30 November 2016

Antimony and Eagle Rest Peaks

Los Padres National Forest

I had a good time stomping around in the early snows last year climbing up some peaks on the Hundred Peaks Section list, so with the coming of the new snows I thought about doing some more in the area. The peak guide for Eagle Rest refers to a final class 3 climb to reach the summit, which sounds like something best avoided in winter, so I let that fancy go again. A couple weeks later, I noticed the Doggetts were actually leading a hike to those peaks. Ignacia has completed the list six times and Peter has managed it thirteen times. If they think it can be done, it probably can. The only person who has done it more is a character called Mars Bonfire. (I am assured this is a real person, really called that, and otherwise famous. He has a Wikipedia page that does not even mention his twenty-five list finishes. He has moved on to other adventures now.) I sent off an email to express interest and found myself signed up. They even scouted it the day before to make sure the gate was open and the road passable. All this leads to a group of six gathering at a snowy trailhead just after 8 AM.

prospects along the side of the road
We start off on snow compacted to a couple inches which largely finishes off as we come upon a couple old prospects.

The trail we are following initially is an old mining road that is one continuation of the road we drove in on. It is covered in a couple inches of snow that fell over the weekend. We wind our way down it, breaking up the clean snow as we go. It levels off, crossing a wide saddle, and the snow largely vanishes. Beside it in the saddle are two holes surrounded by tailings supporting the notion that this is an old mining road. We drop through one avoiding a fallen tree on the road. Further on, we continue on a gentle downhill around the next peak. It looks like this area gets the afternoon sun and there is very little snow now. The downhill finishes with a few slides and a short, steep section past an old gate. Peter points out that when he was first hiking these peaks, they could drive to here.

old road shadowed by pinon pines
Still deep morning shadows under the pinons on this abandoned road.

old gate along a decaying road
One last drop past an old gate to a thin saddle below Antimony Peak.

27 November 2016

Rae Lakes

Kings Canyon National Park

August 1992

Rae Lakes loop with a couple little spurs

Day 1

My dad saw an opportunity to revisit the famous Rae Lakes loop from Roads End in Kings Canyon by taking myself and my little sister around it. Plans were for a week in the wilderness taking some time to head on down to Charlotte Lake and a day up in the Sixty Lake Basin. We got to the ranger kiosk to get a permit around the time it opened, but this was already too late to get three for Woods Creek. Instead, we got three for the less popular counter-clockwise direction up Bubbs Creek. We had day hiked up to middle Paradise Valley at one point, so this was the unfamiliar side. (I distinctly remember that hike, 14 miles and the longest I had done for many years, as the one I broke in my boots that was wearing and I later cut up on my second trip up Mount Whitney.) The permit being the last thing to pack, we set out on the trail.

It starts off very easy on an upward grade next to the river that is so gradual it is difficult to notice. The trail is sandy. We were not in a hurry, so we rolled along through the sand using the least amount of extra energy. Sand mostly punishes those in a hurry. It was not long before we came to the river crossing and obediently followed our permit on the serious climb up Bubbs Creek. The other direction is popular because it is a gentle climb all the way to the lakes.

Kings River
The view while climbing up Bubbs Creek.

Bubbs Creek
A little bit of water.

25 November 2016

La Purisima Mission grounds

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

The mission of La Purisima is quite an elaborate set up these days with a giant visitor center full of displays showing what once stood here and details about life, and buildings around the place appointed like they might have been while it was a working mission. We are skipping all of this for the trails around the buildings today. The trails are a wide dirt road and a lot of sandy tracks that are generally named. First, we head up the hill toward the cross. Today, the sand is wet and generally holds together well under our feet as we climb. It is not consistently sand, but quite a lot is, so the little bit of extra firmness is quite nice.

mission buildings
A few of the mission buildings and the wide road that goes past them to the grounds further.

cross on the hillside
A large cross on the hillside above.

We quickly turn off the wide and solid road to climb the hillside toward the cross. It is a short, steady climb to get to this viewpoint.

long buildings
Halfway up and the buildings are starting to be more clearly laid out below.

06 November 2016

Sewart Mountain, Snowy Peak, and Black Mountain

Los Padres National Forest

Another 6 AM morning and the group of Hundred Peaks Section peak baggers are assembled again at Buck Creek Trailhead. Since we are still subject to the stupid idea of changing our clocks twice a year, it is quite a bit brighter this today than yesterday.

Buck Creek Trailhead
The sign at the trailhead.

It gets even brighter as we deal with a little car trouble on a car that is driving out this morning. Once they can be sent off safely, we roll out down the hill to start climbing Sewart Mountain once again. The hardest part of the climb is still getting over and around all the logs on the trail.

tree on the trail
Another run through the obstacle course.

Warm Springs Mountain
Looking toward Warm Springs Mountain. Sure is pretty with the morning mist still in place.

south from Sewart Mountain
The view south from Sewart Mountain includes Mugu Peak looking a bit like the west side of an island across the Oxnard plain and a little Catalina Island behind the Santa Monica Mountains.

05 November 2016

Sewart, White, and Cobblestone Mountains

Los Padres National Forest

It is 6 AM sharp and we are assembled at Buck Creek Trailhead and ready to start the big hike of the weekend. The sun will not be seen for another hour, so lights are on. We are starting off in another area that was hit hard by the Day Fire in 2006 and there are lots of trees down on the trail. This one has been being used by hunters over the last few weeks, so there is plenty of trail snaking around the downed logs. A clear old bulldozer track marks a much more direct route that is probably the trail through this section. The trees are so bad, our track only flirts with the trail a bit.

Some blurry beginnings of light in the east, but mostly light reflecting from bright do-not-shoot-us clothing.

The first peak is Sewart Mountain and we will actually be climbing it four times this weekend. It is only a mile along, so we get to it quite quickly. The sun has still not come up, but there is enough dawn light to tuck away our headlamps as we cluster onto the rocky spot a little higher than all around it.

Sewart Mountain
On Sewart Mountain in the dawn light. They are pointing at the final goal (besides getting back): Cobblestone Mountain.

Cobblestone Mountain
The bulk of Cobblestone Mountain rises dark against the dawn light.

04 November 2016

Alamo Mountain

Los Padres National Forest

The second Hundred Peaks Section peak of the day is Alamo Mountain. It is the tall one for the weekend, but not much more work that the last peak to actually stand on the top. There is plenty of room for all the vehicles near a turn that seems to be chosen at random. We could start from anywhere around the road that loops the top, as long as there is parking. I have always walked up from Twin Pines on the other side before. This route starts higher for an easier climb.

gentle hillside
The gentle hillside on the way to the peak.

Well, it might be an easier climb except for the Day Fire in 2006. This area was hard hit and after 10 years, most the trees have fallen. We have a lot of trees to climb over on our way up.

logs on the hillside
Clambering over the logs.

McDonald Peak

Los Padres National Forest

Another weekend, anther peak to grab with the Hundred Peaks Section, or so it seems. Except this weekend is coming a little earlier and has a few more peaks. I think of it as "Alamo and friends" because that is the big mountain in the group, but the others are calling a "Cobblestone Complex Cleanout" because that is seen as the hard peak of the weekend. Cobblestone does stand out in the mind and actually is my main motivation to sign up for this madness. It starts off easy, though. First thing is a little jaunt up McDonald Peak. It is short and not even particularly steep.

McDonald Peak
McDonald Peak is right over there, behind the tree.

Parking is a bit of a challenge for our group. There is really space for 2 cars, but there are 20 of us and we fit in 4 cars. It seems there are ways. From the parking area, there is a thin track climbing the hill. We gather beside it, don a few pieces of bright garb in recognition of the last weekend of hunting season, and start up.

The climb. It is quite gentle. We are all packed for a much longer trip since longer trips are the main focus.

Hungry Valley
Some Day Fire 2006 destruction on the way to Hungry Valley.

Ecological Staircase to the Pygmy Forest

Jug Handle State Natural Preserve Click for map. I noticed an Earthcache that looked interesting as it asks for study of an area wi...