28 March 2016

Santa Barbara and Dry Canyons

Los Padres National Forest

I am back at Santa Barbara Canyon, but this time without any keys, to see about reaching Cuyama Peak from the north. I do not really have any expectation of doing so as it is 13-14 miles to get there. The bicycle does not seem to be extending my range much for the day, but maybe it is the stopping for geocaches that is keeping my range down. Bruce is along again, and his goal is the geocaches. We are starting a little later than planned because his navigation thought it would be a good idea to go on the direct route on 9N11 from the highway, a route requiring high clearance, 4 wheel drive, and The Knowledge, rather than the longer route along Foothill which is almost entirely paved and easy to navigate even in your low rider. But leave your low rider, that stuff is only cool in the city and is quite the opposite out here. Besides the rancher taking a couple head off to their destiny and the rest wandering about waiting for their turn, there is no activity out here. Well, there is the wind too, blowing over carpets of yellow and bright green. It is a cool day, but it is decidedly spring.

numerous bright yellow flowers and a few purple
The carpets of yellow are too short for mustard. Up close, they turn out to be daisies.

We pick our way past the gate and ride through the natural red rock gate of the canyon. It is an easy slope and actually rolls a bit for this first section. The rocks change quickly as we go.

red rocks, white rocks, soft rocks, hard rocks
The canyon entry in panorama from the inside.

well graded road
The road ahead past some concrete pieces of unknown origin.

We climb with the road, but the creek below does not do much. Eventually, as we turn a corner, we are about to loose a lot of elevation. So much hard won elevation. But so it goes. Below is the signed junction.

another daisy
More daisies along the way.

Dry Canyon
Dry Canyon from our vantage point.

We drop down quickly. It is not so far, really, and this the bike does nice and fast. The sign claims another nine miles to the peak. Well, we will never know unless we try. The road will get progressively steeper as we go. We work around another gate noting the clear mark of a motorcycle that has done the same not too long ago. It is already steeper than when we started. There are also a lot of sections where 6-8 inch stones have washed over the road to make riding up particularly difficult.

places to go
We come to Dry Canyon Road. It is nice to see a sign that has fared well over the years. The Dick Smith Wilderness trails sign to the right has not been so lucky.

white thorn in bloom by the road
Looking back as we climb. The white thorn ceanothus I was hacking at a few weeks ago is now puffs of white everywhere.

yellow metal eaten by a tree
A yellow corner of what could have been the start of a little adventure, but the only thing I can read of this location poster is the day and year it was placed.

Soon enough, we do turn around. The chunky rocks are a lot more rideable on the way down, but there are a few spots that I am loath to try. Hopping off and walking a few feet hurts so much less than falling over into a pile of stones.

graded road and mountains
The way forward. Is the lookout on that one on the far right?

not so smooth road
The way back, through some of the lesser chunky stuff.

After the rest, of sorts, coming down the hill again, we head up the other road. There are a few geocaches there over a much shorter distance. This road is easier to ride. Some of it is so shallow a climb that my perception is that we are going downhill. We do work a little at it, but maybe that is just against the friction of the bike. Okay, so there is a lot of friction if that is it.

lady bug beetle in juniper
A lady bug, or more likely a lady bug beetle, in the well fruited juniper tree beside the trailhead.

There is water in the last crossing before the road comes to another gate. We continue just a little way past this where there are some particularly lush meadows. The road continues on in its nice, easy rises and falls from here, but I can see in the distance where it starts to switchback up toward high Sierra Madre Road.

more graded road
Still more green along the continuation of the road past the second gate.

big puff of purple
Caterpillar phacelia are well represented in the meadows with fiddlenecks and foxtails.

Coming to the end of our string of Easter eggs to hunt, we turn back again. Now the parts that seemed to maybe be downhill really are downhill. Returning sure is quick.

canyon views
Rolling downhill as a bit of weather rolls in.

The day's cool temperatures came with a slight chance of rain and as we roll back, the clouds roll in. The question of what they will do and when they will do it hangs in the air with them. As it turns out, they will rain and they will do it just as we are packed up and starting back out to set up the cars for the ride tomorrow. As with all lucky occurrences with weather, I totally planned that.

yellow fields
Fields of fiddlenecks and daisies beside the road as we head out with the rain starting.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 31 Mar 2016

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