South Ranch Open Space
Conejo Ridge Open Space
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The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency has offered up the 2018 Open Space Challenge, asking the public to "experience" a selection of 10 of "our best trails" with a prize drawing at the end for those who do so and report it. The local geocacher community contains a few avid maintainers of COSCA trails, so they set out to complete the challenge by including each listed trail in a series of approximately 7 mile hikes and inviting geocachers at large to join them every other Sunday. The challenge runs from March 1 to May 31, so there is plenty of time. Each route was put together by the fellow who built the Ventura County Trails web site, so there is practically professional trip planning. (He is also a local geocacher. There are clues scattered around the site.) Still, looking at the suggested route superimposed on satellite imagery, it looked like we might want to have it in at least one GPS just in case some of it was hard to find. He is not coming along to point the way. This particular hike was planned as a car bridge, but once we met up at the end point, it was decided that there was no reason for it to be a car bridge instead of a lollipop (except that sending a group of geocachers down a trail with no geocaches is a good way to gain a few) and we all proceeded to the start point leaving no cars at the end. As the start is not the most straightforward place to find parking, comedy ensued while all but one went somewhere else, that one looked around and assumed he must be in the wrong place since everyone else was not there, and finally all managed to to sort it out in another 10 minutes or so. We head out across the bridge to the trailhead nine strong plus one extra. (I refuse to call anyone a "muggle" just because they do not feel like signing logs in a "global treasure hunt".)
|There is no parking next to the gate where the trail starts to wind its way up beside a gated community.|
There is a sidewalk to get across from the parking to the bridge, but we miss it. The bridge crosses a wide wash with a couple of puddles in the concrete below it, but otherwise dry. The trail is really a utility road behind a car gate. It drops almost as deep as the wash and there is finally a sign identifying it as it starts to climb again on the other side. Birds are singing enthusiastically as we take the gentle climb. It seems odd, but most of them are on the side of the gated community, but I suppose there are more and bigger trees there. We at the front are getting up some good momentum when suddenly there is discord from the middle because we walked right past the first cache on the trail. We double back the few feet, but the middle is perfectly capable of finding it without us. The next one is a little way up a spur trail, and most the group heads that way, then further up the spur on to some more that enjoy some nice views of the local lake and Boney Mountain.
|Getting above the gated community we were walking behind before. My eye is drawn to the peaks that look mildly isolated from here.|
|A distant Boney Mountain across Lake Sherwood.|
We head off on another little spur on our spur to find that, after going over a nice rock outcrop, it reconnects with the main road. The recent storms have dropped snow on a few things that would not normally see it and way out north is a mountain I should probably know covered in the stuff. It is a bit distracting trying to figure it out. It certainly does not look like Pinos. Pine Mountain? What should be north from here?