21 June 2009

Upper Solstice Canyon

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Locate the trailhead.

Abbie plus her boy plus a new member of his lab plus her visiting parents and I all went off on a hike down by Malibu. It should be a nice little loop, except for this creep. How he gets away with it so close to Malibu, I have no idea. The trail had been going there long before he bought the property. And he promptly sued his neighbors to force them to give him the same sort of easement the trail has. A clear case of good fences making bad neighbors.

The hike starts at the end of Corral Canyon Road, which heads into the young mountains with many curves and steep drops from highway 1 just "north" of Malibu. The road turns to dirt and gravel and widens into a parking lot just before a gate. The fire road beyond may be used by bicyclists and the various single track trails from the spot may not.

Castro crest, by Castro Motorway.
Castro Motorway continues on from the end of Corral Canyon. We didn't get to see this part of the trek.

Many of the hillsides showed now well overgrown fire damage.

Hillsides growing profusely with a few burned bits rising above.
Bits of burned bushes rising above the thick chaparral growing strong.

The area is known for the sandstone formations all around, but we didn't get to the part that showcases that.

Sandstone rising above the edges of everything.
Sandstone formations along the crest.

We headed down the trail marked Backbone Trail. This is a different segment of the trail I took some of from Will Rogers a few weeks ago. The rest of the trail goes off over those rocks above. We saw all sorts of flowers and butterflies as we dropped down into the canyon.

Butterfly and sugar bush.
A bit of sugar bush putting out a little flower and attracting butterflies. Most the butterflies were this same kind.

Butterfly sharing a flower.
A butterfly shares a flower with someone else.

Going down, the trail twice crosses old utility roads that service the power lines to the antennas on Castro Peak. One of these looked particularly unused. From trail comments it looks like some people have gotten confused about which way the trail goes when crossing these. People are silly.

Blue flowering sage bush. Blue sage flowers on another bush.
There were a few flamboyant displays by some sage bushes.

A very perfect bit of yuca.
The yucca around were at all different stages including this one which was absolutely at its peak display.

A bit of light and yucca flowers.
Light playing on the yucca flowers.

We lost Abbie's mother just before the last drop to the creek about a mile in. As the trail reaches the creek at the bottom (quite dry), it turned to follow the creek up a little so shallowly I didn't notice it was up.

Butterfly braving the thistle.
There were other butterflies too. They're not scared of the thistle.

We lost Abbie's dad before a stream crossing just before a meadow. He caught up with her mom on the way up and continued to hike around above the parking lot.

A break in the trees.
A meadow along the way gives a short piece of sun in a well shaded area.

A bit of trail and trees.
The rest of the crew continues on.

Large yellow flower.
Another flower along the trail in the stream bed area.

and with bug.
And with a bug that seems to like the flower.

The trail started to climb out of the canyon. It often seemed more like an old road that had had some slippage to shrink it rather than a trail. Well, it probably was.

A bit of pink.
The same type of flower, this time in pink.

As we made it up onto the motorway above, we managed the first view of ocean. We supposed it was the ocean, the air was a little thick and the ocean hard to discern from the distance.

Green hills and blue ocean meeting blue sky.
The green, rolling hills dropping away to the ocean below.

The Backbone Trail continues on on the other side of the roadway and our chance at a loop was up along the road. We turned and climbed further up, some parts steeper than the trail had been.

The hills we have crossed.
Looking back over the rolling hills we have crossed, the cut of the road in the mountain shows where we started.

The hills keep on going.
Further on, the hills just keep on going and going.

Farm rows in the valley below.
In the valleys below, neat rows of farming ripple over the toes of the hills.

We got up to that gate with it's signs and barbed wire protecting a strip of nothing from passing hikers even though those same hikers have no hindrance from walking up to the antennas at the top from the other side. There didn't seem to be any way past on the well brushed steep hills, so we had to go the long way back. I caught some more flowers on my way back.

Little daisy like flwoers.
Small white flowers like a daisy.

Stupid gate.
The other impassible gate complete with "24 hour surveillance" and plenty of barbed wire looking from below on the trail.

Bit of red shooting stars.
A bit of bright red/orange shooting stars along the side of the trail.

Some bits of yellow.
Bits of yellow that liked the same spots as the red flowers.

A bit of hiding purple.
Hiding away in a bunch of bushes is some purple.

Butterfly alighting on a thistle.
Mustn't forget the butterflies.

Thornless raspberry? Probably not.
A bit of blue populating the shadier spots of the creek bed area.

Tiny pink things on the ground in the sun.
Coming back into the sun, tiny little pink flowers hugged the ground.

Abbie and Ankur got back a fair bit before me and Ankur's new labmate. They were tramping over the rocks with Abbie's dad when we got back.

Folks on the rocks.
Abbie and Ankur and George wandering.

©2009 Valerie Norton
Posted 28 June 2009
Updated 29 June 2009

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