Gaviota State Park
It looks like the heat may be breaking a little as we continue through a season that is hard to call "winter", and it may be a good day to take in a short hike in Gaviota. Everyone else seems to think so too, as cars are parked around the entire lot leaving little space for new arrivals. A grandpa with a couple youngsters is finishing as I start. Behind them, a couple that look like they have been soaking in the hot spring are wandering down greeting the world with smiles. At the junction, a family is deciding which way to go. I turn up Trespass Trail, and the crowd thins out. The hills are still green from the rains and the flowers are starting to burst.
|White petals tinted with lavender are especially happy to pop up in the middle of the fire road.|
|Since the freeway goes right up the middle of the park, it is hard to get away from.|
|The oaks look a little better to me.|
It is warm, but not hot, as I climb. Still, the shade as I come to the large stand of oaks is welcome. The poison oak down under them seems to be doing well. Some of it already has berries. It makes me worry about my return route. There is a very light fog out over the ocean as I leave the oaks again.
|The shooting stars are clustered thickly in moist areas, but are usually an early flower.|
|Looking toward the sea is looking through a light haze.|
|Coming around into the strike canyon.|
The top of Tunnel View Trail still has its narrow, brown sign. The last of the lettering simply stating "trail" has worn off now. The dirt track is quite clear is it drops back down the hill, at least at first. After a turn, it is a flat spot full of green things.
|The lizards seem to like the warm weather.|
|Blue dicks hang out over the overgrown tread.|
|Look carefully among the poppies and a few are already becoming seed.|
Around another corner, there is the same downed wood to step over. Pink ribbons mark low overhead wood that needs removed, but I have to wonder if anything more will ever be done. They are still bright, so have not had much sun and weather yet. Around another corner and my trail fades out, but drifting off to the left finds a clear track from those coming up.
|A scattering of oaks make a particularly pleasant spot for hiking today.|
The oaks and grass change into chaparral. It stretches into the trail a little, but the trail is clear of all but weedy stuff. As it rounds the hill, the tunnel comes into view.
|The view of the tunnel from Tunnel View.|
|The trail trough the chaparral is a line of darker, shorter green.|
|The other side of Gaviota State Park.|
The tunnel vanishes again behind the hill as I go. The band of thicker oaks with poison oak above is thick oaks with poison oak here, too. The difference is here it will hang out across the trail at face level. As I start under the oaks, there is a fallen branch that pushes me into poison oak. Beyond, the winding route has quite a bit more. Paying close attention, I can almost avoid all of it. At the far side, I am dumped into more meadow. There are a few extra trails around, but today one is obviously more used. Below, I recognize where I came up when trying to use the Beach to Backcountry Trail. The signpost for the trail is a little further along.
|Arrows show where the trail is meant to be, but nothing more is indicated by this sign post.|
I have heard a rumor that the tunnel area is cleared now for this trail and want to take a look. There is a trail down from the sign post, so I try that again. It follows into the meadow below and splits until it is nothing. I know I need to get to the south, so look for a break in the vegetation in that direction. There is nothing until the bottom of the meadow. This leads to more wall of vegetation with a small opening across a gully that is clearly not trail, but the only way available. I cross it where it drops more deeply, but is covered in mugwort instead of more poison oak. On the other side, trail develops again and eventually I am on the old bit of road behind fence. The easiest way from here has been to jump the fence at a gate a little down the old road and push through the few feet of chaparral to the highway. However, this is not the trail, so I find a track going to where it should be. There is a track leading over to an old segment of tread. Someone else has found this piece of trail and marked it with more pink ribbon, but it is no longer bright. Big bushes are growing out of it still. I can see no break in thick brush in the bowl below. I cannot even pick out the tunnel opening, but I may be too low for that.
|Faded ribbon marks a piece of tread that vanishes into uncut brush.|
|The tunnel is out near the trees on the far side, so likely hidden by brush. It is looking rather unyielding today although I did once make it from the other side to here.|
The brush looks greener, but otherwise unchanged and it takes more motivation than I have today to push through that stuff. I turn around and follow the few obvious switchbacks up again. Once the hill is no longer steep, the obvious tread vanishes, so I just have to make my way up along one track or another through the meadow above. Again, I look for the route to the signed junction. There is a trail of broken branches in one spot, but the poison oak is too thick. I end up back at the trail south of the post. North of the post, it is easy to follow over two bridges and back to the fire road. I did see a few people on Trespass and even one set on Tunnel View, but once back to the junction with the route to the peak, it feels a little like a crowd again.
©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 17 February 2015