23 June 2014

Romero Canyon

Santa Barbara front country

Locate the trailhead.

I decided to go up Romero Canyon again to get in a more substantial walk, but this time go wide instead of deep. Everything connects with everything else, generally, so there is much opportunity to go east-west instead of north to the top. I thought I would go along the catway to the top of Buena Vista stopping by the two benches that occupy little peaks on the way. After that excursion, I'd climb the road until it crosses the trail, then drop down the trail. Finding a parking spot is easy even though it is lunchtime since the trail is just far enough outside of the main city areas. There is a little wooden sign for the trail, but it is hard to see from the road and serves more as confirmation than guidance. The road is tightly locked up, but off to the side is a hiker entrance. It climbs quickly to a bridge with no water below it and the split with the Edison Catway. If I had not seen the grader sitting at the end of the road and walked on part of it before and after grading, I would not believe it had happened in the last five years. Plants are growing up all over it as it climbs through the narrow strike canyon westward. It climbs sharply, drops a bit, then climbs steeply again in an effort to find a place in this steep sided canyon.

looking around from the middle high point along the road
Looking up the canyon from the road before it drops some of that very hard won elevation.

At the saddle, the road turns south shortly and a spur trail continues southeast somewhat back the way I came, but still climbing. At the top, just over a mile along road and a hefty 750 feet above the trailhead, sits a stone bench with a lovely view. A much smaller trail leads off from the left side of the bench, apparently to climb the next little peak to the east. The narrow trail leading to the second bench can be seen making its way up a peak a half mile to the west. It is a good spot for some lunch, and it is that time, so that is what I do.

catway in the hills and Santa Barbara Bay below
The hill to the west with the second bench on it and the Santa Barbara Bay, with Sterns Wharf stretching into it behind.

hitching post for horses
A hitching post is provided for those coming up on horseback. The road gently climbing up the canyon behind it is Romero Canyon Road.

swallowtail on a white sign
A swallowtail alighted on a mysterious blank sign and modeled for a moment.

little Cars car in big Carpinteria view
The view of Carpinteria over the stone bench. The little car is a fun bit of geocaching: trackable items. This one came from Germany with the goal of getting to California. Another is well placed caches, like the one I left the car in, that lead one to little points of interests like this memorial bench.

After my nibbles, it is back down the spur trail to the road. From here, the road undulates gently to the pullout with the second spur. This one is a little harder to find since there is no saddle to help mark it, but I have been here before when looking for the BUENA benchmark. The trail is clear, but the brush is tall and closes in overhead. This bench is wooden and the brush is starting to overtake its view of the bay below. From the Buena Vista trailhead, this is also about a mile and an almost unreasonably hefty climb.

trail and catway in the distance
Across the canyon, the other side of Buena Vista climbs to the end of another section of catway. Behind it, the Edison Catway climbs out of San Ysidro.

wooden bench by a rock memorial
A wooden bench at the peak. A rock memorial sits behind it.

BUENA reference mark from 1927
The reference mark from 1927 is still buena.

I make one last excursion down the catway to the end. It is steep and this is pointless, but I have a collecting mentality and there is one more geocache to collect just past the end, 0.2 miles out of my way. Then I return back the way I came, skipping the spur trails.

bright yellow breasted finch
There are a great many bright yellow flashes of many finches fluttering back and forth across the road.

It is not far from the split with the catway past the flowing ford to the split with the trail. Here, I can climb along a gentle slope in the sun, or steeply in the shade. For many, the sun is the greatest motivator for their choice, but for me it is the slope. My most comfortable walk is actually a slight uphill. Turn it around and it becomes interminable and painful, so the slope is my greatest motivator and I keep to the gentle road. It loops grandly around the foothills in front of the eastern strike canyon, then over a saddle back into the Romero drainage with views all along the way.

prayer flags wrapping around the cord
The prayer flags look to have been replaced.

big houses in the hills
The view over the foothills includes many mansions on hills.

Once back into the drainage, the sights are dominated by the growth in the canyon. The sounds, however, are often from a pair of hikers or mountain bikers chatting which help pinpoint exactly where the trail passes through the thick vegetation below.

strike canyon
Looking from one strike canyon to the other. The Santa Barbara Bay is almost lost in the June mist.

Humboldt lily
One Humboldt lily with a single bloom and leaves red with death is trying to make it along the side.

thin flow over an old ford in the road
One thin flow of water can be found along the road.

rock lettuce or somesuch
These flowers never really look opened.

connected vertebre pieces
Two pieces of vertebrae still connected. A shoulder blade and some ribs connected to smaller backbones are nearby.

Coming to the trail crossing, there are a multitude of signs that all say "trail" and point every which way. A few short switchbacks drop me into the canyon bottom, then out again close to the road but far below. It flirts with the bottom a little more, then stays high above as the bottom becomes full of pools and running water. The water goes under some, but is generally there for the remainder of the hike.

signs everywhere
Trail down there, trail back that way, trail up there, trail off that way, and trail off that way again. I triumph of indistinct signage.

water flowing down
Downstream from just before the trail crosses the creek.

Just before coming to the road again, there is a well established trail that crosses the creek and starts to climb in tight switchbacks. I start to follow it, but do not really want to start off on an extra piece of hike of unknown length, so turn back and leave discovering its destination for another day.

well established trail
A well established trail, some nearby trees cleared with saws, climbing the canyon past a poison oak tree.

Then it is quick to return along the road again to the car. The road represents another side of geocaching. Sometimes people like to place them as close as allowed to form a "power trail". I guess it is fun for some to run up the numbers, but for me it feels like homework. Romero Road was nearly "full" until recently when one person retired his caches and came through picking them up. This has made it almost low enough density. Still, most of the caches have nothing nearby one might wish to draw attention to. Oh, but look, my collection of finds has almost reached 200. It is great for running up the numbers.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 24 June 2014

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