20 March 2017

Redrock Mountain

Angeles National Forest

Link to map.

Redrock Mountain really catches the eye when viewed from the west side where its deep red heart is on display. Since I have plodded along on a few trails that do this, the mountain has eaten into my consciousness. The area around it was once quite popular among hikers and each excursion I have done around its base has shown me new reasons why. Today, any entry into the area requires first a mile along paved roadway before getting to a trail that can get one to the good stuff. It tends to weed out anyone who is not looking for a long hike. Today, I am looking for a long hike. I will head up Fish Canyon and climb that mountain, then return via Redrock Canyon and (Old) Telephone Road. A previous excursion that returned via Telephone Road lead to a bit of disappointment in being only able to see some of the beauty around me because it was already getting dark. Timing for off trail travel is uncertain, so I could end up in the same situation today. An early start would guard against that and that is why I am starting down the paved road as the sky thinks about brightening.

glowing Fish Canyon
Not much of a color show as the dawn breaks.

There is light. There is a glow from the power plant and from the many cars of people arriving to work at it. Very low clouds do not promise much of a dawn show. As I walk, there seems to be another glow developing deep within Fish Canyon that slowly swamps all else. Light reflects from the creek. I can hear Castaic Creek below me but cannot see water in it until the bridge. What is running through the gauge does not seem very substantial, but it is much more than I have seen before. It must be about sunrise by the time I start up Fish Canyon, but there is little clue of it from the sky. Things just sort of get brighter more and more slowly.

Fish Canyon flow
Fish Canyon seems to have a nice flow through it, but not nearly so much as the willows appear to have withstood recently. Some of the hillsides are golden with poppies. The color will be even brighter once the flowers actually open up for the day.

truck trail in good repair for now
Entering the canyon. The sycamores have only started to leaf out.

15 March 2017

super bloom

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park




The super bloom going on around Borrego Springs and in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is expected to reach its peak in the middle of March, so the Hundred Peaks Section planned a rare outing without any peaks to climb for the ides. Looking at just the cost of gas, the price of admission does seem staggering for a single day looking about. Still, this is supposed to be a 1 in 20 years level event, so I decided to get up in the early dark and get myself down there to see this bloom.

Henderson Field
First stop along Henderson under Coyote Peak.

Our first stop is along Henderson Road, but we have been seeing flowers for a while at this point. At first glance, there are only about three types of flowers in the field. Most noticeable are masses of yellow of desert sunflower. Big floppy white flowers of the dune evening primrose are quick to catch the eye. Big puffs of purple of desert sand verbena complete the initial colorful impression.

dune evening primrose
Dune evening primrose in the sun.

desert sunflower, dune evening primrose, desert sand verbena
Sunflowers standing over desert primrose and desert sand verbena. There are quite a few green stems that are not yet flowering, too.

13 March 2017

Franklin Trail - phase III

Los Padres National Forest



I have gotten on various mailing lists for trail work volunteers and today it means hitting "phase III" of the Franklin Trail without having to walk up to or along the various utility roads first. Our entry point was surprising to me, but the final parking is exactly as expected. With a safety briefing, we take off in two groups to do some trail work. I am with Mike who is cutting away the brush to bring the trail up to specifications for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian users. The last requires quite a bit of clearance. We head up a little over a mile to where we are starting work. The trail looks a lot different from when I was here before.

tread work
There has been a lot of tread work on the trail now. When it was just a "p-line", it was just clear enough to let the odd archaeologist or biologist through.

sea of fog lapping at the hills
There is very little city below because the ocean is topped with a sea of fog.

Santa Cruz in the fog
Down the valley to Carpinteria and Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.

07 March 2017

Oso Ridge and Chaparral Crest

Ventura River Preserve



I headed off to the Riverview Trailhead of the Ventura River Preserve to see the Ventura River. It is, as far as I am concerned, a mythical thing. There is certainly a space for it to fill and the water wells within the preserve hint at some underground flow, but it has always been parched white rocks when I was there. Not even puddles in some deep pools. I will then have to cross it to have a nice hike through the preserve, so I tried to figure out what that would mean. I found an online gauge for the river that indicated about 44 cubic feet per minute going past. The crossings are very wide and the area quite flat so it is not flowing past quickly. Maybe that is a lot. Probably not? I have socks and shoes for hiking, but as I set off I am only in some minimalist trail runners I have used for river crossing in the past.

Santa Ynez Mountains
The far east end of the Santa Ynez Mountains and Kennedy Ridge back the flat of the Ventura River Preserve.

These days, there are signs at every turn. I simply follow the ones pointing out Oso Ridge and work my way toward the river. This leads me past a long dead vineyard and scattered oaks among the green grasses. There is a thin creek, probably a diverging bit of the river, and then there is the thing itself.

posts to prop up grapes
Ghosts from the past show what the flood plain was once used for.