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.

wide and graded road with mountains
Walking up the easy road.

dam coming into view
The dam complex comes into view.

top of the shortcut trail
At the top of the shortcut trail.

I pass a couple people stretching at a picnic table with bad phone music playing, but otherwise the walk is undisturbed. As the dam is near the top of my loop, it gets more and more into view as I go. It appears a recent word of mouth report that the reservoir is about 14 inches deep was perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. It looks a little deeper than that, of course it could be filled in a short way under the wide body of water I see.

Gibraltar Dam
Looking down on the dam and the reservoir.

Eventually the road starts down again to drop to the area just below the dam. There is the trail up Devil's Canyon just before the road junction. I follow the road to the left expecting it to dwindle into trail, but it dead ends next to access to the water tunnel. Sulphur compounds leak from the cement and steel structure causing a bit of stink.

river bottom
Down in the river bottom.

cement and steal
A door into a stinky place, the water tunnel.

I follow the road a short way back to a line of rocks I noticed before but paid no attention. Sure enough, they are trail markings that lead right to a narrow dirt track in the dried grass. It widens quickly, but for some reason is difficult to see where is most needs to be seen. As easy as the road walk to here was, the river walk is even easier although now there are rocks to avoid. There is an old campground with a decaying toilet marked day use only. Nice big oaks dot the grassy flats. Just as above, it is very hard to spot any water in the river, but it can be found in large pools.

loose seat
Not a very attractive set up for those in need.

garter snake
A little bit of wildlife in the form of a tiny garter snake.

no river
Not much to see in terms of a river.

pool below steep rock
But then there are a few low pools where the river is suddenly deep.

There are a few more pools as I go, but not all that many. They show varying high water lines that are at least a foot above the current level.

horses and riders at water
A couple riders stop by another deep pool.

river bottom
Cliffs at a large turn with quite a lot of dry river bed.

At the edge of one corner, I poke my way up an abandoned old road a short way. There is a little bit left of a foundation off to the side of it. It is an old mine road that has caught my eye on maps before and looks like it gets some travel still. There is another ruin nearly removed by time by the side of the trail just downstream from the old road.

grey rocks
The view from the ruins a short way up an old mine road. The rocks above have a lot of green in them.

bricks in a wall
A low line of bricks from some past structure near the trail.

The cliffs around me look a lot like the ones that I was looking down on very near the beginning of my hike, so it is not surprising to finally come upon the large red rock that gives the area its name. The pool below it is a lot lower than the others, but this one has a couple groups on the shore and thinking about swimming while a third group joins them. The sun has finally cleared the clouds and it is getting warm so it almost seems like a grand idea to jump in, but the day is late enough that it will soon start to cool again.

monolith of red and white
Red Rock towers over a pool that has dwindled to nearly nothing.

The parking lot is just around the corner from the rock. I just have to walk across it to finish the loop.

©2015 Valerie Norton
Posted 5 Nov 2015

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