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.


Continuing down the trail, I made much better time than coming up. I decided to take the curve instead of the shortcut that also skips an intersection. The shortcut does not quite connect to the trail on the north side, but I did see where it was coming back. Following the trail around the curve became more difficult than I was expecting, partly due to some erosion, partly due to the large flat area that could easily be traveled, so paths wandered. The paths came together again near a sign marking the trail where there was once an intersection but is no longer. The route up was a road and now is hard to find. I crossed over the stream to the corner of the curve and followed what looked like trail, then seeing an old road cut, I just climbed up onto it and followed it. Slowly, the evidence of travel along it increased and I came to the intersection for the short cut. I guess the trail is moving.

two of tree grass hoppers that were on a Humboldt lily
This Humboldt lily had three grasshoppers clustered on it while all the rest were as clean as usual.

a delightful yellow flower with red dots down the middle
One of the flowers along the route.

trail lined with buckwheat as I skip the shortcut
The trail used to go around this horn of land, but now seems to generally shortcut it.

tall yellow bush flowers, but not bush poppies
Some of the tall bushes obscuring trail along the edges of the creek.

once an intersection
A sign pointing out the direction of the trail. Behind it, another of those yellow metal triangle signs marks a vanished route.

I checked the register again, writing down that there was much that needed lopping, but definitely get the roses. A mountain biker had come in for the day the same day I did and I noticed that one of the Marine Fisheries folks I met was actually called "Fish". I walked down the road, then up the road to Little Caliente and the hot spring. There was very little shade on the way to the spring and none at it.

a perfectly odd flower
Some very odd looking flowers that delighted the bees.

the route to the hot spring from the end of the road
From the end of the road, use trails lead to the hot spring and to view points around it.

Little Caliente
Benches and built up pools allow soaking in the hot water as well as a cooling pool before the soaking pool. Of course, there is also the delicate scent of sulfur.

I sketched and soaked my legs, but since there was no shade and the heat coming up, I took off for Mono for lunch.

road into Little Caliente, as far as it goes
Some of the shadeless road along Little Caliente heading from the hot spring.

Mono Campground
One of at least three sites with tables in the walk-in campground of Mono.

After having lunch, I went for some water. I would be climbing up along the river, but most of its flow is underground this time of year and it isn't all that accessible, so this was my best chance at water until near the end of the trail. I also poked around to see if the debris dam had been the apparent bridge I'd seen. I found it and indeed it was.

Mono debris dam
The last of the season's water coming over the Mono debris dam.

dragonflies at it
A little bit of the insect activity by the side of the creek.

tiny fish in the remains of the creek
I spotted a few little fish in the shallow water, generally wiggling vigorously in place in the flow.

After lunch, I started the trip back up to the car, made a fair bit slower by the day's heat. There's a lot more extra elevation to go up than there is actual climbing. More bicyclists were coming down as I went up. Scattered oaks offered frequent and welcome bits of shade as I went.

Mono jungle
A look over the area known as the Mono jungle, which can be difficult to navigate through.

stiped mountains
Looking out over the surrounding land.

blue trail below the road
A bit of the Blue Canyon Trail making its way into the Blue Canyon from the Santa Ynez River valley.

jeep trail climbing the mountain
The Hildreth Jeepway heading up the hill from near a random road sign that doesn't mention it. It actually connects to the P-Bar Flats off to the left.

I got back with plenty of light left. Packing up my dirt covered car, I made my way back up the rough road that seems worse every time I go over it.




©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 26 Jun 2012

1 comment:

Mike Stiles said...

Those odd looking flowers is a species of Milkweed, Asclepias sp. Monarch Butterfly preferred food.