Santa Barbara front country
Back to my home stomping grounds and between all the rain that has been falling down and the more cascade-like waterfalls I have been visiting, I want to see what some of the local creeks jumping over cliffs are doing. Also, I am a little suspicious we have gotten about all the water we are going to get, so now is the time to see the waterfalls. First up is San Ysidro. This waterfall never quite dried out although at some points you had to walk up and touch it to be sure. A thin film of water kept a vertical garden lush and green, but a cascade of green leaves is not what most people are looking for when heading to a waterfall. I get a late start in order to hit the waterfall around noon when the sun is most likely to be shining on it. It will likely be crowded with a lunch crowd then, but the light is all important. Parking is certainly getting hard to come by as I start.
|The Montecito Trails Foundation has a few extra signs to help direct travelers where there are no options. One a little further up and pointing left might be useful.|
The trail changes very little here. Up between a house and a nursery, then left at the private road above. Many walk the pavement, but they are not really supposed to. There are dirt trails beside it for hikers. The road turns to dirt utility access road and this shows some wear and tear from the recent storms. There are small land slides and thin cuts through it by water. It is rockier than usual. Down below, there is the roar of water. The crossing to McMenemy takes a little more skill now, although it does look like there are good hopping stones in place. Long dry tributaries are flowing again, but pose no difficulty in crossing either.
|Water, lovely water, coming down San Ysidro Creek.|
|People seemed to think this tributary was a trail when it was dry and would go exploring up it. The pounded down dirt to the left is part of that.|
As the trail splits off from the road, it also looks pretty good after the pounding it got. There are many spots to linger along this creek. The water has become largely clear and beautiful after the rush. The pools have cleaned up a bit from the rush and there is an interesting size sorting going on with the rocks in the bottom.
|A good, thundering rush into one pool along the way.|
|A little cascade coming into another pool.|
|Perhaps I should find a way to get a better look at this waterfall along the way hidden among the trees.|
As the trail gets into a rocky section with a small switchback for a little climb, there is some storm damage. A few big rocks have rolled out of the side of the trail above and come down. Higher up, there are boulders on the trail itself. These do not seem to have blocked the path completely, but it is a choke stone to the flow of travelers.
|Sweet peas are ready for spring.|
|A short waterfall at one turn is often the popular turn around in dry times. Personally, I always go on and feel this is a poor substitute.|
|The rocks on the trail. They are about knee high and trail wide.|
|Bright color shows where one tree at the confluence has been hit by rocks. Water on the left is from the waterfall and water on the right is the main creek. It looks good for the waterfall.|
Like the rest of the creek, the waterfall and area below it has been cleaned out a lot. In addition to the green stuff on the falls itself, brush near the bottom was starting to get difficult to wade through. The pool was completely filled in with rocks. Now the area is open and much of the waterfall has been scraped and there is even some depth to the pool. In spite of my expectations, the area is not full of people. There is a single pair eating who then take some photos and head off.
|A much more enthusiastic and clean San Ysidro Falls than has been seen in a few years.|
|A little of the flora remains on the waterfall, but most has been scraped clean or at least ripped leaving just roots.|
|There is new growth to the side of the falls. A very happy cactus and the frills of a Humboldt lily catch my eye on the hill above.|
I have not been up the rest of the trail in the daylight in a while, so I keep going up. Like the lower trail, most of it is free of storm damage. Early on, there is a muddy slide that took out the trail, but while the mud was drying people continued to use it and now there are dried mud platforms across the short distance. Past that, it is smooth hiking all the way up to the top, or at least as smooth as it has been.
|A few sage flowers are getting started for spring, too. There is also some black sage flowering.|
|One butterfly among the thin flowers.|
As the trail winds between the main canyon and the tributary with the waterfall, there are a lot of spots where I can hear water far below. The places I can see it are few and near the beginning of the climb. One noisy spot has me wondering what might be hidden far below through the thick chaparral. Today is an easy day, so that is not a project I will embark on.
|The slow reveal of Montecito below.|
|Not all that green above, but some of that is due to ceanothus flowering and some is simply that these are tough plants and grey-green is what they do for green.|
|Getting high enough to look to Santa Barbara over the saddle north of Montecito Peak. The memorial tree seems to be growing.|
|Higher still and the coastline stretches out from Carpinteria east.|
Once at the road, there is plenty to see of the backcountry on this mostly clear day.
|The local backcountry is all kinds of interesting, but I hear the trails have not fared well.|
I take some time to enjoy the view at the top before heading back down. It is a very pleasant day for that sort of thing.
|Looking out at the Channel Islands. First there was just a little bit of Anacapa and now there are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa.|
|East along the ridge line. The edge of Camino Cielo is clear, but not as clear as the large fire break cut while the Rey Fire burned.|
|The structure of rocks in San Ysidro Canyon are better on display now that they have been washed.|
|Bear sign on a tree. This is far down in the canyon where quite a few people seem to believe the bears do not go. Bears go everywhere.|
©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 5 March 2017