20 October 2007

Alamo Mountain

Los Padres National Forest

Decided to have an overnight on the mountain. Haven't been there for quite a few years now and the little car should have plenty of clearance for the fairly well maintained roads up there. So up I-5 to Smokey Bear Parkway and just sort of go strait to get to the entrance to Hungry Valley. Then watch out for kids on dirt bikes that are worse than jackrabbits since they'll come back around to jump out in front of you again.

I went up to the top of Alamo mountain some three times when I was a camp councilor near Fraizer Park and had been up there twice since, but not since the 4x4 died.

The road used to be a bit of a sand trap but it had gotten paved the last time I went so I figured they were probably taking care of the road and it would be fine to take the car up it. It's now mostly gravel, but still a very nice road. Especially considering it's going through an off road vehicular park. I guess it's nice they're taking care of it now since once that first summer I found myself rolling over some hills on a much nicer road that didn't keep on going past campgrounds telling me to go 15MPH. It's good to actually know where the road is.

The stretches outside the park in the national forest that were always paved have had the bad bits redone. They've even added paving after the river, right up to the sign saying it's not a fee area anymore. Which is right about the place where it suddenly got cold. It felt like someone had turned on my air conditioner.
With all the good roads, I even decided to go to Twin Pines campground, up a nice unsigned road I always used the 4 wheel drive low for. Even it was easily passable.

Once parked, first thing I did was extract a coat. It was getting cold! Then I was going to start supper but found that the pots had made it to beside the bag and not in the bag. This turns out to be an important distinction. No pasta for me, just cold cornbread and cashews. I had some cashews and pitched the tent just a bit down the remnant of old road that runs down from the campground. There was a stream next to the spot the first time I was there. Two fallen logs, too, but most the logs I remembered had turned into smooth lumps of black along the ground.

Cornbread was good, but pasta would have been better. It got dark and I pulled on all my warm stuff. The bit of wind was growing. I was fairly sheltered, but I could hear it in the trees. I got out my lamp and read for the evening, eventually taking shelter from the cold in the sleeping bag in the tent. The winds kept going strong all night and the cold just got worse.

Tonight I had neighbors, but unlike the drinking target shooting neighbors I had the only other time I'd shared the campground (and decided to leave in the late evening because of), these were only noisy in conversation and were even quiet in that by 9PM.

But then morning. The sun rose far south of my expectations. Another reminder of how late it is in the year. Also a signal that it wasn't going to get any colder. (Finally! It's cold enough now!)

The sunrise, as seen out the tent through the golden oaks.
As dawn breaks, from my tent I can see the sun rise far south of the summer days of memory.