Los Padres National Forestday 1 | day 2 | day 3
Locate the trailhead.
As the sky brightened at Chorro Spring, it was still very quiet. The wind started up again with the slightest light, but slowly. A few birds sang for a some minutes here and there. I boiled water for breakfast and packed up. The snow patches seemed smaller than they were when I went to sleep, hinting the night had not dropped to freezing. I headed up the trail toward the road. From the spring, it is a more gentle climb that parallels the road a bit to skip some rocks, then comes up at a lower spot.
|Someone long ago felt this trail needed a metal marker to point which way to go up the mountain.|
|Not everyone goes dormant in the winter. Here is someone who was digging holes through dirt and snow and now that the snow is gone, some of the tunnels don't have tops.|
|Some tiny flowers making their way in the world soon after the snow melted.|
Reaching the top of the trail, that end was well signed for the traffic. Looking back, the length of road that is also Reyes Campground is paved. Only a blank board marks it from this side. I walked the muddy and occasionally snow drifted road in the other direction. This was where I first hit a little snow that was deep enough that I should have put my gaiters on. There were a few gorilla car camping sites marked with "no camping" signs along the way. I quickly came to the edge of the wilderness where the road has been blocked and a parking lot built. A sign informed me of the rules of the wilderness in English and Spanish, but the map board had gone although I recall there being one in Spanish there before. Continuing down the road, the old pavement remained in places.
|Probably bobcat prints, but they were so small that I think my house cat would leave bigger prints. He is a big fella, though.|
|Looking out southward and a bit west, over the shorter coastal ridges, it looks like a foggy day in Ojai. The fog didn't seem to burn off all day.|
|Off to the south and a bit westward, the hills roll a bit more and the distance tells the same story of fog, but even thicker.|
Coming to a junction, the Reyes Peak Trail goes north and the road continues further around the mountain to the south, I turn left to start up the trail, then turn right to split the difference heading up the use trail to the peak. At first, routes abound as some people go right up the side while others prefer switchbacks. I selected switchbacking routes going through less snow. Soon, the trail settles down to a single, clearer route. It does pass a few false peaks that people are compelled to go up, so there's slight confusion at these, but eventually the overexcited learn to wait for the peak instead of going up every bump and the trail remains a single route past the bumps.
|The Reyes Peak Trail starts to the left, while a sign on the road tries to indicate that this route is the new route. Just up on the hill to the left, between the two, the use trail to the peak starts climbing.|
|The Lockwood Valley ripples away below to the north.|
|A revisit of the pines struggling to grow along one particularly bald saddle along the ridge.|
Reaching the peak, a trail extends to the south to climb the real peak. This is where there was once a lookout which is now a few burned bits of wood, twisted bed frame, some cables, some bent metal, and melted glass pieces in the dirt. A register is housed in two coffee cans, but someone had left them so that the outside one caught the water of the melting snow to make a pool for everything inside to eventually be soaked in. The ziplock hadn't kept out the water, so I could not see who else had been there. I added some arrows and instructions so that hopefully the large can is used as a cover, not a collector. It was still early, but I had some lunch.
|Standing on the flat patch where the lookout once stood, it looks like it is still foggy out on the coast.|
|The highest point along Pine Mountain, Reyes Peak. The soggy register is under the loose red rock in the crack in the middle. One of the markers is visible on the flat red section of rock a bit above and a bit more left of center. A second marker is behind the large boulder.|
|The very soggy peak register. I added some arrows and instructions to the ends, but I fear the ink in the brush pen is only fairly permanent, especially to abrasion.|
|Haddock Peak in the distance with its dropoffs showing.|
|A little bit of the local snow and trees while Lockwood stretches out far below.|
Leaving the peak, I decided it would be better for me to continue toward Haddock instead of returning the way I had come. The trail continues in that direction and the map indicates that the slope along the top of the ridge is really fairly gentle. Also, there would be a lot less snow to trudge through along the ridge than along the north side of the mountain. Shortly after the peak, I found an old ice can stove. The trail was much narrower than the one up, and I selected a new route in a couple spots, but it was easy to follow and easy to determine when I had rejoined the Reyes Peak Trail below.
|An ice can stove up on Reyes peak. These are one of the markers of old campgrounds, but not sure there were any on this mountain.|
After Reyes Peak, the land turns more rugged. The trail sticks to northerly slopes, the southern ones often being cliffs, and I passed to the north side of a lot of little peaks and ended up trudging through a lot of snow. The distance I must have traveled according to the map was about half what it felt like I'd gone along the trail. As my supposedly waterproof boots soaked through, I finally put on my gaiters as yet another knee high or better drift covered a stretch of trail. It was warm, so the wet feet were merely uncomfortable. I hoped that it would reduce the getting worse, but the boots seemed to let water in easily once wet on the inside. I managed to lose the trail twice on the way to Haddock. The first time, it had gone over a peak while I went behind and I caught it again at a saddle shortly after. The second time, I followed a game trail a little bit, then returned to the last spot I was certain of the trail. It had gone high again as I went low and this time passed over the patch of peak where the broken Haddock Peak sign rested against a boulder. In between, I took a few excursions up to try to find the high point since two markers are on the map and the peak seems to be the lower one. It looks like I got to the correct area in one excursion, but if there was a marker, it was up on the tall rocks I didn't climb because I didn't see an immediate way and had to admit I didn't really have the time.
|Peeking out at the rocky and rugged south slope from one of the many little saddles along the ridge line.|
|Sharing the ridge top with lizards, so it can't be that cold.|
|Down in the valley, there's an interesting cliff cut. The wide mouthed and shallow cave had water flowing down it.|
|A vertical line of green rocks. It doesn't seem like a place for moss to grow, but I can't think of anything else that would make the rock face that particular green.|
|Looking around (southwest) from very near the true peak of the mountain... I think.|
|These rocks may be the high point of Haddock, at least judging from the contours and the elevation markers on my map.|
|Up on Haddock, one last look out over the valleys below. It looks like it is still foggy out in Ojai.|
Continuing on the trail after the sign for Haddock, it quickly deteriorated to a thin line that looked almost exactly like the deer trail I'd tried to follow just minutes before. It started to drop quickly and a few of the trees on the trail had been cut away to show it was maintained by humans. It got steeper and there were cairns to help direct traffic over a rocky area. It started down a corridor of thick thorned bushes. A section had been trimmed in recent memory and the cut branches were on the trail, then it was just a narrow, steep, corridor with snow down the middle. As I decided this was something I didn't want to come back up, battling thorn and snow on the steep climb, the sun started to set. Along my left, a torrent of water poured over distant rocks. It seemed like there might be a reasonable camp with water soon, but there wasn't until the proper camp. Coming to the bottom of the trail, torrents poured past just a couple feet to either side of the trail. I crossed to the left to find a sign indicating I'd gotten to the trail intersection. I turned right and got to another crossing quickly, this one with no stones. I stepped in with my soaked boots thinking it couldn't get much worse. It was a little worse, but Haddock Campsite was just the other side and I could stop for the night.
|Likely part of the old telephone system that served the lookout up on the mountain or connected it to one of the other lookouts.|
Getting into camp, I found a spot far from the water which was really roaring. It happened to be under a tall cedar tree at the edge of large open grassland at Haddock Camp. I decided dinner first, then tent and couldn't find my lamp so decided tent first, then dinner. The light had been on my list of things to take out of the tent, but apparently didn't get checked off. I was almost out of water, so pumped some for dinner. While making dinner, I turned my head and the light played upon a toad crawling along that hunkered down as it noticed the light. It really wasn't very cold up there at all, in spite of all that snow trying to say otherwise.
I snuggled into bed and the water no longer seemed so loud. I woke at some point to see a perfectly framed dipper above me, then slept some more.
I shared the site with a couple deserted tents and sleeping bags that I'd already heard about. They weren't quite as advertised. One really was an absurd tarp bottomed and fiberglass poled horror with the bulkiest bag I've ever seen which looked waterproof on the bottom for more weight. But the other one was an REI Dome 2, which I think is their bottom of the line 2 person tent, and had a North Face bag sticking out of it. Also left were some rain pants and various other bits of clothing. Some slightly wool socks were dumped in the main fire ring. It'll probably take a while for someone who feels able to haul out all that to come upon it at the right time.
On to day 3 ->
©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 25 April 2012