I can’t count the times I’ve visited the Monterey Bay region. It was a tried-and-true vacation spot for my family when I was a kid, and later on, my mom lived in Monterey for a few years. I go there as often as I can, but only now can I say I’ve walked the entire coastline from Santa Cruz to Monterey.
Last week, Doug and I went on a Slow Adventure—a four-day, 40-mile inn-to-inn trek along the Monterey Bay coastline. The signature adventure is Walk the Bay, which starts in Santa Cruz and ends in Monterey (or, you can do the reverse trip). The rate includes oceanfront lodging for four nights at inns along the way, breakfast and lunch, walking maps, trip notes on the area’s history, and luggage transfers (so you don’t have to carry it yourself). Just start out every morning with a day pack and you’re good to go.
Margaret, the Slow Adventure founder and guide, gave us tips at the beginning of each day. She was available for the spots on our itinerary that were potentially tricky—like crossing two rivers that connected with the bay. The Pajaro River crossing was easy. We waded in up to our knees, and in three minutes, sloshed across. The Salinas River crossing was more difficult. Flooded from spring rains, it took a while to recede enough to cross, but every few minutes, a big wave would crash up into the mouth of the river. We didn’t want to be out there when that happened.
Luckily, the benefit of having a guide who leaves you alone to enjoy your solitude but is available for the important things is that a quick cell phone call to Margaret solved the problem. She took us on a detour around the river and sent us on our way again.
My favorite part of the trip was simply being alone on miles of beach. It was just the two of us and occasional flocks of shorebirds. Sometimes, we’d see a seal or an otter. Sometimes, we’d see footprints on the sand from someone who walked on the beach before us. We rarely saw people. Highway 1 was just over some dunes from our path, but we didn’t hear traffic the entire time. It was like being far, far away from civilization—until we checked into our comfortable inn each afternoon after a day’s walk.
My first thought upon completing the 40 miles was that I had to do this again. Right after I get all the sand out of my shoes.