31 May 2016


A good month for quick sketches.

High on the ridge along Camino Cielo, there are places to find water.

A murky day on Jupiter Mountain for signing summit registers.

Finding plenty of pool in the Fishbowl, although it still has some to go.

Pondering the road cut above beside a sign on Arroyo Burro Road that is irrelevant to me.

The signs of man are few when the clouds seek to hide all below.

Climb up Romero Canyon Trail or Road and there is still a little further to go to the top by a benchmark.

The crossing between road and trail in Romero Canyon is comical in many ways.

And with that, my poor abused sketchbook has been filled.  I was going to leave the last page, which has had quite a lot of purple out of the black cover transferred to it when the book got soggy, but I was without a charged camera and I usually end up with about three sketches on days like that.  Three finished off every page.  Now on to the next!  It is Bee Paper's "super deluxe" which is one I've had before and is a little bigger, so tends to require more time spent on each sketch.  Will it get abused too?  It seems likely.  The last one did, whether that refers to the last super deluxe or the last sketchbook.

Romero Canyon

Santa Barbara front country

Today is the day I will head up to the BLUE benchmark. It sits and it teases me. It would be so easy to find it from the road at the top. There are actually a few old road cuts around it that might be fun to explore and do appear to get hiked on. I have decided to do it the hard way, from the bottom. I will hike the long and easy road up, then drop down the quick way along the trail. A lazy start is easy when the city is covered in cloud and nice and cool while knowing there is plenty of light. As I start, I am quickly in the clouds rather than under them. They shroud everything in a bit of mystery.

up the road in the fog
Clouds dancing around the foothills as I climb along the road. The monkey flowers are still putting on a show.

I can hear water in the creek below. It actually sounds a little louder than it has. Perhaps in the cool and with little sun, the trees are not doing much with it today. There is a spring house along the way below the road and it also is quite loud with the movement of water. The creek crossing just before the trail starts looks like it might be a little higher than I have been seeing. The trail is for later, so I stick to the road and continue on its wide excursion right out of the canyon.

23 May 2016

Arroyo Burro

Los Padres National Forest

Continuing on my quest to get to those sneaky trails that have somehow managed not to be stomped under my feet, I drove up to the high point of Arroyo Burro Trail. The front side of this trail is the hard part stretching 7 miles from city to top with steep sections and a big drop in the middle while you are trying to climb. The back side is a much tamer trail with the caveat that there is a designated shooting area just off the high point. The vast majority of debris left by shooters shows that they usually do so in a safe direction, but a few pieces and the old targets up the hill next to the road show this is not entirely the case. As I start, there are a couple guys with their cars wide open shooting at things well away from the road. They insist on being utterly oblivious to my presence, even when not firing, so it is a tad uncomfortable to pass until there is a nice, solid hill between me and them. The trail starts down just beyond the hill and gate although the sign for it is set well back so that I have to know where to go before getting it confirmed.

rusted sign hanging over the thin trail
On the trail and a rested, shot sign points the way to White Oak Camp and Santa Ynez River Road. It is four miles to the second.

The transition from road to trail is awkward, but it soon settles down. The brush is close and feels especially so as I duck under some shoulder high poison oak leaves. Below the encroaching brush, the tread is solid. The marks on it tell a story of popularity with mountain bikers while hikers and horses also pass. All the marks look sharp and fresh. There are few views out, all of them framed by the vegetation. The brief fire of bullets between long pauses is quickly muffled and the trail loops around and the madrones, then oaks close in.

circles of flowers
Chinese houses are offering up some wonderful detail to compensate for the lack of views.

globes of white
Fairy lanterns offer to light the houses.

river and mountains
A brief view right down to the river below and the road on the other side more typically called Paradise.

The trail bounces between two thin and rocky bottomed gashes, each quite dry at the moment. What little can be seen of the local area is largely vertical and the distance traveled overall by the trail is not much. It is just ever downward in the thin green tunnel.

14 May 2016

Frazier Mountain mines

Los Padres National Forest

For a second day of geocaching by bicycle, we decided on a bit of dirt that climbs up to an area of many mines, then drops back down again. This is easy to set up a shuttle for because it is nicely paved between the ends. The road is quite another matter. It does say it is easy for motorcycles, ATVs, or Jeeps. For bicycles, it is steep. The start rolls steeply and then it just starts climbing. All through, it is full of big, loose rocks. Trying to climb is frustrating as they slip out from under tires and generally push me about. If it is not rocks, it is sand. All the while, there are plenty of ruts to get caught in.

Lockwood Valley
Looking out over Lockwood Valley to Cuddy Valley. There are some advantages to climbing.

bright orange
Some very deep orange and often very short Mariposa lilies seem to live up here.

13 May 2016

Grade Valley

Los Padres National Forest

I stuck around to play on my bicycle in Grade Valley. Bruce wants to try to grab all the geocaches along the way and this is one of the places I can see going ahead and doing that. There are plenty out on Lockwood Road, too, and I cannot see going after those. Luckily, he already has. We got to the top of the Piano Box loop when riding in the afternoon behind the locked gate, so we start there and leave a car at the bottom of the big hill so we do not have to ride back up it.

on a bicycle on a dirt road
Starting off to bicycle the Piano Box loop.

many petals
Low and elaborate flowers.

There are other things left by man to find in this valley. There are quite a lot of Public Land Survey System markers shown on the map. Noticing a location poster, I just have to see if I can find it. How big was a chain again? 66 feet? The poster is rather sloppy about the location. It is just 1.5 chains "paced" to the NE. It should not be hard to find something roughly 100 feet in roughly thata-way anyway and indeed it is not.

12 May 2016


Los Padres National Forest

The Fishbowls were not very impressive two years ago after I climbed all the way from the Sespe River to see them. This year, with the road open and some better reports from last year, I decided to head out on a slightly shorter loop to see them again. Passage along the road is not a given for a little car with 6" ground clearance, but a short wheel base and not too much nose help. There are a couple stones on the steep hill down that require driving around rather than over and one ditch that takes a little careful maneuvering, but without too much effort or anything important scraping, I am at the trailhead parking. There is one other car already there. Will I have to share them? I do not spend long thinking about it. The day is forecast to be on the hot side and the sun has already been working on the land for 3 hours. I find the thin line through the grass behind the kiosk and follow it as it becomes more definite and starts to climb.

trailhead from the trail
The trailhead as I leave it. It has parking, toilet, and an informative kiosk.

short hills and the mountain beyond
Once the trail traveled beside the creek but now the reroute to avoid an inholding gives a minor overview of the area after a short climb. Short hills nearby and a real mountain rising behind.

05 May 2016

Jupiter Mountain

Angeles National Forest

The stars are still no aligned for Jupiter Mountain. The low chance of rain looks rather like it will materialize, although the amount may not be much, and it is a bit colder than expected. The clouds are low over the mountains, but not so low as the peaks. There is some slight promise of clearing. Where the mountains stop and the flat desert starts, there is a bit of blue visible. The potential of rain seems like a stronger promise. Parking is easy in a large turnout at the bottom of Spunky Edison. The trail is unmarked as it starts climbing past a water tank.

psudo gate
The trail starts among a grove of pines that appear planted.

It starts off looking like road. I go left; the other side loops through the trees that occupy the saddle. The ground is terraced and the trees are unique to the area. It could be an old tree farm. The trail passes a water tank and splits again. This time I go right and shortly find the climbing thin track I am expecting. There are two routes up to the top of Jupiter: this trail to the fuel break and climbing the gentler west slope or the fuel break directly to climb the steep east slope. I want to hit the western peak known as Juno as well and am not looking for a brutal but quick climb just to say I have been there, so I will approach from the west.

three caterpillars having their day
The caterpillars are out and munching, but very, very slowly in the cool.

dirt track ahead
Climbing along a well established trail.

Grass Mountain
Grass Mountain sits across Green Valley near the edge of the clouds.

02 May 2016

Camino Cielo

Los Padres National Forest

I decided it was time to check one more never done local hike off the list. Camino Cielo once went a lot further than it does today, almost to Franklin Trail according to my 1944 Carpinteria map. After that, it was Ocean View Trail for a while until it took up being a camino again. Now there is a little bit of road at that very far end, but this part ends at Romero Saddle. To hike the rest, just go to the end of the pavement and park. What could be easier? Well, a few signs might help.
The second bag of water feels heavy in my pack, but it is getting toward summer and water is important. Below, the city is under a thick blanket of low clouds, but it is bright sunshine here. It was probably foolish to be lazy and just check the temperature expected for the city when gauging the weather for today. With my arrival time and the expected time of dark, turnaround time should probably be 2:30PM. Well, maybe I can push that to 3PM. At the end of the pavement, a steep track climbs directly up a hill. Barricades have been placed to attempt to stop motorcyclists and clearly had no thought to the hikers before they were disabled. This is my trail. It is a well worn track over the first hill and around the back of the second, but then the track turns downhill with Romero Canyon Trail. A much thinner trail heads north and another one east. I continue along the east.

bright yellow bursts all over a bush
The bush poppies are really going strong now, like these in front of Blue Peak.

along the path
Top of the first hill and looking along the line of peaks ahead.

sea of clouds
A sea of clouds laps at Romero Canyon. Santa Cruz Island in the distance is just a small peak today.