20 December 2012

Matilija, Upper North Fork, day 2

Los Padres National Forest

This is the second day, the first day is here.

Locate the trail head.

DAY 1 | DAY 2

The morning was chilly and the sun wouldn't come soon enough. A bit of noodles and a packet free of MSG but also too free of dried veggies with a handful of TVP does make for a yummy breakfast, but didn't seem especially energizing over the early part of the hike. I packed up everything useful for day hiking and started up the last bit of trail. This part of trail wiggles a bit excessively like the growing vegetation has pushed it around a bit. I expect it is the least traveled section, but except for sections of a few feet, the trail is distinct. The fall leaves do try to shroud it a bit. The campsite was ice free, but I quickly found a lot of ice along the trail.

fine feathers of ice in the sunlight
Some fine, feathery ice sparkling in the sunlight.

With lots of creek crossings, often without any apparent landscape derived reason, the trail makes its way up the canyon.

leaf ringed pool along the creek
The new leaves in the creek stack up against the old leaves that are themselves stacked up against the rotting leaves that make up a soil like barrier at the edges of pools, making an illusionary extension of the bank for unwary hikers to step on.

frost on maple leaves collecting like a bit of snow
Sometimes the frost seems to drift a bit and collect into something like snow.

I arrived at Maple, which is just off the trail. It is a little prettier and bigger and probably better used. It has a couple ice can stoves and one newer grill. The creek is noticeably smaller as it passes by. Although I could find frost at the trail, the campsite seemed a bit warmer and was ice free. A few beer cans remained from former brief residents of the camp.

solid grill at Maple campsite
Some of the amenities at Maple campsite.

After Maple, the trail sees heavier use. It starts up a (currently) dry tributary to the left, then starts climbing in earnest. Initially, it is quite steep. As it climbs, there is a view of more and more canyon, and eventually a bit of the ocean and Anacapa on a clear day. There were a few ticks below, and I'd flicked one off the day before, but the switchbacks were full of the things.

ice crystals pushing up bits of rock on the trail
Ice crystals forming from the water in the soil seem to be lifting weights in the form of small rocks on the end of each one.

cracked puffball mushroom
Higher on the trail, it gets a bit drier and the puffballs can be cracked.

initial look down the canyon shows a little fall color
Climbing a little way up the canyon allows looking down on a little of the fall color.

higher up, the ocean is visible as well as more of the canyon
From higher up, there's a lot more canyon and a bit of ocean beyond the ridge.

Eventually the trail flattens out a little and the views get obscured by the chaparral. The last bit of trail to the road didn't hold too much. More beer cans, shot gun shells, the odd bit of broken clay pigeon. The usual litter in certain places along out of the way roads although it has probably thinned out a little from what it was.

an eroded peak showing a lot of layers
A nice display of erosion on a peak in a northerly direction of the trail.

Arriving at the end of Cherry Creek Road, I found it to be very muddy and I sank a bit in some spots. A few tire marks on the road showed recent use. A bit of puddle in the turn around area was full of ice even though it was in full sunshine. I didn't stay long.

a bit of the road past the turnaround
The trail comes out at a turnaround that marks the end of the road for cars. Motorcycles may go further down the stretch photographed. The gate that keeps the cars from going further was not visible from where I was.

something hairy with six legs and a few of its friends
At first glance, some of the biggest, hairiest ticks you'd ever want to meet, but they don't seem to have quite as many legs.

I started down, stopping here to have a bit of lunch and there to have a bit of a draw. It was nice being in the sun and above the cold in the bottom of the canyon for a little while.

small, yellow plane
Although engine noise could be heard in the canyon many times, it always turned out to be some airplane.

more mushrooms pushing up through the forest litter
Another nice collection of mushrooms.

Getting back to Upper Matilija, I packed up the rest of my stuff. Then, weighing a fair bit more, I continued down the rest of the trail.

a bit of the trail above the first set of switchbacks
A bit of the trail as it makes its way high up the canyon wall above the first set of switchbacks.

the moon above some horizontal layers of rock
Rock layers go every which way around here, even fairly horizontal.

some nearly vertical layers
A spur of hard rock layers that no nearly vertical.

a pool along the creek
Getting back down to the creek and the pools and the crossings.

The lower canyon was already starting to freeze again.  Nearing the last campsite, it got warmer and stayed that way in the very low sections of the canyon.  The sun got low as I was hiking, and I found myself hiking the last bit of trail by twilight and the bit of road by moonlight. Happily, the moon was at its best lighting position and I didn't feel the need to pull out my lamp.

sun behind the ridges to the west
The sun dropping down behind the ridges to the west.

©2012 Valerie Norton
Posted 23 Dec 2012

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