29 December 2016

Potrero John

Los Padres National Forest

Just enough time for some real hiking in the form of an afternoon hike out to the first waterfall in Potrero John. Hopefully. With a couple pauses, we launch ourselves into the narrow canyon that starts off the hike. The crossings are not running very high and there are bits of frozen ground rather than mud still. There is a little mud, too, but there are ways around it.

mouth of the canyon
The initial opening into the canyon of Potrero John Creek.

wilderness sign
One shinny new wilderness sign to mark the boundary of the Sespe Wilderness.

snow on a log
A little bit of icy snow remaining in the more northern portions of the narrow canyon.

The canyon opens up again just after we have some difficulty getting over some trail that seems in great need of work with a bunch of trees stretching across it. When I did this one cool morning, there was a stark difference in the temperature as the canyon widens. This afternoon, there is no distinct delineation. It is an odd sensation of a missing doorway or something for me. We can climb up it a little faster as the trail has room to find a high, level spot to travel here.

wider views
A much wider canyon leaves much wider views.

cut through brush
A thin trail through the brush making its way toward the mountains.

Passing the camp, the trail takes its time to start to feel unmaintained. This includes some particularly narrow sections through the tall brush and a little wandering right in the creek instead of beside it. This does get a little better look at the creek which has some curious bright orange seeps along the way. The canyon closes in again.

iron or moss
Bright colors can be directly from high concentrations of minerals or indirectly by the bright mosses supported by warm water or higher concentrations of minerals.

layers in the rocks
Lots of geology is apparent as the canyon closes in again. This is certainly not what usually supports a waterfall.

harder, narrower canyon
Getting narrower still.

One climb up from the creek marked by cairns drops us in the middle of a bit of trail again. We missed it somewhere behind. It makes the way easier until things narrow down again even more.

little waterfall
The rocks are changing and we have some little waterfalls.

navigation hazards demonstrated
The more elaborately shaped rocks present some navigation hazards in moving up the canyon.

With a little more clambering over the rocks, there it is. A waterfall of some 40 or 50 feet in height. The map shows more waterfalls on up various tributaries above here and does not show this one. There is probably some way past this to see what else is up here, but we certainly do not have the time in this quick afternoon jaunt.

swirling water
Water swirls in a pothole at the top of one small waterfall.

striped waterfall
Stripes broken by a missing shard makes a very pretty lille waterfall. Almost there.

taller waterfall
Behind the stripes, a taller waterfall stands with a pool between.

We take a little time with it, but we really are already at our turnaround time to get one of us back in time for plans.

upper waterfall
A little closer look at that upper, hiding waterfall.

surrounding details
And a wider look to take in a little more of the surroundings.

And so we head back.

short drop
Enjoying the little drops on the way.

water flowing
Following the water down until there is trail again.

Heading down, the extra bit of trail we missed before is quite nice. There is somehow no tight spot between the brush, either. Also quite nice. Then there is no set of tree trunks to jump over. There is, however, a lot more mud to avoid. At least the slopes on either side of the creek crossings are still frozen for a bit better grip.

Potrero John Camp
Potrero John Camp is nearly hidden by the willows as we pass on the trail on the other side of the creek.

more views
That bigger view in the direction of the rest of the Sespe Wilderness shortly before it is lost again to the narrowing canyon.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 2 January 2017

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