30 November 2014


This month saw a few more visiting parks in downtown, then some getting out to see more of the world.  Well, into the next county anyway.

A twisted bunch of a tree in the corner of Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.

Another view of the courthouse I spent too much time in.

A little bit south, or at least "city south", is the Persidio, which is a State Park even if it is deep in the city.

A rather nice flowering tree currently in flower at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.

The HPS group took a long rest to enjoy their peak once they got there, almost giving me enough time to sketch.

Taking an overnight on Camino Cielo gave me plenty of time to sketch after putting in an hour on the lengthening.

Back in a park, this time the county's, taking in the mountains from More Mesa.

21 November 2014

Ocean View: Camino Cielo

Los Padres National Forest

Ventura River Preserve

Locate the trailhead.

(Day 2 of 2) The rain stopped sometime very early in the morning and everything is already dry by dawn. The usual post rain wind storm pulled a stake buried in soft ground, making things a little less bomb proof. A fine dust coats everything. Once things start becoming pink, the sun is quick to the ridge line campsite. And once everything is tucked away, it is time to see if this trail really just keeps on going.

good morning, starshine
Sun rising over the edge of the ridge.

The trail is variously cut wide and narrow. The section just after table 4 is narrow and branches encroach a bit. The mountains rise faster than the grade and the old road is pushed out onto the side again leading to a change in the mix of vegetation and a more open trail. Table 5 is not much further than table 4, set beside the pedestal with the next benchmark embedded in it.

down the ridge
A higher peak starts to rise from the north side of the flat top of the ridge and the trail heads south around the edge.

20 November 2014

Ocean View: Kennedy Ridge

Ventura River Preserve

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

(Day 1 of 2) It has been feeling like time to hit Camino Cielo again. There has been quite a bit more cut and two tables dragged up since I was last along it. It is getting to be quite a long day hike, especially with the short days and the parking lot getting locked at 5PM. I am told that parking can be had along the street when not blocking a gate or driveway, but decided on an overnight instead. The threat of rain, 20% in Ojai which will be a near certainty on the ridge, was giving me pause until I hit upon a simple idea for pitching my rain fly without my tent. The rain is not certain enough to use as a water source, so I need to bring everything I will use. With an email to the preserve manager so the people locking the gate will not be waiting around or calling Search and Rescue for the lone car left in the lot, I am ready to head out. First, the river crossing. There is not much hope that there might be a trickle of water flowing along it, and that small sliver is soon dashed.

Ventura River
Crossing the Ventura River as it crosses the Ventura River Preserve. It is bone dry.

The trails are not signed for Kennedy Ridge at first. One must follow the arrows for Rice Canyon and eventually there are arrows for the ridge as well. They diverge as the one for the ridge points along a track by a creek that cuts up to a road above, follow the road shortly, then start climbing again. A large information sign as it leaves the road tells about the current state of the trail and warns against bringing horses up it since there are steep spots. They are not kidding about the steep spots. Climbing at first gives a view of the sensible houses up on the cliffs above the flood plain of the river, then a view of the less sensible people down in it.

Ventura River from the other side
Climbing up to the ridge gives views of the river.

16 November 2014

Beartrap Bluff

Los Padres National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

I may be getting predictable. Another weekend, another peak (or two or four). Our small band of Santa Barbara people decided to join another planned Hundred Peaks Section hike, this time up a newly listed peak they are calling "Beartrap Bluff". Checking the map, it looks like this one may suffer from the same shortcomings as a number of delisted peaks: it is indistinct. The ridge seems to have a wide top and higher and higher minor bumps dot it above this one. I am not even certain of which spot might be the destination based on the stated height. It is simply something above a massive V in the hillside west of Beartrap Camp. What is interesting to me is to finally travel the north end of the Gene Marshall-Piedra Blanca National Recreation Trail. The large group collects just after 8 AM and we are hiking up an unnamed canyon that drains Raspberry Spring and is full of cold air and a touch of frost soon after.

Cuyama badlands
Quickly gaining views of the Cuyama badlands to the north, which are quickly lost again.

hiking into the sun
A large group hiking into the sun.

09 November 2014

Slide and Dome Mountains

Angeles National Forest

Los Padres National Forest

What is it that makes a hike particularly enjoyable? Perhaps one element is a touch of the unknown. Something reminded me of my desire to finally see Slide Mountain, where I thought rather seriously about volunteering as a fire lookout. Partly because it is rather far away for a regular volunteering gig, I have never actually been up it. Slide Mountain does not offer much in the way of the unknown, though. The trail had become an overgrown mess, but since ANFFLA started using the lookout, they have also been maintaining the trail so a hike up it is . If I was going to do Slide Mountain, though, I also wanted to try to get to Dome Mountain. Dome sits on the county line and has a benchmark and getting there is quite uncertain. I suggested the trip, claiming it was dirt road, trail, and "easy" cross country based on my other cross country experiences in the area, but then walked it back a bit by pointing out we might not actually get there. Peter and Bernard said they were interested and so we went. We arrive at the trailhead, Bernard in jeans and some extra tough long sleeve shirt Garth gave him before hightailing it to Colorado, Peter in shorts and short sleeves, myself in long trousers with long gaiters and long sleeves packed away for later. Well, near the trailhead as we discover the first thing I am wrong about. The road is blocked at Frenchmans Flat leaving us with nearly two miles of paved old highway 99 to walk before even getting to the dirt. The place is full of cars, which is worrying.

crossing Piru Creek on the four lane highway
The footbridge across Piru Creek is a four lane highway with a two lane dam access road dropped on top of it.

first look at the lookout
Slide Mountain from the highway. The apparent large bush on the right of the two along the visible edge of the mountain is actually the square structure of Slide Mountain Lookout.

02 November 2014

Rabbit Peak, Graphite Mountain, Roundtop, and Iron Mountain

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Angeles National Forest

Locate the trailhead.

A couple people from the group who do the Wednesday night Sierra Club conditioning hike decided they would get back into doing Hundred Peaks Section hikes by joining a triple list finish. Like the conditioning hikes and the Friday social hikes, the HPS hikes are open to the general public. It is as good an excuse as any to poke around a part of the forest I have not seen much of and to visit the brand new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument requiring almost no planning on my part, so I joined too. Besides, I seem to be on an effort to tick off these peaks of recent and what better way to do so than on an official HPS trip with three people finishing off their lists while bagging four new peaks?

The group gathers slowly in Monte Cristo Campground. The air is almost frosty in the shady bottom of the canyon, but quite pleasant a little higher in the sun. We are already an hour after the start time by the time everyone has gathered and a little bit later by the time the usual waiver is signed by all. We start off as a band of about 30 people, expecting a few more to join on the final mountain, heading down the fire road that leaves the campground to the north.

six heads bobbing their way along the fire road
A small fraction (seven) of the group heading forward along the fire road.

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...