10 November 2017

Rose Valley and Howard Creek

Los Padres National Forest

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I have never hiked with the Ventura Sierra Club and thought I might when I noticed they were planning a hike including Howard Creek, a trail that has so far escaped my stomping. They arrived punctually in another part of the parking lot for the carpool, but eventually the two of us who were misplaced got found and everyone was piled comfortably into three cars. Upon arrival at Howard Creek Trailhead, we dropped off one car and continued a little less comfortably to Rose Valley Campground. Hiker parking is just outside the campground gate. Even down in the valley bottom, views already look good in all directions. But it is cold. All these campgrounds tucked into the north side of Nordhoff Ridge seem to be good cold sinks.

Rose Valley Campground entry with the falls above
The day looks good as we start up the road through the campground and out of Rose Valley. The waterfall looks like it might be a little wet or maybe just a little shadowy.

We keep right as we walk through the camp and quickly come to the locked gate and the start of the climb. It is hard to tell if we warm more from getting out of the cold pocket that is the bottom of the valley or from the work of the climb, but everyone who was dancing and shivering when we started is now stripping off any extra layers to get more comfortable. We have to dodge one car coming down as we climb. The road may be locked, but there is a set procedure for gaining permission to pass through and a few fun campsites at the top that people like to stop at.

Rose Valley Campground
Looking down on Rose Valley Campground where there is most of the fall color to be seen today.

04 November 2017

Mount Lukens

Angeles National Forest


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I came out to join a group of peakbaggers from the Hundred Peaks Section hiking to the high point of the City of Los Angeles. I thought that when I crossed into the city way out at the 5 and 14 split, I would not be out of it again until late afternoon, but I seem to be standing in the City of Glendale as everyone gathers up. I expected a large a-lot because it is Bill's birthday, but there seems to only be a small a-lot of just over 20 for the hike. Bill says he met his wife hiking this peak, so now we know why it is special to him and why he wanted to mark year 70 here. He is a bit of a romantic. Getting everyone together, waivers signed, introduced, and starting down the trail seems to get done fairly quickly. We hit the trail and start climbing just three minutes after the meet time. Admittedly, it was a very easy meet time to make.

Verdugo Mountains
Hang a left and start to climb. Quickly gaining city views and the 210 and the Verdugos with their antenna hair and fresh fire scar on the north end.

wide Dunsmore Canyon
Take the switchback and we overlook Dunsmore Canyon, which looks like it handles huge amounts of water in sudden bursts.

Mount Lukens
Our destination ahead. Mount Lukens has a little antenna hair also.

After a short climb, our trail suddenly turns downward and tucks into a narrow canyon with a clear liquid flowing down the middle of it. The mythical water that has a 20% chance of coming down on our heads. Most hop across but some splash through it. There is a brief moment when the trail is carved into a cliff as we climb out the other side. It is more daring than we had expected! As we continue, there are a few small slides on the trail and overgrown bushes above the trail set to see if they can get us off and down the side at a few choice steep spots. The group piles up a little at a couple, but nobody pauses very long for any of it.

31 October 2017

20 October 2017

Middle Sespe for fall color

Los Padres National Forest


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I could not help noticing a bit of fall color as I drove up the 33 last week. I had sort of been wanting to do Middle Sespe once some water gets flowing, but decided bright yellow cottonwoods might be a good excuse to come see it too. It keeps escaping my notice because it seems to parallel the Sespe River Road, and what would be the point of hiking that? I find a turnout about 250 feet past the nearly unmarked trail, or at least 250 feet from the coordinate I have for it. It would have taken a lot of looking without the GPS, especially in the dark. I decided I should treat light like it is important to me and get to the trail as the dawn was breaking. It is a little earlier than planned, but that just gives me time to get my shoes and sunscreen on. There is just barely enough light to walk by once I am ready to hit the trail. I head back down the road to the waypoint. Dirt and rocks have been piled up on the old road down into Beaver, disguising it as just another bit of road edge. Between the piles, a slapstick marker has been placed with an arrow and the words "TRAIL MIDDLE SESPE". Behind it is pavement. There is even a curb on one side.

yellow trees below, clouds above
A long exposure fortuitously held steady shows a bit of the color I am coming for even if it is not quite light enough for my eyes to see it with certainty.

brightening sky
A more accurate representation of the light level as the sun chases a bright planet up into the sky.

Clouds are rolling over the mountains to the north. Much of the area well past them is expecting a storm today. I am hoping it will bring cooler air, but promises of low 70s for the high today made last week turned into low 80s as the day got closer. I was only slightly cold as I got out of the car and am quite comfortable now that I am moving. I threw two water bags, ten pounds of water, into the pack to try to be prepared for what the trail has in store for me. Presently, it is more piles of dirt and rocks on top of the pavement with a route around the side. On the far side, the road has turned to gravel. The trail does not rejoin it, but crosses and drops down a hill beside it. It looks like it skips the old campground that used to be its western terminus now.