03 December 2017

Travertine Pools along Cold Spring Trail

Los Padres National Forest


Click for map.

The blurb said a hike down to Forbush Flat and then 1.5 miles more to a natural spring. Cryptic. What could it mean? If they head down Gidney Creek, it would be somewhere I have not gone before. Maybe they would hike up the creek and it is that far to the spring that should be feeding Forbush Flat? That seems rather long, but I have not done it and with enough twists, maybe it is. It is rated strenuous for just six miles. That could mean off trail or just try to discourage those who might get in trouble with the "upside down" hike. Most likely, they mean the travertine pools. It would be easy to ask, but also easy enough to sign up and get to either see the pools again or something new.

starting with the view and heading down
Up toward the top and heading down. A beautiful day for it.

Little Pine in front of Big Pine and West Big Pine
The loose cliffs of Little Pine Mountain are looking especially stark today.

02 December 2017

Santa Paula Canyon, clean up to the punch bowl

Los Padres National Forest

Click for map.

There seem to be certain trails that attract a class of thoughtless hiker that acts like the greatest value the place they are hiking through is as a land fill and tosses their trash off to the side as they go. Unfortunately for Santa Paula Canyon, it is one of these trails, so Los Padres ForestWatch organizes regular clean ups along it. And for the volunteers, Figueroa Mountain Brewing has provided free beer. This is not so cool because it comes in the form of a coupon that is only good on the same day. They have also provided bags. This is very cool because they are former grain bags and are tough enough to take on lots of broken glass tossed within and plenty of thrashing into bushes on the outside while being a reused item. We will have no trouble tackling whatever trash comes with these. After signing three forms and listening to a safety lecture, we are ready to head out to the trail. First, there is the paved hike through the college. Handy frequent signs direct us along the way.

starting out
Hiking up the road through the college with our grain bags tucked away.

The group is split into two at the start. One will head all the way to the campgrounds near the punch bowl, then pick up around there and on the way back. The other group will do the trail closer to the start. Almost everyone seems to head off in the first group going for the further hike. Together, we walk the paved roads, past the oil wells, around more oil well, and finally into something like nature down into the canyon and across the creek. It is quite full with water. The trail beyond is well traveled and easy to follow. The difficulty really comes from all the options. Still, it seems likely that all the options get there too.

wide bit of easy to cross water
The creek. With water.

19 November 2017

Big Rabbit: Rabbit Peak

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Click for map.

DAY 1 | DAY 2

The night was already colder than expected when we went to bed, so we were slightly worried. Somehow it did not get much colder and was already getting warmer by our sunrise wake up time. Pudding again for this morning, in "special dark" chocolate. The shaking elicits an, "It's loud," from my neighbor with just a touch of animosity, so I yield to the thought of pulling on my shoes and going back to the top of the mountain where the sunrise will be better. Such is life. We are out just about on time for the four rolling miles out to Rabbit Peak.

three hikers starting down off Villager Peak with Rabbit in the distance
Good morning star shine, it is time to boogie.

people picking their way down a rocky ridge
Shedding a bit more elevation before the higher peak.

18 November 2017

Big Rabbit: Villager Peak

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


Click for map.

DAY 1 | DAY 2

The hikers gathered at just the right crossing of Truckhaven and S22, the latest coming in at midnight, to camp and get a mildly early start in the morning. Who would have thought the state park would allow dispersed camping? Just have to keep it within one car length of an established road. I give my banana pudding* a nice, long shake and put it aside in the cool morning air to refrigerate before carefully examining my foot for even the slightest glimmer of pain. No motion seems to set it off, so I get to wear my trail runners. It makes me feel safer to have a bigger range of movement on a wild "trail". I get some hot chocolate together to go with the banana pudding and scarf down half of it before getting a rather loud full signal. I head over to the actual meet point. We get signed in and extra sure that everyone has enough water. My brain keeps grunting that this will be a particularly heavy pack until a change of perspective. I have often gone out into the Sierra with 20 pounds of food about about 5 pounds of water. Swap those and it is about what I have today. Nearly 20 pounds of water and about 3 pounds of food. This is a perfectly ordinary pack and this weight will disappear faster.

dispersed campers and the mountain to climb
Folks camped out one side of the other of Truckhaven Road. Ryan came over to say we would be going up that smooth ridge on the left to start, but the rest is hidden.

We start off across the flat desert on a well established and initially very sandy use trail. It is glaringly devoid of the slot canyons I was hiking past yesterday and was expecting to see more of. The scattered rocks look rather volcanic. There are more hints we are walking over different geology as we pass by ocotillo that is bursting out with enough leaves to hide the wicked thorns along their towering branches. We cross a wide and shallow wash just before we start our climb among granite. That is definitely different from the sedimentary rocks yesterday.

long stems of ocotillo reaching for the sky and clothed in leaves
Is it the season for the ocotillo to green? Travelers Peak is probably the slightly higher and slightly further point on the right.

ocotillo bloom, a stem with a row of red barrels
A few ocotillo are even in bloom.