Monterey County Herald - Monterey,CA,USA
Updated: 11/17/2009 09:19:16 AM PST
Under the burning orange leaves of autumn, I was drawn to Carmel Valley in search of "The Bucket." This swimming hole is a hidden hot spot.
When in the mood for some fresh water fun hidden from the main path, "The Bucket" is just the place to go. Off the right side of the road past the Village, the Carmel River is a short hike from the intersection of Carmel Valley Road and Klondike Canyon Private Road. Parking is a little tricky, so watch out for no parking signs; I have heard that deputies are known to ticket along this strip of roadway.
According to lore, the area is named after a rough-and-tumble saloon, the Bloody Bucket, that once operated entrance to the trail leading to the river. The place was allegedly notorious for its rough bar brawls and gunfights.
Finding the perfect spot may involve some swimming and trekking up the river.
Activities include swimming, hiking and sunbathing. Gray and honey colored beaches are found in patches along the banks of the Carmel River. Aspen trees grow in clumps. Large rocks line the edges of deep swimming holes. On the right days, you will find a private paradise. A location known for its nude swimming and sun chasing, inhibitions run free.
The spot provides a cool swim on warm autumn days. The climb down to the river's edge is a little steep and involves some rock climbing. Wear a sturdy pair of shoes and watch out for poison oak and cactus.
The path is easy to follow, once you find it. There was one section I thought was a fork in the trail, but upon further investigation I realized that the path led down a steep rocky cliff that was like a waterfall of rocks. Cactus lines the vertical wall that fell off sharply from the road above. The tall twisting oaks offers shade throughout as the sound of the river becomes louder with every stride. The bed of the river extends past the water's edge and widens at the base of the trail.
Up the river is a rope swing and plenty of boulders to climb and from which to plunge into the cool waters. If you're going to take the drop, it's a good idea to swim below to the bottom and check out the depth of the water. The river can raise and fall dramatically depending on the weather.
With a little lunch with plenty of water, I was set for the afternoon. The escape into the twist of the river to absorb the heated rays of autumn offered a needed relief. As I could feel the rhythm of the river and the landscape, I knew I had found an enchanting spot.
Kristin Leal, a student at CSU-Monterey Bay, is The Herald's outdoors columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com.