10 February 2014

Tequepis Canyon

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

The day starts with lovely clouds spilling over the mountains. It seems peaceful and idyllic until hitting the bottom of the pass where winds start buffeting the car around. I can only feel sympathy for the pickup dropping back behind me who is probably feeling each torque from the wind about four times worse. It would be fine if it was a constant gale, but this is intermittent blasts and requires constant recalculation. Hitting those cresting clouds at the top is initially a minor mist, but then becomes random blasts of heavy drops and so thick that most of the Cold Springs bridge is invisible even as I start down it. I'm worried I won't be able to see the sign when I emerge into gentle sunlight and everything is idyllic again. There is a turn for Outdoor School, location of the week long field trip we had in sixth grade, and then a sign with a V enclosed in a circle. I follow this symbol up to a large turnout with a small "parking" sign in front of the Circle V Ranch gate and park. The air is very cool as I walk through the gate and follow the trail signs through the camp.

trail sign in the middle of the camp at the Circle V Ranch
Walk through the camp gate and follow the signs inside to get to the trail proper.

a witness corner along the T5N and T6N boundary
I checked the 1995 map for what monuments might be along the trail, but didn't find any, such as this witness corner, to go looking for.

A locked gate on the far side of camp blocks vehicle traffic from continuing and a pedestrian gate allows me through. The road is wet from the weather and holds many footprints and a few bike treads. A road comes in on the left, presumably from the Boy Scout camp and Outdoor School, where there is a collection of orderly metal litter followed by a driveway on the right. After the driveway, it doesn't look like the road gets much use as a road and many sections are eroded, but a solid line of trail continues through it all. Soon there is a junction signed for Camino Cielo and the camps, but leaves the spur that makes this a junction unmarked. The creek crossings have somehow been drier than the trail, but I head down the spur to see the waterfall anyway.

deeply eroded section of road
A significant section of erosion along the road.

sign informing those of a claim
Apparently Seaboard Ohio once had some sort of claim on the southeast quarter section of T5N R29W S6, which is the area south of this sign.

signs at the junction that don't indicate a junction
The unsigned spur trail at the signed junction heads down to the stream and a waterfall.

The spur is a narrow route along an active water pipe and older, abandoned lines for a while, then drops down into the creek. It looks like it would be possible to continue along the pipes, but not for long. The detritus of decades of maintenance for these pipes can be found around the creek bed. An obvious route twists back and forth across the dry creek to the waterfall, which does have water coming over it. The pipes head just above the waterfall where the water is collected, reducing the flow.

eroded section of trail beside the pipe
The trail beside the pipe is also eroded in sections, but most of the tread is solid, and these rocks provide solid footing.

lady bug beetles collecting
Looks like the lady bug beetles are swarming again. These aren't moving in the cold of the canyon.

waterfall in Tequepis Canyon
The little waterfall in Tequepis Canyon. Probably where we went for banana slugs in Outdoor Camp (which we were encouraged to lick!), but there are none today.

The water vanishes into the ground at the edge of the pool below the waterfall. Heading back down the creek and back up to the main trail, I notice that the creak bed is not quite so dry as I took it to be. There is a pool of water below the climbing trail with little ripples that show the water is flowing through it. The trail climbs up through trees getting drier and leaving the few flowers that can be found in the bottom on the canyon. Soon, it is clear there is not just the usual change in vegetation, but that there is some different vegetation for the area as there is suddenly a fairy ring of red trunks. Quickly, the trees end too as the land gets even drier leaving tall and solid chaparral.

Cachuma Lake trhough the oak leaves
Starting to get some views of Cachuma Lake as the trail climbs up.

ring of trunks with red, pealing bark
A ring of madrone trunks is a curiosity with more following above. These are not manzanita although they have some distinct similarities.

the edge of the trees
The trees end and impenetrable brush starts.

The trail travels in long switchbacks around a ridge between two rugged canyons. It is empty today except for the makers of the bike tracks coming down (without bells) at top speed. It finds a few commonly moist spots as it climbs and a few more sections with trees. The spots that are dry today feel muggy from the evaporated water still lingering. The oaks up here are also odd for the area, having huge four inch leaves. One last set of very tight and short switch backs nearly finish the climb up to the fuel break at the top.

clouds over San Marcos land grant
A few clouds left to burn off over the lake and San Marcos land grant.

canyon to the east of the trail
A few of the cliffs that can be found in the unnamed canyon to the east of Tequepis.

upper section of Tequepis Canyon
A look into the upper section of Tequepis Canyon with the communications site of Santa Ynez Peak above.

some of the odd trees
More madrones and a few tanbark oaks with their big serrated leaves as the trail hits one last canyon area.

Hitting the top means getting an eye full of Santa Barbara channel. The wind was calm all the way up, but is quite stiff at the top. San Miguel has vanished in clouds and Santa Rosa is nearly devoured by more clouds, but Santa Cruz only has a few cresting its western edge and Anacapa is clear. My goal is Broadcast Peak, but I decide there is no reason not to go all the way to Santa Ynez first. Finding my way down to the road is a choose your own adventure, but I eventually manage to pop out beside a slapstick noting this trail is for hikers, bikers, and equestrians so I must have picked the right route, generally.

first view of the ocean from the fuel break
The view from the windy fuel break at the high point of Tequepis Trail.

Santa Ynez Mountains east of the trail top
The Santa Ynez Mountains extend far east from here.

upper trailhead of Tequepis Trail
The upper trailhead is a trench of dirt beside a simple sign with no adjacent turnouts. I missed it when I drove this road.

Taking the road west is quick. I walk right past the Gato Trail without seeing it, but forgot to be looking for it. All indications are that it is an artifact anyway. One truck passes with a couple happy retrievers in the back. At the eastern side of Santa Ynez, it looks like the fuel break is walkable, so I head up that way to the top.

looking down Dos Pueblos
Looking down Dos Pueblos Canyon.

looking down Gato Canyon
A look over Gato Canyon.

Santa Ynez Peak covered in transmitters
Clouds coming in over Santa Ynez Peak. The fuel break looks like a suitable route up.

The benchmark at the top of Santa Ynez has undoubtedly been bulldozed, but one reference mark remained in 1985 so may be here today. I did not check on that beforehand, so do not go looking for the reference mark since it looks unlikely anything would remain with the communications occupying the peak.

Broadcast Peak is called that for a reason
Broadcast Peak and another small peak between also serve as communications sites.

Tequepis Trail climbing the backside of the mountains
The trail is easy to see climbing up between the canyons.

I go down the same way I came up then climb up Broadcast Peak along the road. The peak is similar to the first except it has fewer clouds and more Metlife blimps passing by. The blimp cruses by fairly fast without a football field to hover over. I climb down the fuel break. The bikes came a little way up this way before turning back.

Cachuma Lake from above
A look at Cachuma Lake from up on the top of the ridge. The thick white line around the edge from the low water is very stark from up here.

The wind has picked up to a gale by the time I am back to the trail. Heading down, it is blowing and cold the whole way although the mountain does afford some protection. I find a more sheltered spot to sketch the lake that may not be in its best form right now, being quite low of water, but is the familiar lake of my childhood so long as it is low.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 11 February 2014


Qrtmoon said...

Nice views Valerie. What should you look for when turning off the 154 to get to the trailhead?

Valerie Norton said...

The turn is just after the Boy Scout camp, which has a big Boy Scout emblem painted on the sign. The speed limit drops to 45 MPH for the main Cachuma Lake recreation area and then there is a left turn lane. Take this turn and follow the circled V.

This trail is route 2 in Craig Carey's new guide book, starting on page 37.

Valerie Norton said...

Guess that sign on the Boy Scout Camp actually has a yellow cutout of the emblem. Just goes to show I have no memory for color if not paying attention. Anyway, the speed limit drop is easier to notice since you should be seeing that anyway. When headed "west", speed limit drops and you take the next left.