23 March 2014

Manzana: NIRA again

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3

(Day 3 of 3) Camp is much more full this morning and it is just volunteers now. Our only task is to carry the tools back down and get ourselves back safely. We are all a little slow after our big dinner. I guess I did not mention the big dinner. There was fire roasted bits of bread dipped in melted butter and given a bit of garlic salt and it dissolved into deliciousness in the mouth (and left plenty of residue on the hands). The meat eaters had a bit of mammal flesh, too. Beans and salad and beer rounded it all out. None of us lasted past 9PM, just like the night before, so perhaps we are not all that rowdy after all. We are not all that much slower and Mike is wanting to get an early start with the goats since Gunter started to get very slow the day before. Coming up, Nitro took his pack the last 2 miles. They are both about the same age. The rest drift one by one from camp, grabbing tools as they go. Folks seem more enthusiastic about carrying the weight down than they were about up, and there are none left for the last few to leave.

shadowed canyon of red rock with a touch of trail
Mike and goats vanishing into the bottom of a narrow section of canyon.

one large blue dick
Most the blue dicks out are quite small, but there is one above Manzana that is particularly blue and large. Although not many of each, there must be a half dozen types of purple flowers along the trail.

tiny yellow flowers
There must be another half dozen types of yellow flowers like these tiny common fiddlenecks. These are also flowering in a more conservative show with fewer flowers on a stem than usual.

There are a few creeks coming in from the south, and these all seem to have water although they tend to go underground just before getting to the Manzana. There are some more coming in from the north as well, and these all seem to be dry still. There just are not so many springs to the north.

sun over the canyon
Looking back up the canyon in the morning sunshine.

looking down the valley as it opens up
A look down the valley. The trail on the other side of Ray's Camp can be seen along the hill. The near tributary on the right is dry.

At the creek, I decide to sit and play with watercolor. The goats come by and Mike stops for a bit by the creek waiting for Gunter, then they go on to Ray's for a rest.

purple flowers around rocks
A bunch of those delightful 5 winged pinwheels that are prickly phlox.

Ray's Camp seems ready to be eternally shady, especially with the goats hanging out. Some seem ready to head off, but poor Gunter is still breathing heavily. I did not care so much for my portrait of rocks and stones and trees and ponder if a goat portrait will make me happier, but then decide to let Mike be. I have not noticed it so much along the wetter and shadier south side, but now that I am up in the sun scorched chaparral, the day seems quite hot. It feels like the distance to Fish has grown somehow. I pass two groups going out along the way and decide to have a look at the flow in Fish Creek. A well worn trail, easy to initially take as the correct trail out if one forgets it takes a corner at Fish, heads over to the creek, which is flowing nicely.

Fish Creek near the mouth
Looking up Fish Creek, which is flowing nicely. The tributaries from the south are wet.

After the brief section along the south side of the canyon, the trail is out on the hot north side again. Eventually, there are trees, but not soon enough. My water supply, decided upon based on the idea that today will be like yesterday, but downhill and not very long, runs out with 1.5 miles still to go. Eventually, mouth dry, I just have to get myself down to the creek and pump some more. It is a nuisance, but I am partial to never being without, especially when it is hot and I do not have to be.

looking down the Manzana again
Another view down the Manzana in the heat. The bush poppies are still blooming.

Indian paintbrush lending color
A bit of Indian paintbrush under the pines near Lost Valley. Closer to the camp, there are some peonies that are not yet blooming.

There is a prominent trail heading up from the main trail near the trailhead, and I decide to check out where it goes. Rocks along the side make it look to have been built. As it gets high, the brush closes in and I try a route that goes up the hill. This is erosion and bear trail. Coming back to the trail, there brushier section, still rock lined, along the hill and back down to the trail below. It is just another piece of the abandoned high route. Another prominent path just before the creek crossing goes into some pleasant trees and stops. All I find are a lot of beer cans to carry out. It seems time to finish the hike, so back across the creek and to the car.

(Potentially sad goat update: on the way from Ray's to Fish, Mike and the others were traveling forward about 50 yards and then waiting for Gunter, who at one point did not show for quite some time. Going back, he could not find the last goat. Gunter had decided to hole up in some shade. Mike decided to take the rest to Fish and tie them up, then go looking some more, but some clues made that seem unsafe. He decided to get the other goats to real safety and then look more. So far, he has not been able to locate Gunter. He has big, floppy, grey ears and has been a hard worker. Mike would like to know, either way, and has posted signs at the trailhead. If you are going, be on the lookout for a funny looking deer with a collar.)

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 26 March 2014


Steve C. said...

I always enjoy your take, Valerie. Glad I finally got to meet you.

Duane Waite said...

I was at Nira on Monday, and I heard about the lost goat from some people who were there. Hope Gunter makes it out ok!

Valerie Norton said...

Further Gunter update: After spending three weeks in the Los Padres, seemingly near Fish Creek where a mountain lion was working over the local deer population, he has been found just a little worse for the wear. He's now home to recuperate and may soon be retired to weed abatement, which sounds like excellent work for an old goat.