29 February 2012


My "in situ" sketches for the short month.  In the park and along the cliffs and at the train station in not-very-local places.

The pier from the cliffs by the golf course.

The well weathered sea walls along the beach.

Sheds along the beach.

And one that is local.

One of the ice can stoves at Cottam Camp.

Blue Canyon

Santa Barbara back country

Locate the trailhead.

The web page that indicates the current state of the first gate on Camuesa/Romero changed from "will probably be reopened on the 17th" to "was closed on the 27th" in anticipation of a coming storm that passed without much result. I decided that this meant I could make a loop of the Blue Canyon and Romero Canyon trails without having to worry about traffic on most of the road between the two trailheads. Not being sure where Romero meets the road, I thought it best to park near the gate and proceed to Blue Canyon coming up Romero Canyon. I spotted the sign on the way in, so could have reversed it but decided against that. I found a place to park near the gate and walked down to it, discovering that the mysterious road headed down to the left of the gate is actually a parking lot.

an overview of the hike to come
High on the side of the canyon as the road begins to drop down into it, there is a good overview of the hike to come.

Continuing past the gate, I found that there actually was a little traffic on the road. The ranger stopped and asked if I was going far. They like to know where to look if you go missing. The road eventually crossed over a nice flow of water, but still had a way to go before the canyon. The trail cut could be seen on the far canyon wall still far away. Crossing over a bridge and a dribble of water, the trailhead is visible on the left, simply marked "trail". Just down the trail, an informational sign contained details of the endangered species that live along the stream.

downstream from the road
The first bit of water as the road crosses Escondido Canyon.

28 February 2012

hope: Indian Creek Trail

The trails of the front country can be veritable highways where you seem to pass another person every 10 or 15 minutes, at least for the first couple miles.  Even as the people thin further away from the trailhead, the trail itself is often a wide track with a deep groove from the heavy traffic.  Heading into the backcountry, the trails are still well established though generally narrow tracks.  The bushes are kept at bay and the track is fixed if there is a slide.  But keep going, to the trails that spend some time behind seasonally locked gates and plunge into the deep backcountry (and often have attractions like hot springs near the start to draw off some of the crowd) and the trails start getting hard to follow.  They're easy enough for the first mile or two, but keep going and there's parts that vanish.  A few tree falls and the trail might be lost altogether.  It becomes a challenge to follow these trails.

It looks like Indian Creek is a good introduction to this sort of trail.  Starting near Mono Campground, follow Romero Camuesa along the creek for about a mile from the first locked gate to the trail just before a second gate.  The road continues along Camuesa Creek while the trail stays with Indian Creek headed north.  After about four miles and a few intersections, the trail crosses a 4WD route where Buckhorn joins.  Following Buckhorn leads to a campground in a half mile with a short route back to Indian Creek, if that is desired.  Otherwise, the trail can be followed along Indian Creek in a similar distance to the meeting of the trails.  After another 2.5 miles or so, the trail ends at Indian Creek campground.  Or at least that is what is indicated on the 7.5" Little Pine Mountain 1995 quad.

What is really there may not be what is indicated on the map.  The various trails intersecting the desired trail may no longer be visible, so should not be relied upon as waypoints.  Even the route marked 4WD might be overgrown and washed out at the intersection, leaving it indistinguishable.  My reading indicates that the route does have some traffic on it, maybe more than the average trail in the area.  The trail gets harder to follow as it goes along.  There is also a Meadow Camp that has been missed by the USGS some 3.5 miles below the final campground with a sign indicating that trail continues another mile after the campground before stopping.  Trail upstream (hard to pass along) also follows the creek until a campground there and while no one claims there is trail all the way between the two, people do connect the two.  This allows for a possible continuation of the trip and allows a return via Mono-Alamar for a loop.

There seems to be agreement that however far you get up the canyon, it is consistently prettier as you go.  Also, there's a lot of poison oak.  I also saw a note that there is no crawling along this trail, indicating that this may not totally introduce someone to all that is following the more distant backcountry trails.  Still, it does some in a mode that gradually becomes harder.  When (if) the campground is achieved, it should be a nice spot of solitude before heading back.

Follow the trail back down the creek, keeping to the creek when the opportunity to go to Buckhorn presents itself.  Turn along Pie Canyon trail for a new experience.  This will join back up with the route marked 4WD, which seems to be Pie Canyon rerouted to avoid the Dick Smith Wilderness where machines are prohibited, after a mile. A quarter mile later, it joins another 4WD route.  After a half mile more, there is a three mile trail back to an early point on the Indian Creek trail about a mile up as one option to return to the beginning.  Otherwise, continue down Pie Canyon 2.5 miles joining the Mono-Alamar trail just two miles from the original gate.  A short half mile spur leads to Little Caliente Spring, which may be less used as the road to it has severe storm damage a quarter mile down.

This could be a nice little weekend trip with a hot spring finish, provided all the trails are there and can be followed by the traveler.  All contingent, of course, on the road being open.  At the moment, it was closed yesterday in anticipation of the coming moisture (referred to as a "storm") predicted for that day and probably won't open for at least a week since there actually was some rain.  So currently, getting to Mono actually requires an extra five mile hike in from Cold Spring Saddle, which probably makes it a little long for an uncertain backcountry weekend.

13 February 2012

In and around Cromer

Norfolk, United Kingdom

This isn't really a hike, just a walk around the city looking at the various buildings that reside generally in the city center. Around the church, there are a museum and lots of shops and some repurposed buildings and some that are just old or at least built in an older style. I walked down the the center and around the church and the old not sure what, then hiked along the beach back to the lighthouse to grab my stuff and get myself onto the train.

On down the street are apartments while closer at hand are more apartments but they were once a school at a guess. This entrance says "boys" over it.

12 February 2012

Cromer and beaches west

Norfolk, United Kingdom

Cromer beaches route map.

Following the walk to the east, I quite logically chose to walk to the west. But first, it was raining in the morning, so I didn't actually start for a while. Starting at the lighthouse again, I went through the park and onto the path along the top of the cliffs. On the far side of the park, there is an informative sign showing such things as where a WWII gun bunker used to be in the area.

black and white bird in the park
A bird in the park.

I followed the path down the side of the cliff which brings one to the edge of the city by the beach. Cromer was built where there was a low spot so the beach was easily accessed and this is still the center of town, or more specifically, just the other side of the church is the town center. The pier is off to the side of the low spot and the local lifeboat launches from the end of it. (The lifeboat is like a volunteer fire department except that they go out to help distressed ships rather than put out fires.) I continued on the edge of the city, then followed a path down the side of the cliff to the pier and out onto it.

city center and pier
Looking into the city from along the side of the trail up on the cliff side.

11 February 2012

Cromer and beaches to the east

Norfolk, United Kingdom

Cromer beaches route map.

I found myself with a weekend in Cromer to do with as I pleased and as I pleased was to walk along the cliffs and beaches. This seems to be what a lot of the local population pleases, as well, especially since the day was amazingly lovely.

Cromer parish
Looking out over Cromer and then to the North Sea beyond.

I headed out onto the bluffs from by the lighthouse and turned to the east. In this direction, the city park by the lighthouse quickly morphs into the Royal Cromer Golf Course. There is still a path along the side of the cliff between the manicured lawns and the drop off. Signs point out there is no public right of way but leave it as your own risk rather than forbidding. Further on, the use trail along the cliff passes behind some back gardens, mostly mediocre but with a few that are quite nice, and more signs about one's own risk.

a working lighthouse
The Cromer Lighthouse, which is still in use.

Ecological Staircase to the Pygmy Forest

Jug Handle State Natural Preserve Click for map. I noticed an Earthcache that looked interesting as it asks for study of an area wi...