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.

Cuyama River
The canyon turns and we get views west of the Cuyama River.

The group strings out a little bit, but is mostly in a single pack. The trail climbs in spurts and gets into the bottom a bit as we turn up a small drainage. We gather again at a saddle just before starting down another short drainage into Reyes Creek. A group of boy scouts hike out past us as we rest and we quiz them on their trip as they go by. The trail drops a little and plays in the bottom of this drainage too. For a short section, we battle willows and gooseberries before arriving in Upper Reyes Camp among cedar trees. Somewhere, I can hear water flowing.

Reyes Creek
A first look down into Reyes Creek.

willows turning yellow
Willows turning yellow mostly stay out of the trail. Thorned gooseberries bearing fruit are not so polite.

Not far past the campsite, we cross the creek and come to a second campsite. From here, we are climbing again.

Reyes Creek
Reyes Creek is running.

campsite at Upper Reyes Camp
The second campsite at Upper Reyes Camp.

fall signal
A blaze of yellow in the bottom of the valley signals that we are in fall.

westward view
Looking back the way we came.

We climb again to a second saddle before dropping again, this time to Beartrap Creek. This drop is much further than the previous one. We travel upstream as we drop down into the canyon and the large V cut into the side is quite striking as we pass. We collect again in Beartrap Camp and there is a certain amount of lightening of the packs by passing out food before we start again. Water can be heard flowing here, but it vanishes underground just before the trail crosses it.

Switchbacks are faintly visible below through the trees as we travel downward again.

large V cut in the side of the canyon
The first view of the the large V cut in the side of the canyon that we will climb.

gentle down
The trail drops gently for a section as it travels along Beartrap Creek.

Beartrap Creek
Leaves rest on the clear pool at the end of the visible water in Beartrap Creek.

Beartrap Camp
Gathering at Beartrap Camp.

Once the group is ready again, we head back to near the creek crossing and continue along the side without crossing. A small trail is here and even smaller trails are visible on the tree litter. We gather again at the bottom of the sandstone slab and then start up it. Initially, we climb directly on the rock and our shoes stick to it nicely. Eventually, we make our way to the right hand side and continue up it. It is a long climb of nearly 1000 feet before things suddenly go relatively flat again.

climbing the sandstone
One way or another, we all go up.

view to the west again
Gaining a view as we climb the notch.

relatively flat
Coming out of the top of the notch.

We follow a shallow drainage across the rock garden at the top of the ridge until we are in view of the badlands again, then we turn northwest to climb a little further. An impressive boulder of sandstone looms before us and this turns out to be our destination.

maze of boulders
Making our way through the maze of boulders in the rock garden.

Cuyama River and badlands
The Cuyama River and surrounding badlands.

summit block
Coming to the end where there is a particularly large sandstone boulder in the rock garden along the ridge.

A few sprint to the top and get to be first to the register. A few others are hesitant to even try as this bit of sandstone is steeper than the previous slab although our shoes still stick to it well.

rock garden
The rock garden to the northwest.

the summit block
Claiming the peak and enjoying it for all it is worth.

ridge again
The rock garden along the ridge as it climbs to the southeast.

I get my chance at the peak and there is no denying that it is a fun little thing. It is surprising how much view we have from the top.

panorama from the top
Panorama from the top of Beartrap Bluff. (Click to embiggen anything, but if it goes to G+ photos, you may need to download to see it in full.)

the rest
The view from the top as where the group is clustering when not on the peak.

I almost get enough time to play with my sketching brushes after taking in the top before the group is headed back down. We keep more to the drainage as we go down, which I am a little unhappy about since the rock will be slicker where the water flows. I find a slick rock, but recover from it, then find another and after three steps fail to hang on, land on my back hard. The backpack serves as a great cushion for everything except an elbow and my ego. There is a line of pulverized skin along the bone below my elbow and it takes a while to figure out it is in pain, but it gets there. We continue to work our way down to more stable land, gather again at the creek crossing, and then hike out.

looking west
After the climb out of Beartrap Creek, dropping back down to Reyes Creek. The south facing slopes have much different plants than the north facing ones.

stone rabbit in trail
A stone rabbit comes out a little bit early.

©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 18 November 2014

1 comment:

Derek (100 Peaks) said...

Thank you for sharing these trips. I am definitely missing LPNF since I moved back to San Diego.