Los Padres National Forest
Ventura River PreserveLocate 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.
|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.
|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.|
|A long stretch ahead along the south face of the range as it approaches White Ledge, on the left.|
|Benchmark 21DF at 3007 feet above sea level and nearly 3 feet above ground level.|
It is a much longer stretch of ever enlarging views, when there is a break in the brush at the side, to the next table. One spot looks like it was the one I sketched at last year. A few feet past it is a second view with brush that would have been hard to see over while sitting and a few feet past that is where I started pushing through a bear tunnel instead of walking trail, so turned around. Today, there is no crouching although some spots are still narrow. There seem to be fewer scree climbs, but there are still a few, a couple of which are required to get around a brush pile, mostly.
|Some sections are just passable. It is at least twice as much work to make a more comfortable trail.|
The sixth table looks like it might be an even better campsite except that it is where the old road cut meets a gas pipeline. The trail has been cut to leave a warning sign dead center so it cannot be missed.
|The end of the road is just around the corner, then Ocean View Trail takes over to allow the traveler to traverse this ridge. The other direction shows Ojai.|
|A warning sign and a relief valve for the gas pipeline.|
The wind feels especially cold as the trail travels a west facing slope. The pipeline follows nearby as the road hits some saddles that offer exquisite views into Matilija and beyond. One last table is at a curve in the road as it turns back for a short way. The next benchmark should be somewhere nearby, but has not been found yet. There is some speculation it is the victim of a landslide. I think it is probably up the hill a bit. There are loppers and a log book on the table, so I grab a pair.
|Tree cleared not quite a year ago.|
|Panorama of the mountains beyond Matilija.|
The last group through was about 15 strong just the weekend before and they have done an excellent job cutting the entire road cut clear of brush. I do get the impression the trail just keeps on going until noticing that five feet in front of me, everything ends in a brush wall. A bit of work, really only about an hour, and I have cut a much narrower hole for 20 more feet. It now tapers into a bear tunnel. I would need a saw to widen it to the quality of the previous stretch. To some extent, I feel like I have put more feet on the brush pile than on the trail.
|A few trashed feet and someone had cut, but not cleared, some bushes to the side for an opening. Otherwise, a very abrupt end.|
|Now it goes a few feet more.|
Scratched up and a little itchy, I head back to the table to drop off the tool and have some lunch. The clouds have cleared a little and I notice the table is just high enough to see the edge of Pine Mountain rising above the closer mountains. It still has cloud cresting over it from behind. I also take a moment to climb up the edge of the road cut to see if I can spot a benchmark. The hill is covered entirely in manzanita, all about neck high. Crouching and glaring at the rocks underneath them is not sufficient to find the missing benchmark. Maybe the landslide theory is correct. The map shows the benchmark in the center of the big turn, quite a few feet off from the road at any spot. It also shows a smoother hill without the top of a ravine that lies in the curve now.
|Up on the hill above the road, looking for the benchmark, noticing Pine Mountain in the distance with clouds rolling over it.|
|A glance down the ridge line from here shows why the road does not follow the north side. It is much steeper.|
When ready, I head down again. The wind has settled down quite a bit now, but the day has not warmed up too badly at the high elevations.
|View out over the Ojai valley from table 6.|
|Now there are visible islands out in the bright water of the ocean.|
Coming to that first benchmark, I again take the older route down. There is a burned sign post next to it as the trail starts down. I remembered that the rout first follows over the little shoulders and peak rather than around as it once did, but forgot about the obvious but steep cut that must really be part of the original route. I can see a little tread heading right around the side of the last hill when the current route heads down a drainage. Cuts still keep the trail open to the last two yards that just have to be pushed through. This time I follow trails generally to the left along the small valleys back to the current trail and it is much easier to travel. One spot where left seems not quite correct, a ribbon directs me to a middle route that works well. It is warmer in the lower elevations, but cooling.
|Somewhere around the very top of Kennedy Canyon.|
The river is just as dry as before the little rain at the top of the ridge as I cross. Other than two people out jogging their dogs, I see no one on the way back.
©2014 Valerie Norton
Posted 24 November 2014