Torn out of slumber by the chirping of my alarm, for a few minutes I am completely disoriented. Hastily packing whatever I can find in my cupboards I am still a few minutes late to meet M and B.
We head north to Mill Creek in the pearly light of dawn. As we descend to the creek side trail, the first rays of sun illuminate the far golden hills.
Towering redwoods, mossy, fallen logs, lush green ferns. Mill Creek is Big Sur at it's most magical. Or The Shire, as B suggests. We wander for some time, crossing and re-crossing the stream.
After several miles, we climb out of the verdant stream side - up the steep, tawny hillsides. The heat is already oppressive.
Stepping carefully, concerned about snakes, my eye falls on this delicate Mariposa lily. It seems unbelievable that it could flourish in such stony, inhospitable soil.
Back at the car and uncertain of our next destination (the best hikes are usually fairly unstructured) we head up Nacimiento - Fergusson Road, intending to climb Cone Peak. A wrong turn and miles and miles of rough, rocky, dirt road later, we are truly at the end of nowhere. A very long way off, Cone Peak shimmers in the heat. It will have to wait for another day.