01 February 2013

Hot Spring Canyon

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the (non) trail head.

Sometimes I find a dotted line on whatever USGS quad I'm staring at at the moment and then try to look it up to see what people say about the trail. Usually I find something, but for the line heading down from Camino Cielo along the side of Hot Spring Canyon on the 1995 Cachuma Lake 7.5' quad, I could find nothing. This quad has a few dotted lines along ridges that could really be fuel breaks rather than trails, and this shows some tendency to the ridge line. Still, those other lines were on the older maps and this on is new to the 1995. This one doesn't have a name or designation, which doesn't bode well for its reality, but the trail next to it that serves a well in neighboring Bear Canyon also has none but is likely real. At some point, one will never know unless one has a look. To that end, I decided to go do so, then it rained so I had to wait for the rain to finish and decided it would be a good plan to let the road dry out a little too. Once dried out, the road still seems to be rather poorer than it was in November, but found a route through the mess that worked out. I parked, rather badly due to a compulsion to park at the edge of the space rather than simply off the road, under the water tank by a closed road to take a look. I called AAA, who said they were coming and did a couple sketches waiting before calling again to find out they weren't really coming. Yeah, the parking was that bad, I dropped the front right tire in a culvert. I called for some different help to come later, then headed out for the poking around.

a little bit of old road past the 'road closed' sign
A pleasant stroll under the oaks to start off the route.

The closed road below the water tank isn't likely to be the route down the side of Hot Spring Canyon, but it is a spot with easy parking and an obvious trail heading down it. I might as well give it a quick look too. I started down finding it to be a very easy route at first. It quickly shrinks to a trail that leaves the old road bed to head around some growth, then joins again. After that, it shrinks again requiring a lot of crouching but no crawling required. And then it just ends.

the trail shrinks quite a bit
A much smaller bit of trail that requires crouching to continue down.

It looks like the route is being kept open by the random people who go to take a look when they are using the upper areas for whatever they like. You know, tagging the water tank, shooting at things outside of the sanctioned shooting range areas. I found a cigar wrapper at the end of the open trail, so I suppose smoking as well. There are some nice view spots along the way, although somewhat obscured by the vegetation.

the view across the top of Bear Canyon
Looking east along the ridges that drain into Bear Canyon.

the moutains to the north
A bit of the mountains to the north.

I headed back up again, satisfied that there wasn't anywhere to go. I'd got about 0.3 miles down. This is probably half way to the well.

some pink blooms
There are starting to be a few more flowers out there.

natural pond near the top of the old road
The natural pond shown on the map near the start of the old road to the well.

I started along the road looking for another trail headed off to the north. From the locked gate, it should be about half a mile to the trail. Once in the correct general location for a trail, I couldn't fine any. I did find a sign saying it was a fire line restoration area, a hint that there may have been a fuel break here that is no longer maintained. Further on, trails lead up to the top of the local peak. I headed up those instead.

somewhere out there there could be a route
Some lines through the brush can be seen where there might be a trail, but they are not trails.

a cut in the mountain to direct water
There are plenty of cuts like this on the hillside, but they are for directing water flow away from the road. None of them are trails.

view east along the road
Camino Cielo stretching to the east from one of the small peaks along its side.

view down the canyon to the ocean
The ocean with a little bit of marine layer giving it texture.

I headed down again, trying to intersect where there should be trail, if there is trail. I found some bit of path, but following it lead quickly to thick brush. I tried some other routes, but always came to brush. I followed the path back to the road, trying a little more to find trail. I crossed the road and took a path that would intersect where I'd seen a trail with a sign on it heading south. Nothing is on the map, but I might as well look at it too. It turned out to be another cut for drainage and the sign is just a yellow rectangle.

a bent up sign of unknown use
A sign along what looked like a trail, but turned out to be nothing interesting.

I continued back through the fairly open area that is currently used as a shooting range although it looks like the sanctioned areas for that are further east or west.

More blooms accompanied by some wicked spines.

shooting range, or at least used as such
The litter, mostly broken glass but also computers and furniture, of many many rounds of shooting.

Back at the car, I set to removing it from the hole with jack and the pointy end of the lug wrench. Two out of two Jeeps were not carrying a shovel and neither do I, so the lug wrench made a good digging stick to shift mud from under the frame to under the tire. I called my help to say I might get myself out on my own, but they'd already left so I couldn't reach them. Worried I might just spin the tire and dislodge all my mud instead of getting out, I waited for the tug and never found out if I could get on my own. The car popped out easily with only a dent in the bumper to show for the predicament.

looking into the afternoon sun
One last look out to the ocean, staring into the cloud shrouded afternoon sun.

©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 Feb 2013

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