Los Padres National ForestLocate the trailhead.
I signed up for another round of cleaning up microtrash at the former Gold Hill Guard Station with Los Padres ForestWatch, so head out to the site, but this time with a plan to fill in a few of the extra hours in the day since the cleaning is only from 9AM to 3PM. There is getting to be more hours of daylight, so there are plenty before and after. There's no real plan for before, but the plan is to find monuments and it is piecemeal. Waking up an hour early makes it make sense to do part before. The first piece is a boundary monument where the boundary makes a corner, so I pull over to the side beside the forest gate. This is actually already in the forest as the post is to the north and I passed the line when passing south of it. I head north along a road marked green and I could probably drive, but there is little point since it is only a quarter of a mile. A bit short of a creek, it is time to start looking for the monument west of the road. It is easy to find as there is a fat post next to it. Well, what is left of a fat post is next to what is left of the monument. It looks like someone took a hack saw to it and took it home.
|A cut off pipe that was probably once the boundary monument at this corner of the forest.|
There is another post just after the ford on Dry Creek, but this is a section of private inholding, so skip that and arrive at the guard station site to join the other volunteers for the work. It looks a lot better than when we started before. There are a lot of the same faces and a couple new ones this time. After a while, we move over to another area along the side of the spur to Kings Camp. (That is written up here.) When finished, a few of us continue to Kings Camp for the evening. I have two more monuments to find and head over to the Piru Creek OHV Trail by Gold Hill Camp. The trail is closed to motorcycles currently, so there is a high bar to step over. This one wanders past a monument just north of the camp. It is also easy to find, marked by a couple slapsticks faded to and pink labeled "property boundary". The monument between them has been disturbed, to say the least, resulting in major divots and tilting at a 45° angle.
|Severely bruised and looking nearly broken, but the survey marker is still here. Set by Ventura County in 1960.|
This could be the end of the hike, but there is more here to wander around. Continue along the trail and it dips into a creek and climbs to an open gate. Leave the trail and pass through the gate and there is quickly more evidence of humans as the old road winds toward the creek.
|A gate into a corner of the forest, with the slightly snowy Alamo Mountain rising behind it.|
|Some bits of metal that once had other materials around them.|
The trail passes along the top of a cliff giving a good view of Piru Creek below. The creek is running well, but none of the tributaries seem to have good flow. The falls across the way appear almost dry.
|The view up Piru Creek.|
|Looking down over Piru Creek with a bit of water in the flood channel and a family finishing up a bit of fishing. The tributary looks rather dry.|
There is what looks like a foundation along the trail and an abandoned propane tank far enough off to require a short hike to find out what it is, and then there is a mine. It has shelves at the front with jars and things and quite a lot of cave in at the back. The foundation may actually be a bit of shoring up for this tunnel.
|What looks at first to be a foundation of a removed building, but may be the pieces shoring up the roof in the mine.|
|The outside of the mine, which has a door.|
|Inside the mine has quite a bit more light than one might expect.|
After the mine, I head up the creek back to the trail I came in on. This route passes by some of the litter of people living. Following along the cliffs back toward Gold Hill Camp passes more interesting items including some mine related machinery.
|Some tinned fish and a can of something else along the side of the route.|
The next marker is the hardest to get to because it is a bit further down the trail and substantially more than a few feet off to the side. The trail that most closely accesses this one is the Gold Hill OHV Trail and the plan is to take it to a saddle, then cut back along the ridge to the marker, which is north of a low peak. How much north it is depends of which map you check. This trail is also closed, so I have to step over a high bar to start. The trail climbs steadily along concrete cobblestones laid to keep it in place when the rains come.
|Looking out, down the valley and up Piru Creek.|
|Concrete cobblestones reinforce the tread, at least until they get washed down the hillside. Gold Hill is in the background.|
At the saddle, the brush is a little thick, but there is plenty of room to pass along a deer trail. The deer do not seem to settle into one route and there are often choices to be made, but it is never hard. The deer have a little help, too, as evidenced by cans and bottles in glass and plastic along the ridge. Currently, it is just me and the deer using the trail. With a few short climbs and shorter drops, I have found the marker.
|Getting high enough up to see Pyramid Lake in the distance. Slide Mountain with its sometimes operating fire lookout is to the right.|
|The section corner post high on the ridge contains no monument.|
The marker turns out to be just a post with rocks placed around it. The washer down inside the pipe is so corroded that it is hard to even say that it is a washer, much less what was stamped on it. Above on a tree, there is a sign warning me that it is unlawful to destroy this post under penalty of a fine that would have been much more dear in 1909 when it was set. I still have plenty of time, so continue up to the local peak.
|North past Dry Creek is Frazier Mountain, the site of another fire lookout, but this one is being left to rot.|
After taking in my fill of what is a lovely mountain, it is time to return the way I came.
|Returning the way I came, just me and the deer using this trail for now.|
|Looking down over Gold Hill again.|
|Back at the trailhead locked against usage by motorcycles.|
|Sunset colors over distant, snowy mountains. Looks like Mt. San Antonio has the white head that gets it called Baldy.|
©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 11 March 2014