30 June 2012


These are the sketches I did "in situ" this month.

A bit of falling water streaming over the rock.

The main waterfall along the way.

Rows of orchard trees from the hilltop.

Loading ships from the pier.

The seals hanging out later than implied.

Some of the vine-like stuff on day one.

Down at the creek at the start of day two.

The table doesn't look so good at the end of the day.

A nice warm bath, not that warm is much needed today.

28 June 2012

Eaton Canyon

Altadena front country

Locate the trailhead.

The plan was to take the three year old (and her mother) out for a stroll. I thought some of the lower sections of Arroyo Seco might be a nice place to go but since I've only ever gone hiking up the canyon, sometimes very far (but past the picnic area is still closed), I'm not entirely sure what one does in the park in the wash. Her mother had been wanting to go to Eaton Canyon, which is much more familiar to me and should be a reasonable distance. We actually stopped by the nature center the evening before and the wash is bone dry down there, but with hope we headed up to the start of the Mt. Wilson Toll Road and headed down into the canyon. Looking down from the bridge, we saw water entering the wash. There was hope for a waterfall after all. We looped around on the trail and got as far as the gauging station. The canyon was surprisingly crowded and the pools above and below the water gauge were full of kids. The three year old had to join in for quite a while.

The pools around the gauging station
A small crowd of children playing in the pools above and below the gauging station in Eaton Canyon while a small crowd of parents rest in the shade.

20 June 2012

Dick Smith: Mono debris dam and Little Caliente

Los Padres National Forest

This is the third day of a backpacking trip that starts here.

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

Lower Buckhorn turned out to be quite the cozy camp with wildlife wandering about in the near bushes all night. Not so surprising, since when I first looked at the camp on the way up, I heard the loud crack of a startled deer taking off through brush. I only knew there were so many animals around because of my poor sleep skills, not because they were worrisome animals. Getting up and breakfast.  I got a bit more water before heading out and found Buckhorn to be flowing through all the puddles that were there the night before and at least 4" higher.  I got packed up and headed down the canyon back to Indian Canyon and then down to the road below. Navigation didn't seem difficult at all for progressing down the trail. The confirmational ribbons were now informative and less required since I had passed that way before. Coming to the intersection I had missed, I found the old road the trail follows heads up marked Pie Canyon Jeepway and my trail eventually dumped back into the creek through a small break in the chest high roses.

Pie Canyon Jeepway heading up to the ridge
Pie Canyon Jeepway starts to climb out of the canyon toward Pie Canyon.

trail disappearing into roses
There are actually a few clues as to where to find the rest of the trail somewhere behind that cairn, just a little downstream of it.

19 June 2012

Dick Smith: ridgeline scramble

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

Waking up the next morning, I had decided not to go up to the waterfalls. The water really wasn't that good and there is no particular trail up to them. Also, for unknow reasons, I was feeling a bit of dread about the canyon. Instead, I would have an easy day and eventually go down to Lower Buckhorn Camp for a little more easy day. That would make a much more managable final day than hiking out all the way, especially since I wanted to stop by Little Caliente. Before even getting up, I heard a crashing through the bush. While looking out toward the sound, a bear popped into view. It was probably going for the water, it did not come to check out the camp. After relaxing around camp and painting rocks with leaf shadows and water ripples, I decided to get packed up and going.

lizard bridging a couple rocks
A lizard that seems to want to be out in the air instead of on a rock.

a leg and an vertebrum
Part of a scattered and very incomplete skeleton by the side of the camp.

18 June 2012

Dick Smith: Indian Creek

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

I packed up my gear and headed for Indian Creek, or as near there as I could get. There's always a locked gate between here and there, and at this time that closest gate is at Pendola. It is nearly the same distance to head down from Cold Spring Saddle at the top as to walk in from Pendola, skipping a mess of rough road that seems to get rougher every time I take it, but it is summer and all that elevation sounds hard at the end of the hike, so I drove the road. I actually got there the night before, driving in after a regular dinner, and hiked into P-Bar Flats. I was hoping for Mono, but it occurred to me while searching for the biffies in the dark that the intelligent person probably stops now while it isn't too terribly late and gets a good early start in the morning. I pitched the tent (just the bug shelter part) and hung the food and slipped under my sleeping bag in the nearly cool night. That was "day 0".

By morning, nearly cool had turned nicely chilly. I got breakfast together and packed up and a much better start than I ever would have got starting at home, plus no need to drive in and already 1.3 miles into the hike. It was cooler and much easier to see in the morning, so it was good I'd stopped. Then again, it was quickly warming where the sun fell. I continued down the side of the Santa Ynez river toward Mono, somehow seeming to be climbing as I did.

canyon as backdrop of canyon
The Santa Ynez river with the inescapable power lines rising up out of Blue Canyon as a backdrop.

trailhead for Blue Canyon
The unfamiliar end of the now fairly familiar Blue Canyon Trail. The sign just says Cottam is that way.

14 June 2012

Carpinteria Bluffs


Locate the trailhead.

Disappointed with Toro Canyon for being exactly what a reasonable person with the information I had would expect it to be, and not a way into Oil Canyon, I went down to the bluffs. Below the bluffs, the tar seeps out onto the sand and hardens. I parked in the dirt lot between two people enjoying the area by sitting in their cars talking on their phones. I headed west toward a farm on the end, then turned to cross the tracks at get to the cliffs. I stopped for more drawing on the clifftop, then took the old road down to the beach. A sign marked the beach to the west, where the seeps are, as closed for the harbor seals, but also said that closure ended with May. More pressingly, the tide seemed to be coming in and some of the points of rock were getting washed by the higher waves. With a little timing, I made it to the seeps.

thick oil flowing slowly down the rocks
Oil hardening into tar on the rocks it seeped out of. When it is warm, it flows, but today is overcast.

Toro Canyon Park


Locate the trailhead.

I got it into my head to see Oil Canyon, which is behind Carpinteria. I had read that there's really no way to hike around at the back of Carpinteria. One day the Franklin Trail will reopen allowing local access to the backcountry for Carpinteria's residents, but that has to wait for the building of fences along some of the sections where it passes private property. But I see road on the map, I think I can go on road on the map. And this road included the Edison Catway, which is very accessible in Santa Barbara. Checking Bryan Conant's backcountry guide for Matilija and Dick Smith indicated that there's no hiking route up there except for a couple of small trails in Toro Canyon Park. It seems the county has a "private" inholding in the National Forest... It isn't very far, so I decided to poke around.

I got to Toro Canyon Road and with ample warning for the turnoff for the park, turned down Toro Canyon Park Road. I went down it until suddenly I was greeted with two signs, one on each side, threatening legal action if I chose to continue down the road. How darling. Looking down a road to the left, I saw that it was the park. There is a fenced in dog area that two women were playing with their dogs within. There are a number of group picnic sites. I continued through the park over a nearly single lane bit of road and at the end of another wide spot, saw a sign saying "trail" with an arrow. The trail starts at a large gate and is indistinct as it crosses a large field. To the side of the field is a large outcrop of rock that was covered in playing kids. At the far side of the field, the trail becomes an extremely distinct road climbing the hillside easily.

lines of trees in an orchard
Most of the actual private inholdings around the park seem to be orchards.

07 June 2012

Matilija Middle Fork

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

When I decided to go up the upper north fork of Matilija Creek and started researching the trail condition, I found that this was not the most popular trail from the trailhead. That seemed to be the middle fork, which has better pools and more interesting waterfalls but also has some private property issues. The trail passes through private property, first with an easement and then without. However, California law gives the public certain rights to continue accessing long used trails and there is said to be an easement for the Bald Hills trail, from which this trail branches up in the north part of the property. Either way, it is not yet a settled matter. Meanwhile, there is a road through the edge of the part of the property that is used along which one can leave the owner alone while following along a multitude of foot prints. At the time, I decided to stick with the original plan. Since finding all this out, I keep seeing comments from someone or other who has gone up to Matilija falls and enjoyed it immensely. If finally got to me and I decided to go.

Heading up the brief bit of highway 33 from Ojai, I came upon the familiar road and turned left to follow it's tight, steep twist up onto the mountain side. Negotiating rock slides and randomly narrow spots and merely tight sections, I came to the end of the road, at least as open to the public, and parked in the large dirt lot. Then it is hiking along the paved road through the wildlife refuge. It turns to dirt at the end of the buildings and crosses over a bit of water. After the second crossing, a sign on the right showed the start of the upper north fork trail. Shortly after that, a sign on the left showed the start of the Murietta trail. Then there was a road to the right and a sign directing all hikers to the left, and finally the road split again. I turned right to pass through the Blue Heron Ranch and quickly passed out of the property again. Passing into private property again, a gate and wall are along the edge of the road. After the gate, the road is overgrown and ends in a wash near where the route passes into private property again.

a mountain with a flat slab of rock for a face
The big, open valley of Matilija Canyon, at least this low down and when not actually down in the creek bed.

A very well trod single track heads out the far side of the wash and past four huge concrete pipes that might have been meant to make the road go further at some point but now just sit in the brush with trails up and around them. Those trails might or might not head on up Old Man Canyon; I didn't investigate. The main trail headed through a canyon of high brush that felt quite tight at times, but only because trails usually have so much extra room and not because it was actually too narrow. Quickly, the trail started to split, often having a high route and a low route and campsites started appearing. To be more specific, huge campfire rings with large numbers of stone benches and very little space to actually pitch a tent started appearing.

the canyon with its cliffs above
Starting into the canyon as it narrows down and the high sides become quite cliff-like.

big yellow cactus flower with polinators
A few spots on the trail were sided with some very serious looking spikes.

02 June 2012

Gaviota Wind Caves

Gaviota State Park

Locate the trailhead.

The Sea to Backcountry trail was the 20 year (or so, according to faint memory) dream of, well, someone, and one Saturday for Trails Day nearly another 20 years ago, a mismatched group of volunteers and professionals gathered together to help make it a reality. The trail had been flagged, but it needed some tread and brush work as well as a touch of dynamite. As part of the unskilled volunteer force, I think I cut a bit of brush. Others scraped a line through the bright yellow mustard. I still haven't been to see what the final trail was like and would like to. This didn't turn out to be the day to see the trail, but, getting up to the wind caves, I did get to see what has become of our volunteer hours.

Coming from the south on highway 101, I hung a left into the south end of the state park. The road splits and parking for the trail is very soon up the hill to the right while information can be found at the kiosk to the left. From the dirt lot, we started down the paved road headed north. Eventually a trail leads off the road through the tall brush. It climbs the hill of mustard, today standing tall and dry, to get to some shallow caves before heading further inland.

flat rocks and brown hills of the surrounding countryside
Starting out down a paved road aimed at a bit of rugged country with soft edges.

Redwood EdVentures Quest at Redwood Park

Arcata Community Forest Click for rough map. My second backpacking trip on the Lost Coast fizzled with an email that permits were s...