A shoutout to my baby sister, Ruby, who turns 22 today! (not so baby anymore, but forever baby in my heart :))
I thought I would write about a memorable place we had been together. Many family trips comes to mind, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, China, California; but one place stuck out simply because we did not have parents on this trip and it was not the typical sightseeing and city-hopping kind of trip.
When I graduated from grad school a few years ago, my family visited California from New York for the first time. The west coast and east coast are really different, from scenery, weather to the general vibe of the people and culture. It was a refreshing and eye-opening trip for everyone after living in New York for as long as I can remember. We went to all the touristy places in Los Angeles and San Francisco and then we sent our parents home. It was time for a sister (and Min) hot springs backpacking trip!
Sykes Hot Springs is a local and popular weekend place to be near Big Sur, just two hours from the San Francisco Bay Area. Min and I love it so much that we had been there many times, maybe like 6, 7 times? We always love to bring people there because it is a great beginner backpacking place, with a hot springs as a reward at the end! The hot springs is a 10 mile hike from the trailhead along the Pine Ridge Trail. It was my sisters’ first time backpacking, so a 10-mile hike with a backpack seemed like a daunting idea to them; but they handled it with no problem!
Scenery along the Pine Ridge Trail is really just so-so. We hiked inland from the scenic Highway 1, lots of tall trees and little streams here and there along the way. The hardest part was probably just the first mile when it was a steep uphill, and the rest was gentle ups and downs. My sisters were pushing themselves in the last stretch as we were all getting exhausted and then we saw a running river. That was when we knew then the hot springs was just right around the corner. We took off our hiking shoes and put on sandals to walk in the knee-deep cool river. It felt really nice on a hot day in the month of May.
Just to note, don’t go there over any holiday weekend. We went during Memorial Day weekend and there were tents everywhere closely pitched next to each other. There is no rule or designated camping spots, so you can pitch your tent anywhere you want. After looking for a spot for a while, we finally squeezed our four-people tent between two other parties who did not mind sharing space. Now we can relax our feet at the hot springs. There are a few hot pools and the river runs along side of it. You can easily spend an afternoon between playing by the river and dipping yourself in the hot springs. Good day.
We got another morning dip the next day before trekking back to the car. Everything was great until one mile from the trailhead and I just had to sprain my ankle right there right then. Needless to say, the last mile was the longest mile in my life. I remembered limping my way out and being stubborn to walk when Min offered to carry me out. When we all finally made it, we feasted with wings and fries at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was a good time.
Min and I had been to Sykes Hot Springs on other times, like going with a group of 15, insisting to go under a forecast of storm with two inches of expected rain. Each trip all had its own memorable story behind them. This place has a special place in our heart, and I hope it will be re-opened soon.