Adventuring amid COVID-19: A socially distanced weekend in Carmel, CA

Monterey Bay
Beatrice Aronson/Staff

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Summer trips are canceled, study abroad plans for the years to come are up in the air and you don’t know when it will feel completely safe to board an airplane. Sound familiar? We at the Clog are also missing the sense of adventure and possibility that usually comes with summer, but we’ve found some ways to work around it! A couple of weeks ago, my family and I took a quarantine-friendly trip to Carmel, a seaside town located just about 2.5 hours south of Berkeley. It was the escape we never realized just how badly we needed!

After some back and forth, we decided that staying at an Airbnb was the safest option because having our own entrance put us in contact with the least number of people possible and because companies of the like have recently enacted stricter cleaning regulations for their hosts. Additionally, having access to a kitchen meant that we could cook our own meals and come into contact with even fewer people. We knew we had to spend the majority of our time outside, but luckily there are some beautiful beaches and state parks in the area, so we had plenty to do!

We spent the first day exploring Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, a park nestled right in the heart of the coast. Hiking around the perimeter of the park took about two hours and ended up nearing 6 miles, but visitors can drive into the park or complete shorter loops. The hike included spectacular views of dazzling blue water, sea lions and seals. We also spotted a couple of the region’s signature cypress trees!

The next day, we drove about an hour farther down Highway 101 to Big Sur. Some research brought us to the Tanbark Trail, which we would have missed if it weren’t for the plethora of cars parked on the side of the road for beach access. The trail starts by winding away from the highway, along a creek and through a redwood forest. The serious climbing begins after about a mile, on a narrow and occasionally slippery trail that switches back and forth a couple of times as you ascend the mountain. Passing hikers traveling the opposite direction involved pressing ourselves against the side of the mountain to create the most distance possible. Four miles and more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain later, we reached the Tin House, an abandoned structure from which you get a breathtaking view of the entire coastline — the perfect spot for a picnic. The loop takes you down a fire road and along the highway to get back to your car, but given the lack of shade on the fire road and the unpleasantness of walking on the side of the highway, we chose to return the way we had come. By the time we reached our car, we were ready for some well-deserved ice cream. Luckily, Revival Ice Cream in Monterey came in clutch here. The shop is entirely gluten-free, offers plenty of vegan options and makes some killer ice cream!

We woke up the next day pretty sore and ready to go home, but we had one more stop to make on the way. Asilomar State Beach has always been a happy place for my family and the site of many getaway vacations. The coastal walking trail here served as the perfect way to stretch our legs before heading home.

Though we spent the entire weekend wearing masks and asking who had the bottle of hand sanitizer, this getaway was the perfect way for my family and me to get a break from our monotonous routine and a breath of fresh air. It proved to me that there are still ways to find that sense of adventure and possibility that characterizes summer for so many of us!

Contact Beatrice Aronson at [email protected].