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.

PLSS marker
A somewhat cryptic section corner set by the county surveyors.

Grade Valley
At the top of the hill overlooking Grade Valley. Thorn Point rises on the far side.

low hills in the valley
Down in the valley. Low hills now surround us.

Being Friday, there are a few people around, but not quite so many as on a weekend. There was a single jeep in the morning heading out past the end of the Piano Box loop, a motorcycle on the main road, and the backpacker from yesterday leaving. Lunch brings a guy with government plates moving at a good clip. Ranger Roy has lots of good information for us. He says the water in the ford is halfway up his door, but I am not worried about that because I have found a walking route around all of them at some point.

gauging station
Piru Creek has some rock outcrops, like this near the old gauging station.

We head down past Halfmoon to the end of the road and return. Somehow there is a small hatchback coming down the road at us as we hit a spot that is narrowed due to a downed tree. We are too stunned to ask the smiling occupants how they forded the big ford in their little Ford. One theory is maneuvering around the side, but the plants seem to grow right up to the edge of the pool of the ford. I think they must have skipped it like a stone because that is what my dad managed to do with his Volkswagen Beetle once. He also (claims to have) successfully floated it. Maybe a Ford Fiesta can float too.

Piru Creek
The erosion is often interesting as the Piru Creek passes over one of the many rock flats in its path.

Heading back from Halfmoon, it is curious, but it seems like it is an easier ride. The other way is downhill overall. It has to be, the creek is flowing that way. The road does climb hills here and there while the creek is dropping so little it crosses nearly no contour lines. Maybe the hills are just steeper in the other direction. As we get to the big ford, there is a rather long legged woman walking the ford to decide if they want to take their rather capable looking Jeep across. Roy was not fibbing, the water is higher than her knees. We decide to give a little encouragement and watch the show before finishing the ride. Not halfway up the doors on this one, but it sure is deep.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 21 May 2016

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