Circle X Ranch
Locate the trail head.
Once again, the variable crew of HIKE the GEEK people gathered together to make a circuit of the Mishe Mokwa and Backbone trails. We managed to collect almost entirely at the same trail head of the two options and started off with a pretty big group. Up at the first junction, we made a right to leave Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica range, for last. This put us parallel to the road for a short stretch and able to see the other lot. It looked quite full, as did the one we were coming from. The trail would be crowded. The marine layer hanging over the beaches wasn't quite getting to us, so the day was warm.
|Looking down over the smaller, and quite full, parking lot. Why is there a bus? I blame rock climbers without any evidence.|
|Looking down the canyon with Echo Cliffs as part of its wall.|
|A cluster of expressive red flowers along the way.|
|Mariposa lilies in yellow and this variegated form could be found shaking in the breeze.|
We stopped to wait for one more in view of the Echo Cliffs, but a bit too far to watch the rock climbers who were getting started in a section where the chalk buildup could even be seen from far across the canyon. An umbrella set up even though they were still in shade made it look like they were settling in for the duration. Finding the last of our group, we continued on to Split Rock.
|A bit of the group threading their way along the trail.|
|Split Rock proved too attractive and a few popped right up the crack as soon as we got close to it.|
With a sprint and a climb, a few were up on top of Split Rock by the large crack that splits it. The hike sort of fell apart into hand stands and cartwheels and a little more bouldering for a while. A macaw came along, so we had to take a moment to admire its feathers. Then our hand stand trainer announced that he had commitments and so had to go back and we lost a group of four. The rest of us continued on, skipping the Balancing Rock spur and the continuation of trails beyond the loop.
|Taking whatever shade we can get as the trail passes through tall chaparral. The seedpods of these were popping in the sunshine.|
|One of the yellow Mariposa lilies.|
|Some of nature's large rock garden that covered the area.|
|Someone's much smaller rock garden.|
|Humboldt lilies. They looked very small, but maybe that is due to the unusually dry area they chose to grow in.|
We skipped the trail up to Inspiration Point but not the couple of lookouts very near to the trail.
|The Circle X Ranch constructions below.|
Wooden steps mark the spur up to the peak. Somehow, we lost a couple more people as we turned to climb the last few feet to Sandstone Peak. The rest of us had another good rest, but with fewer cartwheels, up at the peak.
|The road we rode in on and even the parking lot is visible below and very close at hand.|
|The urban sprawl of the Conejo Valley stretching out toward the grade on the other side of this patch of green.|
|We seven have been to the tallest point in the Santa Monica Mountains.|
We finally climbed back down to rejoin the last few who stayed on the fence by the start of the spur, then made our way the short way back out to our cars.
|A little bit of water in southern California. Undoubtedly artificial.|
|One last look at Balancing Rock and Echo Cliffs.|
©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 17 June 2013