22 September 2015

Nicholas Flat

Leo Carrillo State Park




It rained (ever so slightly), so maybe the pond in Nicholas Flat previously thought to be permanent has a little water in it. Or at least some mud. There could be something, but I am likely engaging in some very wishful thinking. More importantly, the light rain has brought a day of cooler weather which will be nice for hiking. Starting by the increasingly warm ocean will help a little, too. I grab a parking spot and start to climb as the clouds give way to the sun. Above, there is still shade from the clouds, but it seems to be keeping just out of reach as I climb.

campground at Leo Carrillo
The campground below is a little noisy from those orange spots.


east along the coast
A bit more foggy along the coast to the east.

higher up
A little higher up and some trails snake below.

After a bit more climbing, a little bit of a switchback, and some more climbing, the trail starts to split. I head up a short spur trail to a nearby peak like last time, then continue to keep to the southern trails. I knew I should check the map of this area again since there are a lot more trails than signs up here. I am basically out to take a big loop around the place and somewhere there should be a pond. This gets me to a dim trail that heads out on a second spur with good views, too.

Boney Mountain
Boney Mountain off in the distance to the northwest.

Nicholas Flat
Overlooking the flats.

Hitting the meadow where I finished my hike up here before, I cross over to the mysterious pipe at the far side to have a look at it again. It is still meaningless to me even with plenty of light to examine it. There is trail right next to it and I realize I did not need to get all the stickers in my socks from the long dead grass and follow it back to the junction, then continue on my southern trail route past more meadow.

one of the flats up close
The first flat, a huge meadow.

a second meadow/flat
Peeking through the oaks to a second meadow.

My southern route turns out to be quite efficient for getting to the pond, except for the two obvious spur trails. I come to a small dock holding a bench overlooking what probably was once a pond. It is surrounded with the dead reeds associated with the edge of a depression filled with water. Inside that ring is the growth of brush that does not typically deal well with being under a bit of water. After a little time with the bench, I head around on a small trail to the south side of the pond where cliff edges drop away.

bench beside a long dry pond
A place to sit on the dock by the pond.

cliff at the far side of the pond
Around the other side, the natural dam that holds in the pond leads to a rapid drop off.

canyon below the dam
Looking down the canyon on the other side of the natural dam.

The trail to the pond from the other side is a well groomed and wide item built up from the likely sometimes marshy meadow beside it. Along it, there are some more odd objects left over from the historic use of this land. This takes me along the rapidly deteriorating motorway before I turn back to instead continue around the flats.

artifact
Whatever it is, the oiling instructions are still easy to find.

groomed trail in a meadow
The well groomed trail as it passes yet another meadow.

yellow globes
One of the very few flowers found in bloom at this time of year.

edge of my motorway travel
Looking back the way I came. The old motorway becomes a thin trail quickly as it enters the chaparral.

Back on the groomed trail, I follow it to the entry at the end of a road. It even has a well groomed sign detailing how well groomed the trail is at the start. It is meant to be wheel chair friendly. Another 30 feet along is an old gate with more trail that I continue down, taking a spur off to the road again and another small bump.

old gate
Gateway to another bit.

afternoon light in fog
The view in the afternoon light can be hard to take in.

I head back into the park again and at the next junction, start climbing over the hill back in the direction I started from. The only sign at the junction informs me of the changing ownership in this patchwork of public and private lands. The trail I left alone is federal public land instead of state public land. It is a distinction that interests few hikers, but there is a sign to say so. The climb brings me to all new views of the flats below.

Nicholas Flat
Looking down on the flats from another vantage point.

I follow the ridge a little bit and it wanders past a county survey marker and down to the trail I came in on. I wander down it, but take the Willow Canyon Trail for the last bit down. It keeps me out of the smoke from the campground until the very last. I have had enough smoke recently.




©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 6 Oct 2015

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