22 March 2015

Ocean View Trail: White Ledge Camp

Los Padres National Forest

DAY 1 | DAY 2

(Day 1 of 2) After going to the end of Camino Cielo to see how far it goes for the second time, I felt that I was rather neglecting the other side of the work on Ocean View Trail. On this side, they have not been hauling up tables for the pleasure of hikers and occasional campers. For the nostalgic, they have gone one better and uncovered an old campsite along the trail. It is identified on the 1938 forest map (and no others, it seems) as White Ledge Camp. To start, I headed up to the end of Matilija Canyon Road and find a parking spot. From there, I have to hike up to Murietta Divide and up Monte Arido Trail to the ridge to meet the old Ocean View Trail.

trail lined by blue dicks
A delightful section of Murietta Canyon without a thick lining of poison oak.

Not too far up the trail, there is a shout from a hunter who seems to have a friend and two kids in tow. The kids each have a rifle and some camouflage clothing too warm for the predicted weather. The leader wants to know where the designated boar hunting areas are. The younger boy is really excited about it all, the older girl seems more focused on observing the environment. I can just point out the private property as a no hunting zone since there are no designated areas. They have an idea of going up to a "little pond" they found on Google maps called Jameson. Pointing out that it is a municipal reservoir, not a pond, and some 8 or 11 miles away (give or take) somehow does not lessen their enthusiasm about getting there. We go along the trail since it is a nicer way to go, but I regret directing them this way when it occurs to me to ask if they know what poison oak looks like. "Kinda." They do quite like the little campground, which is empty today. I point out the poison oak and leave them around the campfire ring having jerky to finish the trail portion and climb to the divide.

rocky peak along the ridge
Looking up the canyon toward the high point along the Santa Ynez Mountains.

green and red on small blue-white flowers
Beetles crawling around the ceanothus flowers.

small water flow
The spring is still flowing.

Once at the divide, with the Santa Ynez River on one side and tributaries to the Ventura River on the other, it is time to find the Monte Arido Trail and really start climbing. It is a little easier to spot now, just west of Monte Arido Road that climbs the other way, although that ease may only be because I know what I am looking for now. There are clouds far down Matilija as I look back. More clouds are cresting the Santa Ynez Mountains far to the west. Both are a result of the marine layer today and no clouds offer relief from the sun near me. The same folks from my previous hike to Divide Peak are out today, or at least we all think we might be the same each other. They have some hints for me for this trip as well.

horny toad, which is a lizard
Lots of tiny horny toads running about today.

ridge line
Just climb the trail up this ridge.

the little pond that is actually a municipal reservoir
Looking down the Santa Ynez River and Santa Ynez Mountains. Jameson still has water.

the other direction down Matilija
Looking to the high point along the Santa Ynez Mountains and down Matilija Creek.

There are motorcycle tracks near the top of the trail, although they do not go far down it. At the top, the old Ocean View Trail is quite wide because here it has become the Divide Peak OHV Route. Turning east, travel is easy as it winds past a field of picturesque boulders. Below, there is a sea of cloud swirling up into the various valleys.

rock garden
Looking back over the rock garden at the top, including a quite nice holed rock.

bush poppies
There are many wonderful bush poppies.

White Ledge with clouds swirling
Cloud sea washing up on White Ledge.

The effective OHV route has been extended south across a saddle by the riders on it, climbing a peak in front of the unnamed high point. The old trail leaves the OHV route at this bend and continues along the ridge. It is cleverly disguised as a short, steep slide to nothing and the motorcycles have not abused it they way they have the top of Monte Arido. The initial part of the trail is a shaggy cut in the brush, but this is also camouflage. One hint I was given was for a camping spot. The trail stays fairly level for a while and just before it makes a long downhill, there is a spot that has been used a few times.

ragged trail through the manzanita
Finding a bit of trail through the manzanita.

Old Man Mountain
Old Man Mountain.

rocky ridge and distant peaks
Looking ahead, there is a rocky ridge.

There is a spot that looks like it might be the recommended camping site, but being uncalibrated on how far the trail goes, I am not certain if it has already been a "little while" and start down the downhill. Some parts of the trail seem unlikely while others are definitely old, well established trail bed. There are blocked off routes where incorrect was decided to be wrong as well. The trail is quite easy to follow eastward.

wide trail beside rocks
Chemise regrowing down the middle of a section of reestablished trail. Evidence for this being part of the old trail include photographs, I believe.

looking down into the canyon
Looking down into Matilija.

The trail climbs into a small saddle and there is White Ledge Camp. It is currently a wide spot along the trail among some short trees. An intact ice can stove sits at one edge, although closer examination shows that the bottom has rusted out. Another hint was that this camp is now quite full of ants that swell up out of the ground wherever you stay too long. It looks like being exposed or the passage of feet on many occasions has helped this out and an ant free spot can be selected now. A closer look at the trees shows they are not ones traditionally thought of as trees. They are scrub oak and ceanothus. The theory is they have grown large on the refuse of bygone horses. Other refuse from the prior era of camping can be found as well.

ice can stove
The ice can stove and some of the tools of eating that were left with the camp. The door even still works.

very rusted cans and purple glass
Some old cans rusting through and purple glass from when the trail was well used.

Tools can be found on this side as well, and I grab a small pair of loppers before heading off to the end. There is a note that the trail passed 100 feet north of the camp, but the extension now is through the camp and along the ridge. Sometimes progress is a matter of looking for the cuts on the brush. Eventually, even these end.

the ridge as it goes further east
Looking forward, it looks a lot like there might be old trail along the north side, or it could be an artifact of layered rocks.

White Ledge
White Ledge is still a fair distance away.

Turning back, I work my way with the loppers back toward the camp. It is harder to follow the trail in this direction. Everyone who comes this way has already been on the trail once and most have been on it many times. I sometimes look for my prints to decide on the correct route.

islands in fog bank
Off in the distance, the sea of fog is piling up on the actual islands.

Matilija again
Looking down Matilija again.

Back at the camp, I find a spot away from the ants and sort things out. The ground is not flat, but it is close. The wind is picking up, but the trees help keep things pleasant. A perch on the rocks south of the camp makes an excellent dining room, looking out over the top of the marine layer with the sun setting. There is a brief time between sunset and the set of the moon during which the crescent, unnoticed until this moment, shines brightly as I tuck into bed.

colors in the sky
Sunset from White Ledge Camp.

Continue reading: day 2

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 1 April 2015


Quixotic Nature said...

Nice photos. It's great you were able to enjoy our work! Perhaps we'll see you again out there sometime,

Don Jackson said...

Thanks for sharing your initial trip on the Oceanview....very helpful info and great photos.