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.

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...