31 December 2013


A couple sketches during the month:

Another of Whiteacre Peak, but from the other side in Squaw Flat.

The sun was high but showing sunset colors over Montecito Peak.

Gaviota Ridge

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

To finish off the year, I decided to hike the Santa Ynez Mountains above Gaviota. The plan is to go past the hot spring to a random peak with a marker. There are many trails shown on the map around this far western section of Camino Cielo with one headed past another spring. This looks like it could be interesting if the trail actually exists. Heading back, I'll hit the peak and make an attempt at Tunnel View Trail with a short excursion to find another monument. The route out to Posta and back is supposed to be 10 miles, so this should come in around 12.

There is no one in the parking lot as I arrive at the trailhead. It is still a $2 parking fee for this spot in the Gaviota State Park. Hours are 8AM to sunset, but it doesn't look like the gate has been closed in years. The morning air is very crisp, but starting up the climbing road soon makes it very comfortable. The stink of sulfur comes on quickly, but then fades again. At the fork, I take the left side for the first time. I suspect the trail goes through somewhere again, especially since there's a nice road cut there for it to take, so turn to stop by the hot spring. Maybe it is the contrast of cool morning air instead of warm afternoon air or maybe that stink of sulfur below was a great big burp of hot water, but the tubs feel like they're at the perfect temperature for lounging again. Someone's forgotten their socks by the side. Continuing along the trail, the spring house has water coming from it again. It turns out the trail does indeed go through again, about halfway between the old use trail route and the road cut.

The tubs at the Gaviota Hot Spring
Two tubs have been built at the Gaviota Hot Spring, which seems to be nice and warm again.

Gaviota State Park across the freeway
Much of the rest of Gaviota State Park that also lies on the west side of the highway.

17 December 2013

Montecito Peak

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

It's a beautiful day for an afternoon wander up to a local little peak. Clouds dot the sky delightfully, but the islands are just a bit murky as I head to the Cold Spring trailhead. There's a group of backpackers creatively slinging average sized loads in and around small packs in the parking lot, somehow looking more capable than the average person jury-rigging a load. There's a little bit of water crossing the ford as I turn up the trailhead nearest the creek, but the bench at the junction with the trails up the other two forks seems to be looking over dry creek bed. In a section where the trail climbs up past a hard rock layer, water can be heard falling a fair distance far below, but can't be spotted. There is water again at the pool above the creek crossing.

a little waterfall into a pool suitable for splashing
A little bit of water is coming down Cold Spring Canyon.

It is getting easier to miss the trail just after the second crossing where it heads a little downstream and starts to climb but plenty of feet have started upstream. The backpackers have briefly caught up and half the group starts up it before one in the other half calls them back. I notice one hip belt has been turned into lashing straps and cringe a little. They stop to make adjustments as I climb the trail up out of the canyon. A guerrilla trail along the way is marked "route closed" with a slapstick. The cute scattered clouds have brought friends and the sky has a nice texture, but nearly covered. Below the sun, the light is bending just so to bring out sunset colors even though it is still some time until then. It makes the climb up to the Edison Catway rather nice.

sky bright up high but with red tinges along the edge
Looking out to the harbor, there's a little bit of red ringing the edge of the world. It has an evening look even though the sun is still quite high.

06 December 2013

Squaw Flat

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

There's a sign in Fillmore that says "Forest, thata way" and it's time to stop ignoring that. Dough Flat seems a sensible spot to go dipping a toe into this area, with no difficulties except that the road is "impassible when wet", possibly "rutted", and probably "closed for the season next Monday". With rain coming, the time is ripe to check it out. I decided to head toward Ant Camp and loaded the GPS with the possible location of a couple monuments in case I didn't feel like I had time for a long hike. Twisting along the dirt road around the side of the mountain does take quite some time, especially if heeding the 15 MPH speed limit. It turns out the sensible person with FWD and 6" clearance should turn around about 1/4 mile from the last gate where the first ruts appear on a bit of a slope. I give up on the road in a spot of good road just big enough to turn around in between another set of ruts up a steep hill and a lumpy section where a wash crosses, then park below a little waterfall with the suggestion of water coming over it just over half a mile from the end of the road. The hike up the rest of the road is quick and shows one more spot that would be a serious challenge to drive in a short vehicle. It can't be too tough, as a couple of guys in camo are unloading a couple donkeys before getting them into a horse trailer they got up the road as I get there.

a little waterfall by the side of the road
Starting the day by a little waterfall with just a hint of water.

Just before the Dough Flat turnout at the end of the road, there's a short trail up to a condor observation point. The trailhead has facilities and slightly shot English signs with the Spanish left unmolested. The road bed continues with a substantial blockade on it marked with the rules of the wilderness: no motors and no bicycles. The trail is almost entirely marked with shod hooves. Around the hill, there is an old wooden wilderness sign.

Sespe Wilderness sign
Heading into the Sespe Wilderness.

30 November 2013


Not many drawings this month while I've been challenging myself to paint something fully from memory or imaginary once a day throughout the month.

Up on Rocky Pine Ridge with an oversubscribed Sierra Club hike.

24 November 2013

Mount Lowe

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trail head.

Mount Lowe may not be the highest in the area, but it certainly has a centralness to it. I promised the folks at HIKE the GEEK a six mile round trip with a bit of elevation change and got three takers. We met at Red Box and drove up the last half mile to the start at the road up Mount Disappointment. Crossing the road from the parking, we start up the trail and get to climbing quickly under the cover of oaks with a few pines thrown in. Switchbacks overlooking the San Gabriel River's west fork carry us further and further up until finally meeting with the road again.

overlooking west fork San Gabriel River
Looking northeast, we see the west fork of the San Gabriel River as it winds east. The now closed road passes a few old car camping sites including Valley Forge. The ski areas in the background seem to have a little snow.

Strawberry Peak and environs
In the direction of Strawberry Peak across Arroyo Seco, there seem to be a few more snowy tops in the far distance, perhaps Pinos and the closer Sawmill.

18 November 2013

Cienaga Canyon

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trail head.

I decided to head out to the current end of Templin Highway again to check out a little more of the extreme western section of Angleles. The excuse for this one is to search out five Public Land Survey System markers, all witness corners, that rest in the bottom of Cienaga Canyon, mostly along Castaic Creek. They were placed before 1958 (Liebre Mountain 7.5') as they can be found on the quad from then. Otherwise, I know nothing about them. I loaded up some guessed locations into the GPS and made a plan of attack. I would follow the canyon up, pausing from time to time to stomp through the undergrowth on the side looking for a monument, then follow the old road back down. This road was reduced to a trail in more recent maps and has been mostly removed from the 1995 quad. Still, the route up the ridge and back down can be seen from satellite, so I'm pretty confident I can follow it. The canyon bottom seems to have a bit of trail as well, although that can be an illusion.

There's plenty of traffic for the lake, but no one is parked at the end of the highway. I get packed up, a task involving far too many bits of backtracking to grab a thing I'd forgotten but finally managing to be prepared, and head down the last of the pavement to the bridge across Castaic Creek. On the far side of the bridge, a road wanders past the stream gauge and starts up the canyon. I head down it for some easy initial travel. There are many footprints already on it, some of them quite crisp. Someone has camped under the trees just past the gauge, but not recently. It's a good start to what might prove to be a long hike, but just past the stub of a gate that probably marks the end of the county's inholding around the lake, I find the first washout.

the county's stream gauge, very dry
Still nothing for the county's stream gauge to measure. That tamarisk can't help.

all that is left of a gate that is no longer needed
The base of a gate at the edge of a big washout along this old road.

The washout isn't too hard to cross and at the end there is more road and more easy travel. There is another washout before the first ford. The ford is delicately eroded over the top and terribly undermined at the bottom, but still has a depth gauge so you can see how crazy it might be to try to cross the stream in a flood. The high tension wires crackle above and an old car frame rusts, bringing together a collection of the ways civilization affects the remote outposts it passes through. Eventually, the road is washed out again and stays that way for a while before a second ford just below an old stream gauge. Past this, there is not a lot of road in the canyon.

Ford along Castaic Creek
The old ford still looks usable. I don't think I would want to if the water was high enough to register on the depth gauge on the right.

06 November 2013

Thorn Point

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

After reacquiring permission to head up to Thorn Point to attend to the trees crossing the trail, we gather at the intersection of Lockwood Valley and Grade Valley, the ranks shrunken to only four. I have never been on one of these, but will still get to hold onto the big saw under the watchful eye of someone who is certified to the correct level. We call into service and head down the road, which is looking excellent if ignoring the first, and currently only, water crossing which is an ever deepening bowl of slush. There are a couple hunters out actually hunting, but no one is parked at Thorn Meadows. We get out the tools and have a safety talk. It is extensive, and boils down to:
  1. Respect the saw, especially the teeth, for they are long and sharp and will bite if given the chance.
  2. Respect the ax, and always swing it so that if it deflects, it must go through some great obstacle like a trunk or the ground to get to you.
  3. Respect the tree, for it may suddenly try to fight back in an unexpected way.
  4. Check for death from above before sitting down below.
  5. Communicate everything.
There's obviously quite a few details that go into each of those, like not placing yourself in a position where the saw teeth could rake across a body part even if it seems unlikely to be able to reach. With paperwork signed and safety gear tallied, we start up the trail and into the Sespe Wilderness. The trees come quickly. My first thought at hearing about a crew going up the Thorn Point Trail was, "That trail hasn't got any trees on it," but when I get there, the thought changes to, "Oh, right, THAT tree." The first one is huge. It has a hiker trail going down the slope a little way and then under it and a second that goes down a little further and over. We scope out the local hazards and settle into the work. First, we clear the trail of debris and remove all limbs hanging over it, then we get out the big saw and get to work on the tree itself.

tree trunk stretched across the trail with many limbs removed and a few more vanishing
Ax and Silky saws for limb removal on the trunk prior to trunk removal. The collapsible McLeod in the foreground is quite nice, too, although we aren't doing any tread work.

31 October 2013


Sketches from this month...

A star fish on the beach.

The lake from up on Camino Cielo.

A piece of the ridge with the Castro Motorway passing through it.

Whiteacre Peak, I think, from near a random benchmark near the edge of the forest.

28 October 2013

San Gorgonio: High Meadow Springs to South Fork

San Bernardino National Forest

San Gorgonio Wilderness

Locate the trail head.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

It was a cold night. Sometime early on, wind had found its buddy fog and together they froze an amazing among of ice onto the south facing side of everything, thicker as it gets higher. Chunks of ice lie around my little roof, having been shaken from the trees by that same wind. The ice doesn't look in the mood to melt, but my water hasn't frozen inside my shelter.

trees plastered with ice on one side
The view from under my shelter out into the stiff wind and fog shows trees heavy with ice on the south side.

27 October 2013

San Gorgonio: Limber Pine Bench to High Meadow Springs

San Bernardino National Forest

San Gorgonio Wilderness

Locate the trail head.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

The night was cold, the morning is cold. The camp is devoid of the sounds of people getting up, but I'm pretty far from the other two groups. The water in the Platypus isn't frozen and I eventually get up to turn it into breakfast. The new pump refuses to add any pressure to what is already in there, but the stove goes just fine after four matches fizzle and a fifth lights. After breakfast, the last layer of washing water left in the pot freezes to it. I'm wondering if it could actually be getting colder as the sun gets up when the sun finally starts hitting the camp. Once it gets to me, the neighbors who got it first finally emerge. The sun instantly heats the place to the point I don't need my jacket anymore.

Limber Pine Bench
Some of the area of Limber Pine Bench with one of the rock walls that grace the south face of the numerous flat spots.

The big group is a bustle of activity tearing down their camp as I pass. I get some more water at the spring before heading further up. The day is clear. There's a small spur trail to a view that I can't help but take.

Forest Falls below and the mountain far to the side
Looking down the ridge on the Forest Falls side to San Gorgonio.

26 October 2013

San Gorgonio: Forsee Creek to Limber Pine Bench

San Bernardino National Forest

San Gorgonio Wilderness

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

Wanting to hit the initial points near one end of the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail and San Gorgonio Mountain at the other, I decided on a loop starting at Forsee Creek and finishing at South Fork. With the last bit of walking to connect the ends, it looks like about 35 miles of travel. I didn't like the way the second day was working out when insisting on camping by water, so settled on an easier four day plan giving much more time for wandering up all the peaks and searching for all of the initial points. Most of the hiking is in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, so I stop by the Mill Creek Ranger Station on the way up to get a permit. They have quotas to limit the number of people in the wilderness, implemented mostly by campsite for backpackers to keep the sites from overflowing. My desired sites are all available, so getting the permit is painless. Stoves are currently allowed, unlike in the local forest. Excellent, because it's cold out and I want some warm dinner and breakfast. The road up to the trailhead from Jenks Lake Road is signed and a touch on the rough side.

fall colors on the black oak
The black oaks are showing off their fall color.

San Gorgonio Wilderness Boundary sign
The wilderness boundary at 7000 feet.

The mountain has a dusting of snow remaining from the first storm through. The black oaks stand out sporting yellow foliage among the evergreen pines and cedar. The trail starts at 6920 and climbs quickly to the San Gorgonio Wilderness Boundary, then splits to climb to the ridge on the left or contour and climb to Johns Meadow on the right. Heading right on the smaller trail gives a rolling walk through the thick trees. A few more yellows join the black oak leaves.

lots of yellow spots out in the valley to the north
Fall colors in the Santa Ana River valley.

22 October 2013

Townsend Peak

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trail head.

It's cooling down, a little anyway. I decided to head over to Townsend Peak in the Los Padres administered area of Angeles National Forest. The peak itself isn't much, but there's plenty of trail behind it to check out, including quite a bit that was removed in the 1995 Whitaker quad leaving mostly fuel breaks. There isn't much for destinations unless one hikes through to Lake Piru, but I picked out a few monuments of various sorts to try to find. I'm sure I'll find something nice to look at along the way. Unfortunately, the printer insisted on rendering my map badly into black and white, leaving out the red, to increase the challenge.

Access off the 5 is simple. Just get off at Templin Highway and head to the old bit of 99 on the left. A left on the Golden State Highway doesn't leave a lot of road, but there's a strip of dirt after the "end" sign. Let the water tanker pass and then head up it a short way to the gate and park without blocking it. Why is there a water tanker? To supply the sprinklers that are running behind a little hill. Ask a silly question... the driver of the green truck a little down from a second water tanker probably knows why a little bit of dry forest land needs to be watered. There's another sprinkler head in a turnout next to the gate, but it looks like someone parked on it. Tread marks continue past the gate, but so do quite a few footprints. The footprints show a wide variety, it's not just one person coming up from Castaic on evening hikes. It is surprising to see so many, but it is hunting season so a lot of footprints can be found in surprising places. There's actually a couple flowers in bloom at the edge and a pull tab Royal Crown Cola can somehow still dressed in blue. (I missed that one on the way down, if there are any collectors.) It's a smooth climb to a tight corner where the view opens up down Canton Canyon and the tire marks turn around. Hill after hill after hill stretch out into the distance. The land gives an impression of being soft even as it stiffly holds steep drop offs.

Whitaker Peak on the other side of Canton Canyon
Across Canton Canyon, Whitaker Peak rises just a little higher, from this viewpoint, than the surrounding prominences. When I hiked to it, I first went up the ridge on the right, then to the end of the road and followed the ridge from one of the communications sites behind it.

hill after hill after hill building to mountains
Row after row of hills building to some tall mountains. The land isn't all steep.

13 October 2013

Castro Motorway

Malibu Creek State Park

Locate the trail head.

After the morning hike, I decide to go up to Upper Solstice Canyon where I can finish off the last bit of a loop I started in 2009. Going past the entrance to Lower Solstice Canyon, I am reminded that it is actually a part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area by the locked gate across it. Some of the users of the overflow parking don't seem to realize the road does go somewhere and present minor obstacles to passage. Up at the end of the road, there is plenty of parking, so a grab a spot and start up Castro Motorway, the continuation of the road. At first the views are quite tame, but once up to the top and the north side opens up, they become excellent, if a little difficult to see.

southeast along the ridge
The Backbone Trail passes through the parking lot heading over these rocks to the southeast and should head along the motorway, but it has to reroute down into the valley instead.

view into the valley below
Looking into the valley to the north.

the fire road as it curves around the top of the ridge
Lovely rocks litter the top of the ridge.

Rustic Canyon

Topanga State Park

Locate the trail head.

Although not officially a hike of the group, a number of the LA chapter of HIKE the GEEK collect themselves on a street corner in Pacific Palisades to hike into Rustic Canyon from the Sullivan Fire Road with a few extras who were actually organizing the hike. Coming in from the fire road gives a little easier route than the usual from Will Rogers State Historic Park. When we're all good and ready, we start down the fire road past a gate and dodging a few cars on their way to the boy scout camp.

overview of the area up the canyon from where we start
The area up Rustic Canyon from near the start of the hike. Sullivan Fire Road curves its way along the upper right of the canyon.

After a short while climbing slowly along the fire road, there's a whole in a fence where there might have once been a gate. Turning, there is a short bit of trail, and then a long flight of steps. The steps are short and shallow and, of course, without handrails as they drop very nearly to the bottom of the canyon. The vegetation grows up higher as we descend lower, removing the view out over the canyon for a close tunnel of chaparral.

long stairway back to the road
Endless steps, or so it may seem when climbing them.

08 October 2013

Camino Cielo

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

Heading back to the Ventura River Preserve, but this time to the Oso Trail Head, gets me into the prime location for hiking Camino Cielo, at least as far as it has been cleared. This one is a little harder to find, with a small sign by a small opening in a gate. Other signs warn the gates will be locked at 7:30 PM until October 31, after which it will be even earlier, and I'll just have to wait until morning if I'm too late back. We don't make our mini lions fast every Thursday like the zoo, so it seems like a good idea to get back before their tummies get to too much rumbling. Anyway, it's not Thursday. Packed up, I pop through the fence and onto a bit of trail. Following the signs for Rice Canyon, I jog over to the right where a road crosses the dry river stones and climbs out the other side. On the far side, this ends in another road that is blocked to the north. Heading south, it quickly splits to cross a blocked and mildly dangerous looking bridge with a fill bypass. Thinking about how building during the draught tended to ignore the creeks, I have to check. There is no pipe under the fill for the creek to go through during the next rain. Chuckling, I head the other way and finally realize that the stand of well ordered dead trees on my right is the old orange grove that will be removed eventually. A few more twists past more constructed items and over a walled creek diversion, I finally get to a sign for Kennedy Ridge.

many dead trees all in a row with natives starting up around them
Wilted leaves on a half dead tree are distinctly orange like. The other trees stand as cracking skeletons in their rows. The natives are taking over in between I had already passed a healthier tree with two sad, small oranges on it before this, so wasn't being all that observant.

preserve signage
Finally a new route to follow: the Kennedy Ridge Trail.

Kennedy Ridge is a smaller line of peaks in front of the main ridge. An old trail runs along it and along the canyon behind it, giving access if the roads to it are accessible. (See the Matilija 1995 7.5' USGS quad.) A line like a fuel break extends down the south side and the current access roughly follows this up. After a short walk along the light red dirt of the well maintained Rice Wills fire road, I start up this trail past a kiosk. The trail is off limits to horses for the safety of the horses. It seems passable to the second picnic table and dried road apples and a few horse hairs show people have taken their horses up it, but it will not hold up to horse travel. Actually, some of the switchbacks need a bit of work to hold up to people travel. Climbing the trail that initially seems unsure that it wants to climb rather than wander soon gains good views out over the Ventura River and Wills Canyon.

Wills Canyon
The easy hills around Wills and Rice Canyons. A little of the light red road is visible.

07 October 2013

Honda Valley

Santa Barbara city park

Locate the trail head.

The city has a few large open spaces kept as parks. One such park is the just over 20 acre Honda Valley. Oddly, the city web site does not list it under the open spaces, but it is signed as such. The park is open from sunrise to half an hour after sunset, although there are no gates to enforce that. It runs much of the length of the valley, with many areas shaded by oaks and eucalyptus. It is much less used compared to the other open spaces, at least in my experience, and can harbor actual wildlife. I found a fox on my first visit.

open space signs and trail
Entry to Honda Valley directly from Carrillo is along a narrow, undulating path and is signed.

Entering from Carrillo near the top of the hill puts one high on one side of the valley and gives views of the mountains and some of the homes that ring the edges, mostly right at the top. The narrow and well established trail passes through ice plant, then into native vegetation. It gets into some oak trees, then a short switchback brings it down to the main trail, a wide road, coming from Miracanon. It continues under oaks, then eucalyptus.

nice, big oaks around the road
Big oaks cover the hillside and line the road.

03 October 2013

Thorn Point

It is time to leave for Grade Valley, where I will meet with a group of volunteers to help cut through the nine trees that are currently on the trail to Thorn Point.  Well, I would be, if it weren't that volunteers are not free.  Even when the forest has been cash strapped for so long that they now have well trained volunteers to wrangle their volunteers, volunteers are not free.  While we are working, we keep dispatch up to date on our status, but the skeleton crew at dispatch need to focus on the skeleton crew of fire and law enforcement left in the forest.  While we are working for them, the Forest Service insures us on their own self insurance.  If we get hurt, it is a new bill to the Forest Service, and they are not allowed to run up new bills so they can't take the chance of having us work.

30 September 2013


Sketches for the month of September were a bit more plentiful, at least in the second half of the month.

Sketch made while at the waterfall in Cooper Canyon.

One while sitting on the breakwater of the harbor.

Down on the beach on a foggy day when we had a massive cruise ship in the bay.

Up on the hillside just after entering Honda Valley as the fog is breaking.

Sitting on Arlington Peak when the water looked a bit low.

Hanging at Reyes Peak again.

29 September 2013

California Science Center

Los Angeles

Deciding to go to see Endeavour doesn't take long. Sung and I arrive at the California Science Center in time for an early showing of Flight of the Butterflies, which is the first time I've watched an IMAX movie and the first time I've watched something in 3D. Yes, I seriously haven't indulged in either of these before. Shuttle viewing is free with the movie. (It is also free without the movie, but they try not to mention that.) I manage to arrive without my camera, so all of these photos are taken by Sung Byun. We park right next to the SR-71 and Sung is already happy he came. It means nothing to me, so he tells me of listening for the sonic boom every day as one of these would take off to fly over North Korea and Russia. We have plenty of time before the show to check it out.

A massive chunk of titanium. Okay, I have to admit that this does look like a pretty special plane. It does Mach 3 and seems to be all wing. This is the training model with room for an instructor as well as the pilot.

28 September 2013

Dome Springs Campground

Los Padres National Forest

We head down the mountain in the morning to join with some folks from Habitat Works and take out tamarisk that are invading the Dome Springs area. There are many invasive species trying to crowd out our native plants, but this Asian plant is set apart by its incredible ability to suck water out of the ground. Although capable of surviving without any water for half the year, it takes up water at a rate far in excess of other plants when it can get it. Of course, salts from the ground also come up with the water and the plant tends to increase the salinity of the soil around it, which is part of why it gets called a salt cedar. The soil becomes too salty for other plants long before the tamarisk is bothered.

To get rid of them, we simply cut off the tops. Unfortunately, they are very good at growing back. Spraying herbicide on after will decrease grow back quite well, but just cutting it a few times in the year will eventually be effective. We head out the back side of the campground to the boundary of the Chumash Wilderness and start our hunt of tamarisk by heading up the drainage.

a dry creek in the badlands
Behind Dome Springs Campground, we seem to be in an interesting landscape.

heading up the stream and hunting tamarisk
The hunt for tamarisk, heading up the dry creek.

27 September 2013

Reyes Peak

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trail head.

The 28th is National Public Lands Day, which comes with free entry to the National Parks and free parking in the local forests and quite a lot of trail projects. Finding out about the trail projects is a little hit or miss, but I gather it will likely get better in the near future. I decided to join one that was planning on working Boulder Trail, ending up with groups working a little more trail and removing tamarisk in the badlands.

I head up Friday to camp out at Pine Mountain before the work and hit it a little early to give time to see the sights. The newly paved road feels narrower, but does make travel a lot easier. At the end of Reyes Peak Campground, the tar road ends and it is back to the familiar for the rest of the way. The sign at the end has gone missing and there is plenty of parking around the loop at the end of the road. I note the trail head kiosk is repaired as I start along what is left of the ancient paving that has been preserved behind it. As the road drops and the Reyes Peak Trail breaks off to the north of the peak, I start up the old trail to the peak. At least I try to follow the old tread instead of the use trail that cuts a path up the edge, but fail along the thick layer of pine needles that are worse for walking than shown. After the initial steep climb, the trail settles down as it more faithfully follows the old tread.

a bit of the ridge
Rocks and trees along the top of the ridge.

24 September 2013

Arlington Peak

Santa Barbara front country

Locate the trail head.

Down below the main ridge of the Santa Ynez Mountains that make a backdrop for the city of Santa Barbara, there are a few shorter peaks that jut out. They stand obviously shorter than the short mountains that don't even break 4000 feet in the part behind the city. I tend to think of these peaks in front as, well, not real peaks. I don't think any of them have proper trails to the top. Most of them don't even have use trails. Still a few are named and a few are quite striking when viewed from the city. Cathedral Peak is both, which might be why there is a well advertised use trail that climbs its flank. Being "striking" can translate into "difficult" when actually climbing and this trail and this one is said to be class 2 and sometimes easy class 3 climbing. The difference may depend as much on lucky path choices as on the skill of the traveler. I decided to head up to it and, once there, maybe continue on to La Cumbre above and back down Tunnel Trail, depending on my water situation.

Grabbing a legal parking spot, I pound up the pavement to the trail head and then pound along some more pavement well past it. At the south portal for the actual tunnel, the paving ends. Mission Creek is like a desert wash above the road, so I skip the use trail along it and follow the easier catway route instead. Making the turns to head up Jesusita brings me back to the creek which still looks as though water is only a distant memory. Two trails head up from a dry pool just above the trail. The further one provides an alternative for those going to Seven Falls who do not want to rock hop up the stream. I head up the steeper first trail which provides a bypass of the falls to get to Three Pools as well as the route to Cathedral Peak. It is a quick and steep climb out to a bit of ridge and then generally along it and up.

down canyon shot, the distance looking a bit blue
Jesusita Trail stretches out to the right and a spur of the Edison Catway winds up on the left in the initial stages of climbing up to Cathedral Peak.

Steep climbs alternate with fairly flat segments. The bypass trail splits off on a fairly flat route to the right. Slowly, the various destinations available from the start of Tunnel Trail begin to fall away and the view widens. Often there are a couple of routes to choose from. I seem to tend to the left side routes as I go, sometimes deciding it wasn't the best after all but always managing the route. Sometimes, someone has stuck a load of sticks across the more attractive of two clearly visible routes, including forcing climbs where a walk will do. Turning a corner along the ridge, things start to get rockier and the upper section of Mission Canyon is spread out below. Far in the bottom, there turns out to be water after all.

upper Mission Canyon
A somewhat obscured view of Mission Falls. Tunnel Trail curls around the far side of the canyon.

22 September 2013

Douglas Family Preserve and nearby beaches

Santa Barbara

Locate the trail head.

It seems a good time to greet the new season starting today. Winds have come through and broken up the marine layer to the point that we might actually have a visible sunrise today. I head down to the beach to find out. Thousand Steps is my go-to point of entry. They give a little exercise on the way up and hasn't been under a pile of rubble for a while. They have been drier than normal and only a little bit slick. Not so much that they feel safe on the way down, but better than usual. Their number is far less than advertised, but in the summer the wet steps and close rock walls offer a cool climb. After dusk, their lack of lamps and unwelcoming nature to any outside light leaves them a threatening and cold cave. The last four steps have almost been worn to a ramp by the ocean waves and as fall takes hold, the sand will retreat from the bottom so that that ramp leads to a few foot drop off. No other beach access has quite as much personality as Thousand Steps. Of course, I come here for convenience, not because it threatens to break my neck, probably somewhere just below the landing.

pink sky and a light house
Up at the end of the street where the steps start down and looking west to the lighthouse and Coast Guard property. Dawn has long broken, but the sun is not yet up. The ocean reflects the pink sky when looking at it from here.

Ecological Staircase to the Pygmy Forest

Jug Handle State Natural Preserve Click for map. I noticed an Earthcache that looked interesting as it asks for study of an area wi...