Los Padres National Forest
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As it turned out, quite a few others were also wanting to do San Guillermo Mountain after Lockwood Peak. There was supposed to be a vote on if we would, but we seem to have missed that step and just proceeded to Pine Springs Campground. The thermometer in the car says it is 89&def;F out there. I find that hard to believe. I could take that kind of heat when I lived in Pasadena, but I have gotten soft again with the luxury of a marine layer to keep things mild. A few take a moment to partake in the facilities only to find that they have been nailed shut with added "Keep Out" signs. I wonder what the excuse for that is since they did not seem unsafe last year.
We step over the wire fencing meant to dissuade any wheeled vehicles from entering the Sespe Wilderness that surrounds the area and wander our way past bushes filling up with toilet paper. Really, there better be a good excuse for nailing the pits shut. Also, how much toilet paper visible does it take for people to realize that stuff is not going anywhere and needs to be packed out? It seems even the legged travel is not typically very far from the campground and the bushes clear up quickly. We drop into a rocky creek bed, where we lose the trail, and eventually climb back out to find it again. After that brief bit of down, we get to climbing.
The view opens up quickly and is, to my mind, better than the one from Lockwood Peak already. My hand swings through empty space as I set up to take a photo of the long lump that is Lockwood Peak, the further slightly more rugged side being the high point. Thus is the discovery that I left my camera in the car. It seems I cannot notice the absence of two pounds of camera hanging around my neck unless I am thinking about it. A brief thought of going back for it flutters through my mind. We are not that far up yet, but I am with a group. That would be rather rude. I turn to climb some more.
The realization that it really is hot seems to be coming to most of the group as we get high enough for nature to provide us with a wonderful cooling wind from the west. There are multiple noises of welcome directed toward and about that breeze as we climb the last bit before turning north along the ridge. The ridge comes with a second luxury: a shade tree. Someone has even cut away the lower branches so that more can comfortably partake. Below us, the badlands west of the mountain are revealed.
We give the last folks up a minute or two to have some shade too, then make that turn to the north. This requires losing a little elevation. The north slope is occupied by the cheery purple flowers of the dreaded poodledog bush. This fire follower has not quite vanished again to wait for the next burn. There is enough room between them to pass without touching and risking the itch worse than poison oak.
One last climb puts us on the top and experiencing a little better view. This is the better peak. If I had to forget my camera on one of these, it would have been better to do so on the other. It is still quite smoky. There is a spot in the far west where the grey seems to not just hide the landscape, but to replace it. The shapes of things look right to call this area Cachuma Lake. It even has a tooth shaped mountain just north, but the one I generally see near there should be well hidden by a taller mountain that is itself hidden by a taller mountain from this vantage point.
We take a little time to try to take it in and then there is another call for a group photo even though it is the exact same group on the same day. It is not the same mountain! There is also a call for a couple packs to help stabilize the hiking stick monopod contraption as that wonderful breeze is still blowing. I kneeled in the front for both photos, but the sand is uncomfortably hot through my trousers only for this one.
We head down again and back up carefully avoiding that poodledog, then take another stop under the shade tree for a while. Heading down finally, there is a brief movement toward the wrong ridge, which would probably just result in a wider circle to the campground, before the head of the line gets suspicious and we all move back to our original line for climbing. Now it feels too hot. That is probably the first time that climbing felt nice enough to the downhill feels like too much exertion will bring on heat stroke. Happily, it really is not that far.
We try a slightly different route as we get down toward the rocky, dry creek bed. It does not end up saving us any movement over the rocks in the bottom, though. We climb up out on another trail that hops over a different section of cable near the cars and finish the hike. All seem to have weathered the heat well enough as we do. The car thermometer is reading 105°F as we leave and holds steadfast at that the whole way back to the main road.
©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 15 July 2017