29 December 2015

Burton Mesa Ecological Reserve

Vandenberg Village

I returned to the reserve. These photos are from walking around the area north of the highway.  There are various entries at the edge of the village.

flat and short
As with the area to the south, there are large meadow areas of short, leafy ground cover.

oaks sporting French beard
Stands of short oaks sport Spanish moss.

23 December 2015

Las Llajas Canyon and Chumash Trail

Marr Ranch Open Space




There seems to be quite a bit of hiking to the northeast of Simi Valley. For another foray into this territory, I have chosen another long loop with elements of canyon and ridge. This time, I am starting with the canyon so have arrived at the locked gate of the Las Llajas Trailhead at a break along the edge of a small house farm. There are a large number of other cars already here. Disappointingly, the road is paved. It drops gently down into the canyon past another paved road entering from the west. The pavement stops, for the most part replaced by mud, at the bottom before a second road enters from the west.

trailhead signage
Information and rules at the trailhead.

hilltop perch view
Surveying the canyon ahead from a small hilltop beside the road. Trail up the hills seems to be public, but connects behind a "no trespassing" sign on the gate below. My route is up the canyon to the right.

15 December 2015

Bouquet Canyon

Angeles National Forest




Every once in a while, I hike a little bit more of the Pacific Crest Trail. I got a few more miles of it recently and decided on 0.25% more of it for today. Well, actually for yesterday, but the weather man said today would have a few more hours with the air temperature above freezing. The plan is to make a loop with fire roads. As much as I like a loop, it does come with some bad: about a mile along major roadway to close it. No road signs mark the trail here, but there is a crest on the south side and a large turn out to park in. The sun is giving serious thought to rising as I climb out onto the gravel clearing. The surface is solid under my feet, held together by the last rain which sank in a little and froze.

dawn light over Bouquet Canyon
Already a half hour past dawn on this very short day.

Behind the crest, a sign notes the distance to Mexico. Just 465 miles to go for any southbound travelers. There is no listing for Canada on the other side although that is the direction most traveling the trail will go. That is my choice too. There is a water cache, the open bottle dated in October, and some extras for any who might be on the trail at this late date. This area has some pretty famous trail angels nearby; Agua Dulce is just 10 miles south as the backpacker hikes. My legs are cold and I need to get moving to see if they will warm up.

northbound sign
Heading out "northbound" on the PCT.

footsteps in frozen mud
The evidence of those who passed just before the freeze will last a little longer than usual.

10 December 2015

Mesa Peak

Corral Canyon Park

Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy




The whims of a day settled on another peak, but one much closer and lower and probably a bit warmer than the last few. Suspecting Scott, a geocacher, might be happy to go along with that whim, I sent him an email. He sent out another email for two more that might be similarly inclined and we ended up three strong standing at the side of highway 1 ready to climb nearly every foot of Mesa Peak's 1844 foot height.

trailhead sign
The sign at the trailhead tries to give credit to all the agencies involved. Parking is in a fee lot or one of a few spots beside the highway, but public transportation is convenient.

The trail quickly divides, but it just loops around so all trails lead "up". We head left, which is the slightly longer way around. This takes us past some garden variety yucca and then the remains of the home that went with the garden. The foundation is not evident, but the chimney still stands tall. After that, it is a gentle, but very steady, climb up the side of the canyon.

brick chimney beside maple
The simple remains of a home.

tree covered canyon bottom
Lots of trees in the canyon bottom.

canyon side trail
Just a little, long, steady climb.

06 December 2015

Bighorn Mountains

Bighorn Mountain Wilderness




We drive a little further into the maze of dirt roads, including along the extra hiking length, through sand traps and up to a spot a little short of where the road deteriorates. This is our start to a high point that the Hundred Peaks Section lists as "Bighorn Mountains". I dump the dead weight of my camera without any charged batteries and we continue along the road on foot. It does not seem bad at first, as it drops down through a wash and up again. Then it drops down much more steeply past a fallen tree where it looks like some slip just a bit. On foot, it is fine.

After a few twists, we start climbing the mountain itself. It is an easy and steady climb interspersed with sudden, but short, steep climbs. For the most part, it is just a long wind through hills. Barren, tan hills. We are regaled with a story of meeting a few cows including a long horn along this route before. Prints on the road today show some cows have been by not too long ago.

After a long climb, we seem to come out on a large flat. This is definitely one of those mesa. In a move uncharacteristic of the HPS, they all walk right past the high point in the area. The road drops a little and climbs again to a second high point, but they are not interested in this one either. Further along, the road splits and we keep left to get to a third high point a little lower than the other two. This one has a great view to the north and is the one that they are interested in.

In a move completely characteristic of myself, I go looking for the benchmark, but cannot find it. This is odd because there is surveyor trash all over the place. I gather an ally in the search and we try to triangulate based on where the wires were anchored. There is not much area there to search, but we cannot find it. He pulls up the map on his phone and down under the marked path, I can see a little "x". The point was surveyed, but no monument placed. I have to be content with the view.

The view is spectacular. The flat desert stretches out many miles with random bumps. In the distance, lines of mountains can be seen. Gradually, our attention is taken not by them, but by a grey triangle even further out, seen between the sloping sides of two distinct ridges. Could it be Telescope Peak? It would have to be quite tall.

Our time is also taken up with celebrating Mary's list finish. There is a lot of food that appears from nowhere and starts getting passed around. This time, nothing fizzy, though. After a few minutes of celebration, though, the group cannot help but notice the pair who helped shepherd her through the final pieces of her list have suddenly turned their attention to two others who are getting near. It seems a bit quick, but is hard to blame them for being more interested in someone else's first list finish than their own xth list finish.

Gradually, the pressure of the coming darkness gets to us and we head down. It is not so much the possible walking in the dark by lamp, but the driving that we worry about. It really is easier to do it in the daylight. So we follow the road back down.




©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 Dec 2015

Meeks Mountain

Bighorn Mountain Wilderness




The second day of peak bagging with the Hundred Peaks Section hikers begins with a more through maze of dirt roads just a little bit north of the ones from yesterday. The first hint that we are about to have a somewhat longer hike than advertised comes when our leaders, who are driving an unfamiliar car, are discussing if the junction we have arrived at is the one they mean to park at. Whatever the answer, we are parked and start off down the road on foot. After a flat and easy mile, we have our answer when we come to the usual parking area. We continue on on roads for a short while before deciding to cut across the desert for a wash and a little more direct climbing than can be found on road. And as the view opens up, the camera proves to have managed to drain its battery overnight even though it was off. The backup, which has not been charged since June, is quite flat as well, so there are no photographs for these Sunday hikes either.

We clamber across the wash and follow it up to meet the road again. In a bit of humor, someone has moved the "open route" sign from the road to the rocky entrance to the wash below it. We allow the road to wander on to whatever old prospect it was built for and continue climbing. The way gradually gets steeper. There is discussion that the route on the left is very slippery while the route on the right stays fairly easy. We seem to be splitting the middle. It is not slippery from scree, but there are a lot of big rocks to navigate. The complicated route tends to slow us down.

Gradually, things flatten out, but the elusive peak keeps being just a little bit further. The route, just one of many marked by cairns, gradually turns into a trail as we get near the top. The top itself is a flat area big enough for a helipad, but naturally that way. I can find both reference marks and the station easily, although some look more like "EEKS" than "MEEKS". Fallen trees form a rough ring around the edges of the flat and the group has generally found a place on that ring to enjoy one bit of view or another.

Feeling pressed for time, partly from the extra mile, we head down after a short time. We have a different leader for the downward trek and this time keep a little more to what is now our left where the route is supposed to be easier. This misses just about every big rock replacing it with a gradual hill slope. This really would have been an easier climb.
As the slope flattens out, we once again find the road. Just as before, we leave it to follow the wash, crossing it once more, then cross country to the road we came in along. We go quickly down the flat extra length anticipating lunch and the next peak.




©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 13 Dec 2015

05 December 2015

Chaparrosa Peak

Pioneertown Mountains Preserve




We backtracked out of the minor maze of dirt roads and down another dirt road past only one unsigned intersection to a well graded parking lot to start the second peak of the day with the Hundred Peaks Section hikers. This one is a little longer a hike, but entirely on trail. It is curious how much a difference this makes even on terrain that is simple to cross. Some make use of the facilities before we start the experiment to see how much of a difference it makes between the routes to the peaks today.

plain at the start
The trail starts from the south side of the overflow and bus parking area.

trailhead for Chaparrosa Peak
And we are off. The sign spells out the entire mileage for those who find math very difficult.

We start off on an easy, flat trail, then flirt with an old driveway and drop down steeply into a wash. There are two more quick, steep, and seemingly arbitrary crossings of the wash before we start a steady climb to an old road. A long line of spires to the south grows as we climb further along the road.

line of volcanic rock
A line of hard volcanic rock.

Black Mountain

Bighorn Mountain Wilderness




It is the season for peak bagging, at least if not too high up, so I headed down south again to join the Hundred Peaks Section hikers for another weekend. Today we navigated a minor maze of dirt roads to a seemingly random spot on Bureau of Land Management land surrounded by scattered inholdings. I am glad to not have been trying to navigate my little car over the last quarter mile or so and especially glad not to be trying to get into the parking with it. We are surrounded by shrubs, little road, and no trail. We simply set off in a rough direction toward higher things to the east. In the desert, the plants cannot grow very densely, so this is just a matter of choosing a path of many. Preferably, not too close to the cholla.

hikers in the desert
Setting off into the morning sun. Just pick a direction.

hills
The hills ahead, which almost entirely hide the mountain.

29 November 2015

Combs Peak

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park




The third day of peak bagging with the Hundred Peaks Section hikers finds us carpooling down a pretty good dirt road to a widening at a crossing of the Pacific Crest Trail. I did not drive, so as I take stock of my pack at the trail and notice my camera missing, I cannot just walk over and grab it. There will be no pictures. We gather beside a sign where the destinations are the county line and the highway beyond. We will not get as far as either of those. Our destination along the trail is just the next saddle.

We head north and curve around the hills. Some snow remains here, but only behind the most sheltering of steep northern slopes. There are quite a lot of dog prints in the snow. We start to climb, but it is at a very easy pace. The peaks to the east must be some favorite ones for some of my fellow hikers because as they become more visible, there is talk about this bit of ridge and that bit of climbing. They seem to be Villager and Rabbit. I remember them talking about the same pair when we climbed a different peak that also happened to be called Rabbit. Then and now, it sounds like these are peaks that people are particularly proud to have ticked off their list. As we head further north, nearer peaks hide parts of those two distant ones, bringing a little disappointment to at least one hikers.

The trail gradually gets more serious about climbing, but it is still a pretty easy grade right up to the saddle. We gather again in preparation for leaving the trail, then continue a little way further down the trail before starting to climb. There is a cairn to mark the spot, left either by the peak baggers or those who have used a small campsite beside it.

A few more steps and the easy climb is over. We turn to the peak to be climbed and start chugging up it. There are some small attempts at wiggles in the route, but ultimately we are charging upward in a fairly single minded manner. Most of the slope has some rocks in it, but is mostly dirt. We have one small rock chute right before the top that slows the group to a crawl, but one by one we make it out the top and to the peak.

The details of Villager and Rabbit that were most interesting to those who have hiked it have reappeared with the climb. My eyes are drawn more by the mountain they called Toro yesterday. I have had a different face of it each day. It is about the only thing locally that still has visible snow, although the snow line has moved upward quite a bit. The other thing with obvious snow is San Gorgonio, but we are not sure at first that that is what it is since it is towered over by nearer peaks. The white head of the tallest peak in southern California is on one side of a much nearer point and a long dark shoulder of peaks is on the other. As I squint at the distant shapes, I realize that I do know that profile from marching over them one by one from San Bernardino and its initial points. Only the shoulder, though, the snow covered head still awaits climbing by me. The day really is stunning. The clarity of the air is wonderful.

Of course, while I am on the top, I have to look for the benchmarks. The station is being sat on at first, but eventually easy to spot. There are two reference marks pointing at it, after all.
After snacks, we head down again. The short chute is slow, but the rest of the hike is quick. We gather again upon hitting the trail before heading back down to the cars. Most are going on to Oakzanita, another peak a fair distance south, and need to hurry on. I got into the car of people who would rather let that wait until more time can be given to the area around it. We head back to the parking instead.




©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 7 Dec 2015

28 November 2015

Beauty Peak and Iron Spring Mountain

Beauty Mountain Wilderness Area




For the second day of peak bagging with the Hundred Peaks Section hikers, I head a little bit south and down a maze of paved and dirt roads to a spot a certain distance from the last corner that provides sufficient parking. Both sides of the road are a wilderness area preserved by the county. The only thing that is distinctive here is the gate and road traveling to the north, but we are not going that way. There is a second road to the north a little way up the road, but that is not our route either. Instead, we backtrack from our parking area a couple hundred feet and turn down a third road road heading southeast that is hard to even notice after many years of abandonment. I can sort of imagine where the road was, once, but the occasional fading pink ribbons in the bushes are much easier to follow. It does not last long anyway as we turn off in our own direction.

people gathering at a brief high
Plunging into the chaparral along use trail.

We head down into a canyon and up again. The route is steep, then flat, then steeply down, and flat again, and steep up and into a wash. Once in the wash, we stick near the bottom, but there are sudden jaunts up the side and back down to get around vegetation and rockfall. It gets easier as we go and we eventually find we have walked over a wide saddle. It is a short and twisting, easy drop down to an earthen dam.

rocky wash
Looking back down the rocky wash as we clamber up.

27 November 2015

Ken Point

San Bernardino National Forest

Santa Rosa - San Jacinto Mountains National Monument




Three days in a row of outings planned in the same general area inspired me to come out and join a group of Hundred Peaks Section hikers, AKA "those crazy peakbaggers", for a few distant hikes. (Their outings are open to the general public, not just to members of the Sierra Club.) It is cold, somewhere around freezing, and the very last flakes from last night's snow are still fluttering down as we collect in the dirt lot next to the Pacific Crest Trail. A blanket of a few inches covers the ground but the roads and trails are just wet. Ignacia is worried there might be more behind it since it was supposed to be finished by now. The clouds to the north do look imposing, but to the south there is a patch of blue. As we fret, the blue increases and we all decide to trust the weather. Packed for the day hike, we head off. Peter is still worried about the higher elevations, but there is no accumulation left from previous storms in the area.

trailhead under snow
Starting off into the snow, we are warned about trail closures due to fire just ten miles ahead.

a peak
A peak dusted with snow from the night before.

21 November 2015

Alder Creek Trail

Los Padres National Forest




We meet in Fillmore and travel up to Dough Flat with a simple goal: to place signs along the trail marking the Sespe Condor Sanctuary that the trail travels through. It is a quarter mile wide corridor through an area that is otherwise closed to the public. We have a few tools to make sure the area around signs is clear, a tool to establish a pilot hole the signs will go into, and a second to drive the signs into the ground. The clearing tools are just loppers and a pick mattock, but the driver is some 26 pounds and the pilot is another 35 pounds. We also have to carry the signs, but only in one direction.

crew climbing with tools
The group sets off lugging the tools. The orange block is one of the drivers.

A little way into the sanctuary from the parking lot, we get a demonstration of how to use the tools. It is a simple procedure with a slight hiccup when an underground rock strikes the first placement attempt. We split into two groups, one that will drop signs as we go to the end, then start back driving them in, while the other sets to driving in the first ones. This way one set of tools should not need to be carried more than half the distance of the other. I grab five signs for my part of the load and we are off.

White Acre Peak
White Acre Peak still looms above, tempting.

10 November 2015

Alder Creek (Juncal Road and Franklin Trail)

Los Padres National Forest




I was wondering what the state of the part of Franklin Trail that was never closed was and thinking that since I hiked the newly reopened part, I should finish the job. Dreading the step at the end of the pavement, I kept putting it off. I was informed that it has been improved, though, so there were no excuses. I heard rain drops on the roof last night, so was worried the gate might be closed. I checked it online, but found no problems. Still, I made a contingency plan and started the long drive over the top of the mountains and down to the river on the other side. The step was not large, the gate was not closed, and the parking is even more clear than it was before. Today is the day for the rest of the trail, then, so on with the shoes and off onto the easy stretch up to the reservoir.

Santa Ynez River
The Santa Ynez River is wide and flat and devoid of water. Of course, the dam a short way up helps with that.

sycamore in the river bed
Sycamores give a bit of color.

Finally, after nearly two miles, there is a significant climb as the road gets near the dam in big, lazy loops. It looks like some shortcut the gentler road by taking the route next to the water pipe. That route is full of poison oak, so I do not go for it. At the upper end, it becomes very steep and a rope has been left to help with the climb. The dam comes into view after another lazy turn over the top of a hill. The road already seems higher than it, but keeps on climbing gently.

Juncal Dam
Just about level with Juncal Dam, which is still far away.

03 November 2015

Happy Camp Canyon

Moorpark




I have wondered if the areas south of 126 could be hiked. Many areas certainly look like they would allow some rambling. Well, there is at least one area called Happy Camp Canyon Park. It sounds mildly menacing somehow. I am planning to do a loop and the park has a canyon trail and a ridge trail that connect toward the far side, so that is easy to do. I want to do the ridge first, which should be on a trail off to the right. Not finding a map near the parking, I head off on the best trail off to the right I can find, which cuts across the local golf course. This must be a perfectly okay place to walk since it elicits no reaction whatsoever from the course with someone playing every hole. Horse prints are along the route traveling in the other direction, and none of the golfs seem to have a horse as their golf cart. This soon connects with the trail from the eastern parking area and satisfies my irrational need to be on a trail heading off to the right to satisfy plans, but does not seem to be climbing up onto the ridge as expected.

kiosk at trail start
At the western trailhead of Happy Camp Canyon Park with the golf course below and the ridge with a trail behind it.

road runner
The least skittish road runner I have come across, but still ready to scamper.

It takes a while to get past the golf course and I am still in the canyon when I finish. The trail loops around to rejoin the other and other trails climb the canyon to the other side. Things are just not as expected until I get to a second kiosk that does have a small, faded local area map in the corner. The loop is actually a bit of a lollipop that splits just ahead to climb the ridge to the right or continue along the canyon bottom to the left. Now I can finally start climbing up the ridge.

east trail/road
The east trail curving around to meet the west trail.

31 October 2015

sketches

Plenty of hikes this month and a few even included sketching.

I could find a bunch of horsetails and some water at the spring up Boulder Canyon.

Nature taking it back in Solstice Canyon.

Hidden mountains along the ridge above Ojai.

A deep pool along the Santa Ynez River.

30 October 2015

Mt Disappointment, San Gabriel Pk, Mt Markham, and Mt Lowe

Angeles National Forest




Following the previous day's peak bagging in the cold, I thought I would go after a somewhat lower cluster of Hundred Peaks Section listed peaks. Parking at Eaton Saddle for the easier access through the tunnel to the peak trails. There is only one other car, but a group of hikers pop out from the trail to Valley Forge and head off around the corner where I want to go. They are still waiting there as I pass by and so on for a little bit of leap frogging.

Mount Markham
Mount Markham greets everyone as they come around the corner form Eaton Saddle. One of the mountains I am going for, but not the side I will climb.

Mueller Tunnel
Exiting from the Mueller Tunnel.

The Mueller Tunnel is a bit of fun for kids of all ages. At the next saddle, there is a curious bit of animal trail heading toward that steep side of Markham. Here, there are also two trails heading off to the various peaks while the fire road continues slightly downward toward a campground. I am going after San Gabriel and Mount Disappointment first, so start up the steeper trail going north.

eastern view
The view east over Eaton Saddle.

29 October 2015

Waterman Mountain and Twin Peaks

Angeles National Forest




There are a number of places to start hiking up Waterman Mountain and I chose a more conventional one this time. The day is a dreary grey that I am sure will burn off and I have let the start go a little late waiting for some of that to happen. My previous trip up to the top was an exploration of an abandoned road, and while I managed to put a loop together in the end, it did have a bit of road walking in it. This time, I am starting at a turn out just east of one of the ski resort roads. An unmarked trail climbs the hill a short way and splits, one side heading off east somewhere and one crossing the road to head west. I am going for the west part first, so I take that. Without a lot of ceremony, it delivers me to a second trailhead at the next turnout west, where information boards have been nearly wiped clean by the weather.

blue boards
The well marked trailhead. Sort of.

There is no other well used trail from here, but there is a lesser used abandoned road. There are a lot of old road beds on this mountain. They are a maze, but in some ways all roads lead to the resort. I turn up it and eventually find myself on a much better used road again. At another junction, I opt for the lesser used road to the right again and follow it until it returns to the main road in sight of the resort. It has gotten bitingly cold with a little elevation gain and the wind helps it cut in further. There are islands of wet along the way and as I go through them, I find they are still getting wetter with scattered rain drops.

hill to the west
Finding a little sun as the clouds clear a little, but the wind still bites at me and I need to get out a little cover.

lesser used road
A lesser used road around the mountain. Short corridors of wet give the impression of shadows across the road.

25 October 2015

Red Rock

Los Padres National Forest




We had a dinner that could not be beat and did not get up until a late in the morning, at least that was the plan. Most people were up only a little late and having a breakfast that could not be beat. Plans to hit a peak in a short hike got scuttled, so we ended up back at the start a little before noon. On the way out, I turned left instead of right and headed to the end of the road because there is just enough time for an afternoon hike looping around the river. There are lots of spots open today, especially by the road. I grab one and start the easy climb.

looking down on the river bed
Down below, I can find a bit of trail, but not a lot of river.

There is a trail a short way up marked only with who is allowed on it. This would shortcut part of the road, I think, but I stick to the road. The climb is easy and there are lots of places to look out over the river bed. Sometimes, I can even see a bit of water down there. A bit of the complex beside the dam is visible before the shortcut comes back, again marked only with who is allowed to use it.

water in a narrow, deep pool
A big pool still holds water.

24 October 2015

Madulce Trail

Los Padres National Forest




Madulce Trail needs some trees cut out and I decided to get in on the action. We could go in Friday morning and get in two days of work or Friday afternoon and get in just one and I chose to go all in. If my arms did not hold up all the way to the second day, there would be new arms to take my place anyway. The work was originally scheduled for the previous week, but was moved for fear of rain. The rest of us thought Mike was being a wimp at the time, but the changes in the road from that weekend show he was extremely justified in changing the date. Unfortunately, it did thin out the workforce a little.

23 Oct 2015

We arrive at Upper Oso a bit early, for the most part, and wait for our escort through the gate. The first part of the road is an OHV route, but we get to drive it in vehicles wider than 54 inches. A lot of these are the same people I saw coming out as I went up to 19 Oaks and they are quite impressed at the changes in the road after what was a little rain in most places. The rains this year seem to be gushers in the few spots they deign to fall. A second gate marks the end of the OHV route and we travel slightly rougher roads to Bluff Camp to disgorge our gear from the trucks. A few more miles along very rough road gets us to the trail and about a mile of walking gets us to the start of work.

Madulce Peak
Madulce Peak is a thin ridge dropping sharply on either side. We follow the south side until the first peak, then around the back side.

19 October 2015

Gridley and Pratt Trails

Los Padres National Forest

Valley View Preserve




For today's brief suggestion of the Fall season that should be upon us, I decided to do a big loop up to "The Tower" via Gridley and Pratt. I have done it in the opposite direction before, but you see different things when you turn around, so that is what I am doing. Parking is easier at Shelf Road, so I grab a spot there before hiking up the road to the trailhead for Gridley. The chill of night should still be on the air, but it is already very comfortable even when not moving. The two spots by it sit empty under the steadily brightening sky.

start here for Gridley
The sign at the bottom of Gridley Trail which is just before the end of public access on Gridley Road.

The trail climbs through chaparral at first, then along avocado trees. This section is through private property and sometimes there are people on ATVs traveling along the trees. Today there is one, but he is quickly gone again with the stink following more slowly. Eventually I break out into the National Forest and meet some of the first rays of the sun as it breaks from the mountains.

sun rays over mountains and through clouds
Here come the warming rays of the sun, although the morning is not that cool.

The climb is long, but easy on the old fire road. It swings deep into side canyons, then out to perched views both back over the Ojai Valley and up into the higher hills. There are places where the soft rock walls slump over the road reducing it to a single track, but it is kept open with the frequent hikers and frequent enough work by volunteers. The old rest stop by Gridley Spring is a forlorn place. It is still deep in shadow and the spring is only delivering enough water to the trough to wet a small area of the bottom. Here, the road is narrow due to falling away into the canyon below instead of sluff coming down on it.

Ojai Valley
Looking down over the Ojai Valley.

16 October 2015

Arrowhead Island

Lake Cachuma Recreation Area

With the drought, Arrowhead Island has been abandoned by the lake for a couple years now. It is just an unremarkable hill the highway used to pass by that becomes noticed now because of the happenstance of where a dam was placed. My mother said, "Let's go after Pluto," and so we went. Pluto is a geocache that is part of a set that make up a scale model of the solar system with the Westmont Observatory as the sun. It was still a planet when the model was made and it happens to be on the island. We start at the stub of highway left at the side of 150, which is a little difficult to achieve, then just follow it out. It is bushy at first, but then we hit the high water line and travel becomes easy. Freshwater clam shells are steady company from a few feet down.

highway in the lake
The old highway stretches away into the lake bed and the island rises to the right of it.

below water, sometimes
The area is vast and flat, but we are about as far from the dam as we can be and the lake does not get very deep here.

clam shells in the road way
The remains of fresh water clams are everywhere. Some areas have much more and some only a few, but they are everywhere.

11 October 2015

Upper Solstice Canyon

Malibu Creek State Park

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area




After hiking around the lower canyon, it is a good time to head up to the end of the road to hike around the upper canyon. Really, I only want to do a little loop in the canyon itself, then take off along the one trail here that I have not really hiked on, the Backbone to the east. The parking lot is nearly empty today, but there are a couple young women looking for "Jim Morrison's cave" with instructions from Yelp, of all things. My prejudices show as my mind instantly suspects it is a place covered in graffiti and trash. The only help I can offer is that they are on the only trail going southwest from here, so that is probably where they want to start their search. I turn up the motorway instead and climb to the saddle at the top to look out over the valley.

panorama around the valley to the north
Poking up to the view at the top.

Catalina Island
Catalina Island in the mist.

Lower Solstice Canyon

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area




I wanted to poke along in the Malibu area again and decided to put together a hike with Hike the Geek. The LA group have not gotten together in a while, so I did not expect much. The planned day rolls around with only two sign ups as "I'll try", so expectations are fulfilled. After a suitable wait, neither has shown up. The day is hot as promised, so I start off in the canyon. The weather man promised heat today and it is already quite hot enough, but the canyon is cool. A glimpse down at a clear spot shows a very little bit of water making its way along the creek bed.

wide and flat and a bit shaded
Trees provide frequent shade along the old road that serves as a trail up Solstice Canyon.

remains of the house at the end of the road
Arriving at the house ruins at the end of the road. A little bit of the creek is diverted across the road.