Camping along the coast of California November through April may be inviting but beware. The weather is temperate, in the high 50's-70's with sun during the day but the temperature often dips below freezing overnight. When I camped in Big Sur I was fully clothed in a sub-zero sleeping bag inside a tent and still woke to find myself encrusted in ice that broke as I awakened and moved. Perhaps it was just my being a novice at camping but I did not expect this. The warm days can be deceiving.
The Pacific is a cold body of water. Even in southern California, the temperatures are not exactly conducive to swimming without a wet suit. Once you get up to the Big Sur area, you won't see anyone in the water. That's because the water is cold (in the 50 F range) and the rip tides are notorious. Add to this the fact that there are lots of sea lions (prime shark food) and you have a good reason to beach comb rather than take a dip.
Despite the fact that Big Sur's scenery is spectacular and definitely some of the best coastal scenery in the world, only small sections of the coast are protected in state parks and national forests. This means that a good section of the coast is privately owned. Many landowners in the area have fences around their property and plenty of "No Trespassing" signs. When you're visiting Big Sur, be sure not to intrude on people's property, or you can face a big fine.
Poison Oak is EVERYWHERE. So be extra careful if you unwisely go tramping through the unpathed woods. It is noted by a 3-leaf pattern (Without thorns). But is dangerous all year long, even when it does not have leaves. Depending on time of year, the leaves can be green, red or yellow.
What makes Oak so much more of a pain, is its ability to spread, even without direct contact. (unlike Ivy)
It can go airborne if you burn it. Don’t collect random foliage and place on your fire, that can be bad. You don’t want to have poison oak in your lungs and throat.
The good news is, you can wash it off. If you happen to get into contact with some, don’t worry too much, you have about 24 hours to wash it off before the rash begins.
Numerous beaches are private and trepassing is forbiden. The barbed wires are there to remind that.
It is a pity to waste the view with such things.
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Highway 1, Big Sur, California, 93920, United States
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