31 December 2011

sketches

Sketches created "in situ" for December.

A glance over the mountain to see the ocean.

Some fall color along the line of water.

It gets rocky near the top of the mountains.

An oak providing some of the rare shade along the trail.

22 December 2011

Tunnel Trail

Santa Barbara front country


Locate the trailhead.

I don't remember ever going all the way up Tunnel Trail and set myself to doing so. It is very near to Rattlesnake Canyon, which was such a common trail for us as children. The trail follows Mission Canyon up and has a number of other trails coming to it. Hiking starts at a gate on Tunnel Road and proceeds up a utility road. Jesusita splits off to the left as the trail starts properly a ways up the road from the gate. About halfway up, the Rattlesnake connector trail joins from the right. At the top, it meets with Camino Cielo as the road to Gibraltar Dam turns off.

The trail was apparently the route used to build the tunnel from the dam but existed before that. As near as I can tell, reading an old guide book, this was either the La Cumbre trail (as it comes up near that peak, so most probable) or Las Canoas (which as near as I can tell is what we call Rattlesnake now. The streets of the area still bear the name.) This was the main route used when one wanted to climb to the top, according to my 1904 guide book. It recommended coming back down by the Chamber of Commerce trail, by which I think it means the connector trail to Rattlesnake Canyon. The book says, "It may be explained that the Las Canoas trail proper runs up the Las Canoas Canon and joins the Chamber of Commerce trail among the rocky crags about half way to La Cumbre, from which point the trail is the same." The use of the words "Las Canoas trail proper" makes me think it was just as easy then to find oneself on a random use trail then as it was when I was little hiking Rattlesnake. Actually doing this loop now would mean a lot of walking along roads with decent traffic and no sidewalks.

After finding a legal parking space along the road near the trailhead, I walked up past the gate. The road turned off to the right where bins and dog mits were provided for dog walkers. The road became smaller but continued to be paved. The area stank of left dog waste and quite a number of people were walking up and down that area of the trail, many with dogs. Old pipes and supports from water handling could be found along the side of the road. The trail continued up to some water handling facility where it crossed over Mission Creek, with a small trail up it, then the pavement got particularly rough and soon ended. The dirt road continued and then split, a sign pointing to the left for both Tunnel and Jesusita trails. Soon after that there was another split, signed with Tunnel to the right. All along the way, small signs of the somewhat recent fires could be seen but it was mostly green and growing.

still on the road, the trail is ahead
Just past the end of the publicly accessible road, a ribbon of tar road continues up the hillside. Tunnel trail is ahead, Camino Cielo is 4.5 away.

last of the houses in Mission Canyon
Getting into the wilder areas of Mission Canyon as I get to the last of the houses on the far side.

18 December 2011

Lower Solstice Canyon

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


Locate the trailhead.

From the time we hiked the upper canyon area, I'd wanted to hike the lower canyon. I didn't then know what was there. The folks at Hike the Geek planned to go there and at first I'd remembered wanting to go. After reading a little bit about it, I remembered that I had actually got up there one afternoon and done a couple sketches although I didn't have the camera that previous time. I decided I would go again anyway.

Trails make a number of loops of different sizes and further trails hike up the canyon after the loop. The largest loop is about 3 miles with a high road and a low road. The high road gives views of the ocean and odd houses in the neighboring canyon and an overview of the canyon. The low road passes by old ruined cabins with more just off it. Little waterfalls tumble down the canyon near the largest ruins of an elaborate estate. A couple signs give a little history for the most substantial ruins. Continuing up the canyon past the top of the loop finds more cascades and tumble down ruins.

We got collected and started up the low road through the canyon. We quickly came upon the local flock of escaped parrots and their descendants. We wandered past cabin ruins along the wide, rather well kept single lane of dirt road. We quickly came upon the scattered ruins and little waterfalls at the end of the road and started poking around the area.

a segment of the local parrot flock
Parrots in the branches of a sycamore tree.

good stone walls in an otherwise burned down cabin
The first ruin easily recognizable as a cabin. The Park Service tries to keep it locked away from vandals and folks it might throw rocks at.

07 December 2011

Alder Creek - Juncal Road and Franklin Trail

Los Padres National Forest


Locate the trailhead.

Looking around for hike suggestions, I clicked on this hike, thinking, "Alder Creek is in LA!" I miss the now somewhat recently burned and still closed Alder Creek trail and decided to try out this one. The directions on that site tend to be sketchy at best, but Franklin Trail is easy to find on the Carpinteria and White Ledge Peak quadrangles. It comes down to Juncal Road along the Jameson Reservoir on the back side, and that goes west to something that may be driven by the public (when the road is open), namely Romero Camuesa, which is the continuation of Camino Cielo after an intersection with no other open choices. Just find a place to park that isn't blocking the gate nor on the road a few feet after the ford of the Santa Ynez River, then start hiking up the closed road.

The road behind the gate is currently a lot better than the road in front of the gate. It probably helps to have very little travel. The regular gate is quickly followed by another gate with long fencing on either side and posted "no motor vehicles". I had to crawl through the fence as there was no slot to walk through. Then there was a wide, dry ford for a tributary to the river. From there, the road just continued on, smooth and easy, up the side of the river. The screech of a hawk over the riverbed is common. It climbed a little from time to time, once where it was clear the road had washed out lower. Then after a couple miles, there is a ford for the Santa Ynez and it starts to climb. Above this ford is a narrow canyon and the dam for the reservoir. It was bone dry even though there was water over the ford just before parking. A deep pool a little way up had a little mud in the bottom, but that was all the water.

mostly river flood plane and some of the far side mountains
Trees growing in the flood plane of the river. The river itself is on the far side of the valley and doesn't have all that much water in it.

pines lit by sun against shadowed mountain
A line of pines growing on a ridge line high up the mountains and appearing to glow in the sunlight.