Los Padres National Forest
My little sister is in town and has some strange desire to find geocaches that were set in the first year after the signals from the global positioning satellites were unencrypted. As it happens, the first in the county meets that criterion and is conveniently located just off Camino Cielo. The road has deteriorated quite a bit in that area since I drove it in my Scion, but I can certainly get within two miles of relatively flat walking of the location. That was the plan until the Sherpa (Scherpa) Fire closed the road to all but firefighting equipment. Change of plans. It is also located a hop, skip, and a jump away from the top of the Tequepis Canyon Trail. Easy for me, but my sister has been living in a place where the 2400 foot climb would leave her floating in the air. She is wary of the eight mile round trip length and current temperatures. With assurances of sufficient shade and an easy grade, but mostly with the determination of someone who has been socializing with geocachers too much and decided to fill in December 2000 of her Jasmer matrix, she is willing to give it a try. The approach is becoming a curious mix of small, unwelcoming signs and large, overly welcoming signs before we pull into the marked dirt parking lot just before the gate to follow the signs along the main road through camp. Another group starts to gather as we pull out our stuff. It is already busier than when I came before, but that was on a Tuesday.
|The sign at the second gate on the way through camp. We just have to walk on through.|
It is nice and shady through camp, as promised. There are a couple caretakers, but it is otherwise empty today. Past this is a cutoff to another camp and a few driveways. The few driveways are helpfully marked as not trail in one way or another. Searching for and signing little pieces of paper in the woods slows us down a lot and the other group is outpacing us in spite of kids and dogs. They were not going as far, though, as we find them returning just short of the waterfall. I ask if that is where they went, but they do not know about it. How unfortunate. If there is energy later, we will go for the waterfall, but we skip it for now and climb the old road increasingly deteriorating into trail. Our views open up to the north as we climb, but it does mean that our shade is getting a bit more patchy.
|There are mountains out there. It looks a bit like pointy little Cachuma Peak to the right.|
|The old oil company claim is always a fun find and this time comes with a geocache at which we can be "first to find".|
|The first madrone stands tall in its thin red-orange bark.|
There are a few steep spots, but they do not last long. Mostly the climb is an easy grade. I had been waiting for the lake to fill to repeat this trail, but now it is even lower than before. Thick lines of stark white stretch longer as we climb, then low flats of green become visible. The different parts of the lake are changing in different ways.
|Lake Cachuma is stark white lines where steep and greening flats where not.|
|Broadcast Peak above is a little higher than we will go, but not so much.|
It is getting warm and some sections of sun are annoyingly long as we hit the middle of the climb. The views are often a little blocked, but we have some nice things close by to look at, too. Higher up, tall vegetation comes in again to really block out the view. There are even a few ferns and some very showy flowers as we near the top.
|A swallowtail butterfly with only one tail sips from some sage.|
|Not really considered shade on the east coast.|
|Humboldt lilies set up a showy display at one switchback.|
More hikers come up behind us as we make one last search before the top. We break out of the last pleasant section into one more section of sun. We are almost to the top and there will be no more shade. It is short and not at all steep, so not bad. It is certainly more comfortable than at the top.
|Nearing the top, we are higher than Camino Cielo as it approaches from the east.|
|The fire break at the top.|
There is a wide line of naked dirt along the top. The bulldozers have been here turning the usual fuel break into a proper fire break. A guy coming the other way helpfully points out where the trail continues down to the road. He went a couple miles down the road to where the remains of the fire can be seen. Happily, our destination is a little closer and easier to find, but we thank him for the information. The others who passed us just tagged nearby Broadcast Peak before heading down again. We pick our way along the hot dirt focusing more on the view that has really opened up on the mountain side and doubled with the addition of the ocean side.
|Goleta and Santa Barbara and a lot of ocean.|
|Previously hidden mountains off to the northeast as now visible.|
|Some very hairy mariposa lilies are going to seed at the edge of the fire break.|
|The dam is also quite exposed, of course.|
|Where there was once a river bed for the Santa Ynez River, but without the water to fill the lake, it cannot quite reclaim the bed either.|
After a while with the view, we turn to the little bit of climb on the hot dirt back to the trail. Heading back down the trail, it is obvious that my assertion that there is sufficient sun is much more true in the morning than in the afternoon. It is a lot more exposed the the bright orb now.
|It looks a bit like a spider has lost a battle with a wasp just before they quickly vanish into a hole.|
Sore feet and tired legs when we reach the waterfall turnoff mean leaving it. It is probably dry. We can hear no water running in the pipes that collect it from above the falls and take it to the camp. The GPS sets the total distance at more like nine miles as we finish.
©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 1 August 2016