22 November 2011

Tangerine Falls

Santa Barbara Front Country

Locate the trailhead.

It finally rains a nice, soaking rain and I get tempted to go chasing after waterfalls. Sure, a soaking rain doesn't actually run off so much and the waterfall won't actually be spectacular yet, but the temptation can be quite great. Also, I'd found that this one had a route (as opposed to a trail) that takes one to the bottom of the waterfall and then connects with the trail above. I was a little suspicious about the connection as a reasonable route, but decided to try it. I got myself up to Cold Spring trailhead again and wandered up the trail, this time turning left at the sign to head up the main and west forks of the stream. Well... except I left the water behind in doing so. I continued on to the waterfall in spite of now following a dry creek bed.

swiss cheese rocks
Some great rocks along the trailside.

But then I can hear water again... except it's coming through the pipe that travels along the trail.

ferns emerging from a bit of dirt in a right angle in a rock
A great big rock with a bunch of dirt in a corner seems to be a good place for ferns to grow.

Eventually there really is water in the stream bed again and the waterfall becomes visible in the distance. It does, indeed, have water even if it is not so much water.

Tangerine Falls in the distance
A first view of Tangerine falls, as seen from the west fork trail before the main fork breaks off.

Coming to the point along the trail where the main fork splits off, it looked like nearly all people went on the path to the falls and above now. The trail continuing up the west fork seemed much smaller than the groove that took the turn. The trail drops to cross just above the confluence, or where the confluence would have been except that the west fork was quite dry, and then goes downstream the rest of the way before turning up again and climbing. As it continues, there are a number of little trails to pools while the trail follows a pipe. Then, it climbs up from the pipe while the route to the bottom of the falls contnues to follow the pipe.

a couple little cascades as the trail crosses the stream
Water flowing down a few cascades along the way as the route climbs along the bed.

The route crosses the stream a few times as it makes its way up the stream. It is quite tame at first, having only quite ordinary slopes as it climbs. As the falls get closer, the area has more boulders and the stream drops more quickly. Approaches to the stream are difficult, so the route no longer crosses over. Instead, it starts to climb. Handholds are needed from time to time. The cascades get more impressive, at least if one of the difficult approaches to the stream are braved. It's easier in a few choice spots where paths have developed.

funky waterflow
A cascade along the way where the route finds a tough spot and needs to get near the stream to continue.

little stream of water freely falling a few feet
A little waterfall along the way. This one actually jumps into the air a bit.

The climbing gets more and more difficult as the falls get closer, but never anything that requires equipment or any climbing knowledge. The destination falls come into view again, although there is still a bit of climbing to get to them.

a glimpse of Tangerine falls from below
The top section of Tangerine falls seen from the stream bed below with still a bit to climb.

water tumbling down a narrow crack in the rocks
Another cascade along the way, getting very near to the bottom of the fall.

Getting to the waterfall, there were no easy routes down to the pool, but there were a few mildly frightening ones. I picked one. Later some people showed off routes that might not have been as frightening, but didn't seem as simple to execute either. Some people were just determined to come up by as much climbing as they could manage. Most people did opt for the route I'd taken along a crack in the rock. Quite a few people came while I was there.

Tangerine Falls, top to nearly bottom
This is just about all of Tangerine Falls.

bits of growing stone
This waterfall is growing, so there's a few of these funky ledges on it.

a ledge that sticks out a bit
Broken ledges at the bottom. I managed to slip into the pool for this photo, but had scoped out how bad a fall from the very slick rock I was trying to stand on would be, so managed very little panic as it actually happened. Then I wrung out my wet sock and boot for a bit.

view of Santa Barbara from the fall
Since this is the front country, it has a view of the city and islands beyond.

After lunching and enjoying the area and watching a dragonfly play in the waterfall, I turned to see exactly how the route up to the trail was. It was as expected, straight up. To the side of the waterfall, there was a section that was mainly dirt and the route climbed this better than 45 degree slope for the length of the fall plus some. Sometimes there were attempts at switchbacks that I would follow because I like a smaller slope, but mostly it was a matter of finding the stiffest bit of dirt. The soaking the ground had gotten helped hold it together as I climbed. Toward the top, it split. I took the right side and eventually came up just behind the pinnacle. That point looked familiar to me from taking the trail up and a spur from it some years before. I looked for where the left side might reach the trail as I came down, but couldn't see anything reasonable.

a familiar tree by the pinnacle
This tree and the arrangement of rocks and trail near it, looked soothingly familiar after the extreme climb up the side of the fall.

I continued up the trail that is again down in the stream. It crosses a few times. There are quickly a couple of likely looking camp spots although you aren't supposed to camp on this side. A thin trail headed north into the trees which also looked familiar. I went along it to find the plow again. Another small trail headed up, probably the rest of the main fork trail that once and may now again reach Camino Cielo above. Then I came to the root cellar ruin, with the metal around all that is obviously left of a homestead.

Pemy Gall?
Someone's left some flowers, but not sure why or what they are supposed to say.

a bit of the stream
Some pools along the way, above the waterfall.

banana slug
I spotted a banana slug on the trail. It pulled in its antenna when I stepped near.

bits of metal that were part of a homestead once
The plow and a few other bits of metal someone has gathered to rest next to it.

rocks stacked makes a root cellar
The bit of rocks that are said to be a root cellar. Someone's decided it needs a poor roof, it seems.

I started hiking back out. The sun had already set, so it was starting to get fairly dark. Reaching the pinnacle, I continued down the trail instead of taking the crazy route down. It always looks steeper going down and it was quite steep enough going up. The trail was nice and clear and easy to follow and gives a couple more views of the waterfall. A couple of switchbacks had been severely cut, but the tread was still holding up in spite of the poor treatment.

red sky over nearby foothills and far off islands
The sky was turning colors since the sun had already set.

a bit of grainy waterfall
One view of the waterfall, although it's getting a bit dark for taking pictures.

very grainy waterfall
And one last look at the waterfall from the main fork trail. Super grainy since it's on the highest ISO setting the camera is willing to try. It's just a bit dark.

Continuing down, I rejoined the west fork trail, then the road to finish the hike.

©2011 Valerie Norton
Posted 12 December 2011

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