Mikael Kennedy and I spent a week in November field testing Woolpower baselayers as we camped our way up the California coast.
Pt. 2: Boronda Trail, Big Sur, CA
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.
- Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill
I climbed down the ladder from my lofted bed and took a Sunday morning stumble to a never ending view of the Pacific Ocean. It’s impossible not to get a little emotional when staring at such things – especially at 7am - so I decided to stoke my sentimentality and play Kate Wolf from my pocket while I rested in the tall grass. Mikael had arrived after dark the night before, and when I returned to the bus, he was slowly taking in the surroundings as the sunlight peaked through the eucalyptus.
We loaded a few things into Fletcher’s truck and departed Partington Ridge around 10am, driving north on Highway 1 for breakfast at Deetjen’s. The hostess lead us to a table next to the fireplace, welcoming me with a “sweetie” and a quick touch on the back more therapeutic than the finest massage or therapy session. It set the tone for the day and if I really wanted to get into it, I could use it as a metaphor for California, but I won’t go there. Not yet.
After asking the waitress for a couple of matchbooks (I make sure to get a few every time I’m there. I don’t need them but they’re beautiful and look good sitting under the fusebox in my apartment.), we paid the bill and lingered in front of the hot fire. It wasn’t especially cold inside or out, but when there’s a fire in Deetjen’s and you’ve had too much caffeine, you talk. And talk. And talk.
When we finally decided it was time to leave, we changed our clothes at the car and drove a few minutes south to start hiking. We parked right on 1, walked across the road and began our ascent up Boronda Trail. The lower hills are covered with pampas grass, a stoic golden lady that sits under the hot sun, cleverly waving to the crowds driving down the highway. They lovingly stare back, not knowing that pampas is an invasive species in the Big Sur hills.
As we reached the stand of oaks that our hosts, Fletcher and Noel, had referenced at breakfast, our group became four wanderers, each of us breaking off from one another to be alone and sit in the sun. I decided to keep walking, stopping when I could see the oaks from above and the ocean below.
I’m not sure if it was ten minutes or two hours later, but eventually, the rest of the group caught up and we continued walking. I spent the next leg of the trail picking those good ol’ black sage leaves, rubbing them in my fingers and breathing in deep. Black Sage is one of the best smells there is and it helped to cover up the aromatic turpentine weed that the wind was picking up as we kept climbing.
We finally reached Timber Top camp around 4pm, several hours after we had started. The top was anti-climatic, which wasn’t surprising after spending the last few hours oooh-ing and ahhh-ing at every turn. There’s no view up there, just a campground with a few benches and plenty of NO FIRE signs. We ate persimmons and almonds, then started the long descent back to the car. By the time we finished, it was getting cold and dark, so we drove up the highway for a couple of beers at the deli before walking next door to dinner at the Big Sur Bakery.
A few glasses of wine and even more pieces of pumpkin bread later, we headed to Esalen, our final stop of the day. Sunday is discounted for locals, so Fletcher and Noel brought Mikael and I as their guests. The air was warm and thick as we walked down to the baths, and as we undressed and submerged ourselves in silence, the full moon hovered above us, shining light on the waves that provided the surrounding soundtrack. I put my head down and finished the day the same way I started it, watching and listening to the Pacific Ocean wrestle with the California Coast.
Photos by Mikael Kennedy
Ullfrotté Original is the material developed by Woolpower AB in Östersund in the early 1970’s in collaboration with the Swedish military, scientists, doctors and survival experts. The textile is highly wear resistant and consists of fine Merino wool, polyamide/polyester and air.
The material is knit so that one side is smooth, and the other has terry loops. The lofty terry loops, in combination with the crimp in the wool fibers, creates a knitwear capable of trapping a lot of air. Up to 80% of the material actually consists of air, which means that the material has an excellent capacity to trap body heat. The more air you can keep still around the body, the more heat you can retain.
The company employs about 70 people and the entire production is in Östersund, in the northern part of Sweden. Approximately 80% of the sales are exported to about 25 countries all over the world.