Experiencing Mud Creek

Experiencing Mud Creek …

I live not on Big Sur Island, but on Big Sur Peninsula. I can get out east, and have 4 times in the last two months – once going east to go south, once going east to go north, and twice just to go east. Friday, I decided to go south, across Mud Creek. Photographs just do not tell the story. I took none. I was too busy dodging people, big trucks, small trucks, cement trucks, loaders, and watching rocks come down off the mountain, and of course, driving, to take any photographs. It is not a story that can be told in photographs. I am not sure words can do it either. As another South Coaster said, “Mud Creek is a war zone.”

I have driven across that area hundreds, maybe even a thousand times. This was an eye-opener. CalTrans and contractors everywhere working. Drains going in, dirt being hauled away… and water coming down off the mountain in rivers. So much water. Three different slides happening simultaneously. There are many places where the road is only one dirt lane, dropping off into the ocean. There is one place where the road has dropped at least 2-3 feet and one drives off into an abyss in the making. There is impermanence here. Mother Nature is making herself heard. She was too subtle for us to hear, before, so now she roars.

On the way down, I stopped at one location and the flagger did not look at me, but kept his eyes up the mountain, watching for movement. I watched, too. On the way home I was following a truck through the same area, to have him stop on the northern end to turn around and head down to his “spot” to receive all the excess dirt he was to haul away. Of course, I had to stop and stay out of the way. I looked to my right, and saw pebbles coming down the mountain right there – right where I was. First pebbles, then rocks, then boulders, is the way it happens, Rock Knocker taught me. I did not want to stick around for the boulders. I got out of there, as soon as I could scrape by the truck.

All my life I have been an optimist. I am not optimistic about this spot, right now. Maybe after a couple months of no rain, things can stabilize, but for now, I don’t see it opening to the inexperienced and sometimes unconscious travelers that want to come up Highway One, not to mention that a high clearance vehicle is now a requirement to get through the drop-offs. I would like to have better news, but I do not.

I was going to see what Paul’s Slide was like, but I just didn’t have it in me. Maybe next week. Mud Creek was enough.


Cal Trans photograph

14 thoughts on “Experiencing Mud Creek

  1. Well written story about Big Sur’s latest tourist attraction which I remember well: Las gigantescas cascadas de barro The Niagara Falls of Mud… Or, perhaps better, in Spanish for a bit of local flavor and marketing prowess: Las Gigantescas Cascadas de Barro del Sur – Viewing platforms opening soon!

  2. Wow, Kate. When I saw the photos, I knew it was bad…but you really bring that home. Thank you for posting this. I hope folks take heed and tread lightly…and that all workers there are SAFE. I hate to say it, but rain is due in a couple days. I would suppose that makes all bets off. I have been on Hwy 1 when slides were happening, but not when it was this bad. It is a scary proposition when it’s not this bad…now? Yikes. Take care, everyone, of yourselves, and each other. I send Love and support from Texas.

  3. Hi –
    While I don’t live anywhere near Big Sur, I have visited the area frequently since the early 1960’s from southern Oregon and I have grown to love it dearly. My heart and prayers go out to all those who live in or near the area and to Big Sur itself. May it recover and heal in time and return to its idyllic self. Personally, I won’t be making the journey there anytime soon so as to do my part in letting things settle down. My deep appreciation to you Big Sur Kate for maintaining this online journal.

  4. Hi Kate…seems just like old times…remember the caps and tee shirts they sold at Nepenthe? I think I still have my cap…right next to my Big Sur Yacht Club burgee…Alohas…and Mahaos. Bob Cross

  5. Kate, can you confirm Carmel Valley meeting on road work for Cachagua Road washout may not start until mid summer; they made no mention on Tassajara Road slide, fill in the missing details, thanks..

  6. Another glorious morning with some wind, listening to a steady rain, no interruptions of flood alerts on morning media & streaming sources.

  7. Soledad highlands showing a new blanket of snow; does anyone reside in this isolated place?

  8. KSBW: “Cachagua Road repairs expected to start mid-summer at earliest”

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