10 December 2012

Haddock and Reyes Peaks

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

I awoke in Reyes Peak Campground to a morning that was not nearly as cold as I feared. I checked another rock with a shallower bit of water and found it wasn't frozen over from the night. The Whisperlite decided to conk out just before boiling water for breakfast and didn't respond to threats of being replaced with the Simmerlite, but did respond to a second match. I got everything packed up and drove the last few miles to the start of Reyes Peak Trail finding that the mud puddles in the road were frozen from the night before. A difference of opinion, I suppose. For some reason, the main sign at the end of the road had been removed. The information sign has been repaired and even shows the route up the peak now. My plan was to take the proper trail over to Haddock Peak and poke around until satisfied, then return coming up the east side of Reyes Peak by the fairly complete use trail for a glorious sunset, then down the more familiar trail in the dark. Marking where the trail first meets the ridge after going around the back side of Reyes Peak with the GPS would make it harder to miss on the way back. It turns out the GPS can be used for non-emergency navigation, too.

I read somewhere that the trail to Haddock is 7 miles one way and allotted the water for this length, although maybe a little on the skimpy side. I added in most of my warm stuff for peak sitting, still wearing the light fleece over long sleeved hiking shirt. The long sleeved shirts have been very pleasant as things are starting to freeze, not at all like when I first got them as things were thawing and they were too warm. I packed in the art supplies and food and got started. The section of old road with requisite bits of old pavement to the junction seems shorter each time. Turning down the trail, I found it to be hard in many places and to crunch in others. More signs the mountain is starting to freeze.

north side of Reyes Peak with rocks sticking out in fins
The north sides of Reyes Peak look plenty steep unless compared to the south slopes of the ridge.

looking northeast
Ridges out to the northeast where Reyes Creek flows.

Cuyama badlands
The Cuyama River stretches out below.

Nearing the ridge, I put down one mark where I'd come down to the trail before and a second where I wanted to leave the trail to keep to the ridge to the peak. Navigation help accomplished, I had to go out and have a look at the south face of Pine Mountain. You just can't help it, you have to look, and there are a large number of short side trails from people doing just that. The face of Haddock Peak is amazing and the fluorescent green lichens stand out on it even in the morning shade.

haddock cliffs
Looking out over the south face of the mountain to the next peak, Haddock.

Potrero John
Below is Potrero John. The piece of landscape seems to make more sense after having actually been there.

Continuing on, the trail dodges to the north of the various smaller peaks along the ridge and the trail starts to crunch here and is hard there, but other places are wet but not frozen. When there is a chance to look out to the south, there are always small trails to do just that for the chance to gape at the cliffs and the drainages that are so nearly vertical. Bits of the trail are familiar even though that part might have been under a lot of snow. Particularly, there was one point where the trail split and I thought I'd gone on the lower route and it had turned out wrong, but it was so attractive I had to try it. It was still wrong. I opted to go back the few hundred feet instead of make my way across how I had gone in the spring. Once in a while when I looked down the mountain, I'd see a tree with a single wire hanging off it.

nice trail with no snow on it
A strip of good trail, which is the way it is all the way to Haddock.

one of the ravines where the trail meets the ridge
Looking down from one of the viewpoints to the south along the trail.

many colors in the layered cliffs
The cliffs showing a diverse history of layer sources.

With much less effort than the spring, and fairly dry feet, I came upon the sign for Haddock. Bryan Conant's map puts the trail distance just under 5 miles and I clocked it at exactly 4.5 miles from start to sign, which is past the highest point, but about where the mileage is marked. That's a lot less than 7. Dropping down about 200 feet along the trail, there should be a wide, fairly flat bump to the right with a benchmark toward the south end. I've seen complaints that there is none, but did not investigate it to see if they are correct. There should be, it's just not in a satisfying location.

Haddock Peak sign
The Haddock sign, now with rocks piled around it to make it stand.

Heading back along the ridge, I found what seemed to be the high point three peaks back. The trail comes very near it and I was pretty sure I'd gotten to the spot I was when I spotted the peak register in a crack in the rocks. The register goes back to 2006 and another was squished into the can below it. After signing it, I climbed the rock peak and had a look around. A pool in the rock had a bit of water with thawing ice floating in it.

not very prominant peak of Haddock
What seems to be the high point of Haddock. The register is between the large rock and the flat rock on the right.

view from the top
The view from the top of the rock.

looking down
A glance down from the top of the rock.

the road
The road is visible in the distance.

Looking out, I could see peaks popping out of a marine layer. The distinctive pattern of Anacapa made it easy to see these were the islands. The only lake this time is Casitas. After a while up on the rock, hearing the gun club from time to time and eating a bit of lunch, I turned back to find the more popular Reyes Peak.

badlands some more
The Cuyama River and the badlands again. The afternoon sunlight really picks them out nicely.

some more rugged landscape
A touch more of the rocks on the south face.

Getting to my waypoint, I turned up the ridge, quickly finding a bit of trail. The trail is getting quite distinct now and although it seemed like I was probably going the difficult direction, most of the footprints seemed to be going up instead of down, or at least the two freshest sets were going up. In very little time, I was at the peak. Scrambling up on the rocks, I found the register in its usual spot next to the remains of the lookout. My instructions were still on it and the new register inside was nice and dry. The melted glass and nails seem to be vanishing.

posts from the old lookout
Reyes Peak and the few bits of ruin from the lookout that sat on top of it.

westward view
West, over marker #3, the mountain continues with road along it.

Cuyama River
The Cuyama River and badlands in the afternoon light.

I signed the register and took pictures and enjoyed the air, but it was a bit earlier than I'd really wanted to be up there. I finished off the sketchbook with one more image from this peak and the wind seemed to kindly stop for the time I was working, but then it started up again. It was a bit colder than I was expecting. I pulled on everything I brought with me which was more than I had been wearing in the campsite the night before, but that campsite has trees and a few fewer feet in elevation. As the sun set out over the ocean, there wasn't much coloring of the surrounding landscape. The sky took on some color, but it was not a particularly spectacular sunset. However, as the sun got very low, more islands could be seen. At first I noticed that not only was there Anacapa and Santa Cruz with Santa Rosa behind it, but San Miguel could be seen. Then far out past Anacapa behind the shorter pair of islands, another island I can't remember seeing before could be seen. This is San Nicolas. Presumably, the sharp eye could have also caught the much smaller but closer Santa Barbara island off to the left of that.

San Nicolas Island poping up behind Anacapa
A smudge of dark out in the ocean behind the shorter islands of Anacapa is San Nicolas Island.

Haddock Peak from Reyes Peak in the sunset
The fluorescent green lichen seems to be the only color Haddock was showing off in the sunset.

sun setting over the ocean from Reyes Peak
The sunset over the ocean from Reyes Peak. Still a sunset, but among sunsets, not a very great one.

I packed up and started down the usual route on the west side of the mountain. It seems to be getting shorter too. Everything seems to get shorter, somehow, when hiked a few times. This one is also actually getting shorter because the switchback cutters are winning. There used to be a way to get down the last part to the trail junction without going straight down, but it wasn't apparent in the gloom. Just the down. I carefully made my way back to the road, only pulling off my gloves as I went. Then it's back to the car and dodging the various holes in the road.

trees on the ridge
The trees along the ridge in the gathering gloom, because I just happen to like these trees.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 12 Dec 2012


Scott Turner said...

Hi! Thanks for the great post on this hike. I'm hiking it next week, and this gave me a better idea of what to expect.

Valerie Norton said...

Well, thanks. I hope you are aware that the road is closed until around Aug 6 for repaving? See here for current closures in the Ojai RD.