Little Men, Big Sur

I’d like to think over the years I’ve learnt at least a handful of the many lessons I’ve received, and so in a rare act of Labor Day weekend wisdom, instead of heading into the cauldron that is the Sespe in the summer or scaling some blistering hill along Hurricane Deck, I led the intrepid Panthers and Mongooses of Cub Scout Pack 3179 for a four-day sojourn to the Pico Blanco Boy Scout camp in Big Sur.

I’ve camped at numerous BSA camps across the state, but had never visited Pico Blanco (a camp in the Monterey RD of the Los Padres operated by the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council). A handful of other Ventura-area troops have made the annual “family camp” offered on Labor Day weekend, and had been recommended to us as a chance to enjoy the programs and environs of the camp with everything available save the mess hall.

After the nearly 6-hour drive to camp, the boys hunkered down and quickly busied themselves with the setting up of their beds and kitchens. As we were car camping, this was a far easier and more complacent task than during some of our more adventurous sojourns.


The boys were up early their first morning, and I was glad to find Little Man busy prepping my breakfast. Having a go-to cook is proving supremely handy these days (though admittedly I greased those wheels by awarding him his own MSR PocketRocket, cook kit, fuel canisters, and a few lighters sans thumbguard … but come on people, this is the gift that keeps on giving [back to me]!).

Head Chef

After colors, our first order of business was to get numerous safety briefings from the camp staff. The instructions for the rifle and archery ranges — as one might expect — took the longest. But as our Webelos are known for their hiking prowess, it was with particular zeal that they took to the trek they’d selected from the menu of options — a journey through the Los Padres and along the Little Sur River toward Jackson Camp. This was a great 5-mile out-and-back along sorrel-clad ravines, cobble- and fern-choked crossings, and all beneath canopies of towering oaks and redwoods.

Image courtesy Camp Pico Blanco/Mr Roberts
Image courtesy Camp Pico Blanco/Mr Roberts
Image courtesy Camp Pico Blanco/Mr Roberts

Pico Blanco THTrail Masters

Trust UsTriple Towers_Pico Blanco

Fish Camp

At Jackson, the boys lunched and then busied themselves exploring the creekbed, catching bugs and snakes, hunting for albino redwoods, ID’ing (and avoiding … mostly) nettle and poison oak, and enjoying that old stalwart: unstructured free time.

Jackson Camp No 1

Hunting for Bugs

Whilst the boys roamed, some of us lounged in the splendor that is this tight little camp, and there in the duff and dirt lo and behold:

Lost and Found

I know you can read it with ease, gentle forest reader, but for the sake of being thorough allow me to translate: “JACKSON PUBLIC CAMP.” Dimensions are on par with those (very) few we still find afield (e.g., Indian Canyon) and the numerous in protected or private collections.

Indian Camp
Indian Canyon, Winter 2011

Battered, shot, rusted, and a general wreck, but still a nice find.

That night, the Cubs of 3179 unleashed on the unsuspecting staff of Pico Blanco their infamous “poker night” skit during campfire, and over the course of the next two days enjoyed the shooting range(s), waterfront along the Little Sur, the new climbing tower, and a night hike up Skinner Ridge.

poker table skit
Image courtesy Camp Pico Blanco/Mr Roberts


Race to the Top


Nighttime Traffic

A very relaxing time for us Scouters (well, for me at least), and the boys thoroughly enjoyed the camp. I suspect we’ll return before long.

Oh — we talked about receiving lessons, etc., at the opening of this one. The weekend detailed herein also happened to be my wedding anniversary. So … yeah, I’ve been reminded that next year it’s to be somewhere tropical. With the missus. 😉

Get ’em out there!

Pico Bound

(The Jackson Trail is detailed in Route 39 of Analise Elliot Heid’s Hiking and Backpacking Big Sur.)


3 responses to “Little Men, Big Sur”

  1. came across this seeing if anyone was posting pictures of the Camp during the Soberanes fire… the camp should be ok, but I suspect Jackson is being burned through today or tomorrow…. We, T455, launch a lot of great adventures from this trail….

    the place is insane in the Spring, river running, fire ok, thimble berries….check it out then if you get a chance and go deeper to Fox and the Circular Pools.

    1. person of the internet Avatar
      person of the internet

      Pico made it out of the soberanes fire. The fire went straight through camp and no structures were damaged. The only thing that was damaged was the electrical and water lines, they are currently working on those now. I have no knowledge of any of the outpost camps as they have not let everybody go beyond the boundaries of the main camp due to danger of being crushed by a large tree. The camp will be operating next summer for resident scout camp and hopefully Labor day and Memorial day camps as well as the other various activities that go on there.

  2. Jon Powell Avatar
    Jon Powell

    I enjoyed seeing your pictures of Pico Blanco. I camped there as a kid back in 1969. I am trying to recreate a memory I have of the night hike to skinners ridge. On a map, the skinners ridge trail leaves from Botchers gap. But in my memory, that trail left from Pico Blanco main area and headed away from the road up the hill to the…. East? On some maps this is marked as ‘Nature Trail’ these days. Can you tell me a little more about your Skinners Ridge night hike?

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