower lake both on the trek in and on the way out. New snow on the surrounding cliffs of the Young Lakes cirque added to the beauty and this is a place I will definitely be returning to explore.
- Mount McDuffie & Ladder Lake – October 30th: My favorite adventure run of the year, Ladder Lake along the way to Mount McDuffie is one of the most rugged and wild corners of the High Sierra that I have seen. While the ascent of Mount McDuffie might not be the most aesthetic, the summit provides a magnificent vantage of most of the Palisades, the Ionian Basin, and Le Conte Canyon