31 January 2016


Too many big hikes or too many hikes with others, there does seem to have been a rather large break in sketches.  All excuses, there should have been more.  I should get back to something smaller than a super wide angle of the distant world once in a while, too.  When I did finally open up the dry bag, I had a nasty surprise.  Quite a lot of water had gotten in at some point.  I am pretty certain when and I should not have left the bag in the pack for that incident.  The old dry bag is a bit holed after the many years with various sketch books.  The previous sketches are damaged.  Less than I expected, more than I want.  The rest will all be a bit dirty and the ink does not sit on the paper in quite the same way now that the sizing has been washed.  It is a cookie, it has crumbled, and this is the way of it.

I took the last day of the year to wander up to San Marcos Foothills and try out a new brush pen. These dogs walked past, more interested in looking around than moving back to the car, as I got the ink flowing, but they had to be in it.

Sat for lunch with a view of the islands on Sulphur Mountain.

Another attempt to record the rockiness out on White Ledge while on a little loop.

30 January 2016

Saddle Rock

Santa Barbara front country

I finally stopped searching for a "light weight tripod" and tried searching for a "one pound tripod" instead and this search has yielded much better fruit. I found a backpacking light post to help me out. Well, a little. The original information is actually on a blog and the writer just links to the blog rather than the particular post that is of interest. Wherever that blog post is, I do not know, but a post about making the original tripod lighter is pretty easy to find. Not so easy to understand why it wouldn't come up with the original search. Anyway, that seems a dead end because the tripod (Giottos RT-8150) is not available anymore. On it goes. But the price on the tripod does give a clue to finding the lightest of them. They are also the cheapest. Well, compromises must be made to get the lightest, usually. I tried digging through the tripod offerings of a large online camera shop and found many at about 1.3 pounds. Then there it was with totally different branding, a tripod that comes in at just a pound but is not made to just sit on table tops. The Polaroid PLTRI42 42" travel tripod with panhead. It even claims to have steel legs and is delightfully compact when not in use. It also has a weight limit of only 2 pounds, so I got one of those 1.3 pound tripods to handle the DSLR. It is slightly more than that with the longer zoom lens.

two tripods
Sunpak 5200 DLX (52 inch height) and Polaroid PLTRI42 tripods, which are only $20 each.

It might be fun to photograph a few city lights from above to try out the tripod, so with the larger one in hand, I start up the hill at San Ysidro heading for the flat area above Saddle Rock. It is not the closest trailhead, but after playing with the camera there, I can try it out a little more with a somewhat different view on the way back.

Montecito and Carpinteria
Overlooking Montecito and Carpinteria from the Edison Catway west of San Ysidro Trail.

Arriving with two minutes to sunset, there is not much time to enjoy the big red ball dropping below the horizon, but there is plenty of time to enjoy dusk. A little bit too much time.

tiny bit of sun left
Set up and ready as the very last of the direct sunlight vanishes behind the earth.

24 January 2016

Twin Peaks

Ojai front country

After just over five miles of hiking, I was not quite ready to say I was done. It is only 2PM. Anyway, I had a plan for finishing early: check out trails on the western side of the main trail.

Horn Canyon sign
Back so soon? Heading out along Horn Canyon again.

Quickly, there is an unmarked trail to the left that shows quite a lot of use. This crosses the creek and wiggles up first unused, then used road. I was not looking for a road, so when L. Moore promises to parallel the lower trail up the canyon, I go for it. From it, there is a trail marked Twin Peaks. I am not really looking for something all the way up to the local peaks, so keep on going. L. Moore tops out at a spot marked "Parkers Corner" then clearly heads back down into the canyon. Well, there was a sign for it down there, so that makes sense. This is not what I want either, so back to the last trail and start climbing.

bottom of Twin Peaks Trail
If you want a trail, here is a trail.

tiny bit of grass
Getting climbing past a tiny meadow.

Thacher Canyon

Ojai front country

Hike along Horn Canyon and it is difficult not to notice the many trails that wander away from it, most of them with signs. They wander about a bit in loops, but where do they go? What do they see? My memory of how to get to the trail did not fail. It is easy enough, just through the gate and keep right onto some dirt, across the ford, and there are parking spots. It is Sunday and there are a few other cars. A sign at the start informs me that The Pines is closed and I should pass through with great care because so many of the trees have died but still stand. The canyon is still cool and there are a lot of people coming and going as I start up it. A short conversation with one hiker about where the trail goes has me confused as he asks, "And that's the end of the hike?" This trail connects with others and those connect with others. There is no "end" to this hike. As I am waxing poetic about the nature of trails and ends in my head, likely with puzzled expressions playing across my face, I realize I should probably give him a much simpler answer and tell him it ends exactly where he says it ends. He actually seems to find that very satisfactory.

observatory on a hill
There are a number of buildings for the school, but the only one I really notice is the observatory.

Burch Collins
Trail sign to start up the Burch Collins Trail.

21 January 2016

San Emigdio and Brush Mountains

Los Padres National Forest

On one side of the San Andres Rift, Mount Pinos rises more than 8800 feet to be the highest point in Los Padres. On the other side of the rift, there seems to be a little less crumpling where the mountains only rise nearly 7500 feet. The seed of desire to go up San Emigdio Mountain was probably planted while I recorded my newly climbed Hundred Peaks Section listed peaks after I traversed from Mount Pinos to Cerro Noroeste (AKA Abel) then dropped down to the San Emigdio Mesa. Next to my new mountains was another with the same name of the mesa and I rather liked the mesa. Then I found out the mountain was not there, but on the other side of Mount Pinos and much of the desire fell away. Somewhere, a little bit of the seed remained.

More recently, I was looking at some geocaches set in the area and thinking about the mountain again. There are two listed peaks in the area and San Emigdio is practically a drive up at just 0.2 miles round trip from the parking area accessible by most cars. Where is the challenge in that? The other one is at least a two mile round trip from the end of the two wheel drive accessible road, but still little challenge. At this time of year, both roads are closed and will remain so until early May. The snow level is currently 6500 feet, 1000 feet below the taller peak and 500 feet below the shorter. However, the last storm through was warm enough to be rain at these elevations and even the nights seem to be above freezing if the National Weather Service can be trusted. I picked the second of two expected gorgeous days in a row and went for it. Since it was hard to even pull off 10 miles in some days going through too much snow back in spring, it is nice to know that the moon will be rising nice and big as the sun goes down. In a nice, new pair of waterproof boots to keep my feet dry, I am off.

fir trees
Already hitting snow patches as I climb up the road past some nice trees.

The gate is locked, as expected, and the road in front of the gate is a mess of deep tire tracks. Behind it, it is just smooth road. As I climb, I can hear radio chatter from the speakers at the fire house at the saddle. Patches of snow pop up quickly in sheltered areas and many foot prints cross them. The footing is less stable where the snow is already compacted, so I add another set. The climb is easy, but it does feel like it is getting somewhere.

Mount Pinos
Looking across to Mount Pinos and wondering if I will get to see it fall into the ocean from the safety of the North American Plate. Probably not.

12 January 2016

Sulphur Mountain Road

Ventura County Park

Zooming down the 101 and then zooming down the 33, it is odd to just turn a corner and find myself facing a gate in a dark bit of canyon with very little around me. A calf on the road (on the wrong side of the gate) hints at what is to come. The gate is my starting point for a long climb a mere 2200 feet in about ten miles. This should be a better place to try out my new mountain bike. It is a bit long, but I could certainly handle it walking. It is just walking the downhill that I dread. That slow, slight downhill makes my legs want desperately to get it over with and I can definitely get out of it with the bike.

gate signs
Some of the information at the gate at the start. More is on a kiosk to the side.

Although the overall climb might not be much, the road does seem to be making a serious start at it. A ditch down the side is full of water, which is not odd considering the recent rains. Everything is wet at the moment. Under it, the dirt is dark with tar. Further up, the dark covers a large area where the source, an oil seep, is. Well, those oil derricks along the road were trying to pull something up and there is a sample.

oil and water
The residue from the local oil seep.

As a kid, I spent some time at the Girl Scout Program Center below. All three camps I went to are gone, but this one place remains. I mostly remember the pick-your-own apples that were a holdover from its history as an apple orchard. Today, I cannot spot any apples, but they would be nude now that it is winter. Surely there must be a few left. We did other things there too, but the apples were unique to this place. I go back to climbing and finding ever lower gears as my legs quickly tire. It feels a lot harder to climb on the bike, maybe even harder than running it.

White Ledge
White Ledge presiding over Casitas Springs and the rest of the Ojai area.

08 January 2016

Fremont Ridge

Los Padres National Forest

I headed up the pass and over to Fremont Ridge to try out my new mountain bike in the late afternoon. It is pretty much a toy. I somehow overshot the gate and found myself at Knapp's Castle instead, so went high and took a few photos. It is nice to see a bit of snow out on Little Pine and some more distant, taller peaks. Makes one think there may be such a thing as winter, at least at 6000 feet and above.

distant snow
Just a little bit of snow up on Little Pine Mountain.

false sunset
Still nearly an hour to sunset, but there are colors over the ocean.

Santa Ynez Valley
More of the Santa Ynez Valley.

On my second pass by the gate, I did manage to notice it and stop in the parking. Someone else stopped too, which turned out to be the present owner of the castle wanting to meet his neighbors. There are a few down there. Presented with a great opportunity to ask if we will see the castle in its splendor again soon, I completely failed to ask. There is certainly activity over there, but I had seen nothing new about the area from my vantage point on the ridge.

04 January 2016

Arroyo Burro

Santa Barbara front country

The rain did not start at midnight and it is still somewhat warm and sunny and I could jaunt at least a little way up the hill before the green shadow passing Lompoc on the weather map gets to here. I almost take the turn for Gibraltar Road before remembering where I am headed up by the water filtration plant. So off I go, on the still quite dry trail. The poison oak is almost entirely dormant making the picnic table in the middle of it look much more inviting. The junction to start up Arroyo Burro instead of Jesusita is still marked. There is plenty of dirt beside the steep paved road to walk on and it remains well marked, too. With the utility road section, it all seems steeper and harder than I remember. Maybe that easy slope yesterday spoiled me for this. Whatever, it does give ample opportunity to just turn around and try to take in what may be the most expansive views of the city that the trails have to offer.

Cathedral Peak
The cathedral sized cave below the Cathedral Peak high point is quite clearly visible from this vantage point.

light patterns
The light is so often amazing in the winter time.

03 January 2016

Juncal Canyon

Los Padres National Forest

If the gate was open, it surely would not be closed until evening and I could surely get out before that, was my thinking as I popped over the hill to find it open. There is just that little bit of road from the lake to the top that I have not seen and I am aiming to put that to right now. It should be a very easy hike, just a bit long. I get moving over the first couple miles that are virtually flat and then the climb to get higher than the dam before leveling off again.

Santa Ynez River
Standing on the ford of the Santa Ynez River below Juncal Dam. The mistletoe gives a bright and cheery green to the sycamores otherwise nude for winter.

Juncal Canyon
Looking down wide and flat canyon of the Santa Ynez River.

01 January 2016

hikes of 2016

 Juncal Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 3

 Arroyo Burro Trail, Santa Barbara front country: Jan 4

 Fremont Ridge, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 8

 Sulphur Mountain Road, Ventura County Park: Jan 12

 San Emigdio and Brush Mountains, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 21

 Thacher Canyon, Ojai front country: Jan 24

 Twin Peaks, Ojai front country: Jan 24

 Saddle Rock, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 30

 Gorilla Rock, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 2

 Santa Barbara Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 19-21

 Tinta Creek and Apache Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 26

 Dry Canyon, Grade Valley, and Pine Mountain Ridge Road, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 27

 Sandstone Peak to Big Sycamore Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains NRA and Point Mugu State Park: Mar 6

 Escondido Falls, Malibu: Mar 8

 Carmlee Wilderness Park, Malibu: Mar 8

 Grass Mountain, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 15

 Tuttle Creek Ashram, Inyo National Forest: Mar 19

 Tyee Lakes Trail, Inyo National Forest: Mar 20

 Blue Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 25

 Sandy Point, Death Valley National Park: Apr 2

 Last Chance Mountain, Death Valley National Park: Apr 3

 Devil's Canyon, LA County Trails: Apr 12

 Rocky Pine Ridge, Los Padres National Forest: Apr 19

 Simi Peak, Oakbrook Open Space: Apr 22

 Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park: Apr 24

 San Francisquito Canyon, Angeles National Forest: Apr 30

 Camino Cielo, Los Padres National Forest: May 2

 Jupiter Mountain, Angeles National Forest: May 5

 Fishbowls, Los Padres National Forest: May 12

 Arroyo Burro, Los Padres National Forest: May 23

 Romero Canyon, Santa Barbara front country: May 31

 Black Mountain and Split Mountain, Sequoia National Forest: Jun 4

 Bohna Peak, Sequoia National Forest: Jun 5

 Sunday Peak, Sequoia National Forest: Jun 5

 Maxwell Trail, Angeles National Forest: Jul 10

 Atmore Meadows, Angeles National Forest: Jul 11

 Burnt Peak, Angeles National Forest: Jul 11

 Yucca Trail, Gaviota State Park: Jun 26

 Monach Mountain, Templeton Mountain, Jordan Hot Springs, Sequoia National Forest: Jun 28-Jul 1

 Tequepis Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Jul 3

 Eagle Rock, Warner Springs Ranch: Jul 8

 Big Laguna, Cleveland National Forest: Jul 9

 Grizzly Creek, White River National Forest: Jul 11

 Hanging Lake, White River National Forest: Jul 11

 Flat Tops, White River National Forest: Jul 12-17

 Buffalo Mountain, White River National Forest: Jul 19

 Mount Williamson, Inyo National Forest: Jul 24-29

 Ortega Reservoir, Summerland: Aug 13

 Millard Canyon Falls, Angeles National Forest: Aug 19

 Holy Jim Falls, Cleveland National Forest: Aug 20

 Matilija Falls, Los Padres National Forest: Sep 6

 Fish Creek, Los Padres National Forest: Sep 25

 Flores Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Oct 5

 Lizard Head, Los Padres National Forest: Oct 22

 Mission Pine Basin, Los Padres National Forest: Oct 24-28

 Pacifico Mountain, Angeles National Forest: Oct 29

 McDonald Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Nov 4

 Alamo Mountain, Los Padres National Forest: Nov 4

 Sewart, White, and Cobblestone Mountains, Los Padres National Forest: Nov 5

 Sewart Mountain, Snowy Peak, and Black Mountain, Los Padres National Forest: Nov 6

 La Purisima Mission grounds, La Purisima State Historic Park: Nov 25

 Antimony and Eagle Rest Peaks, Los Padres National Forest: Nov 30

 Superstition Mountains, Tonto National Forest: Dec 5-9

 Warren Point, Joshua Tree National Park: Dec 10

 Malapai Hill: Joshua Tree National Park: Dec 10

 Eureka Peak: Joshua Tree National Park: Dec 11

 Gorilla Rock, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 20

 Aliso Canyon and Nineteen Oaks, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 28

 Potrero John, Los Padres National Forest: Dec 29