31 January 2018


After a while, a few sketches.

Badlands to the east viewed from the top of Fox Mountain.

Grassy fields to the west of Fox Mountain.

End of the trail on the edge of Lake Casitas.

Butterfly Peak and Rock Point

San Bernardino National Forest

Click for map.

The day starts early with the blue moon in total eclipse, which is pretty cool even if it is only an accident of the calendar.

setting blue moon
The blue moon, still partly in eclipse, setting as the sun rises.

Today, the plan is to join a scheduled Hundred Peaks Section hike and climb a couple peaks on their list. Everyone is welcome to come on a hike if they are capable of completing it, you just have to email the hike leader. The trail we are starting at seems to be a little more exclusive. I expect someone asked permission at some point and this group is a rather good guest, not known for carving on or cutting fences and more likely to pick up trash than to drop it. They gather and we all sign the standard waiver and then we are off.

trailhead at a road junction
The trail start is marked at the start of a track between fence and road.

The trail follows paved road for a short way, then turns away from the Pathfinder Ranch entrance and onto a dirt road behind a locked Forest Service gate. The road is lined by fences until it starts to climb up into the hills. It is rocky and in poor repair as we go, but the passing walkers have kicked out a smooth trail among the rocks. A puddle along the otherwise dry expanse shows where a spring seeps. It is nice to see the water. This winter has just been so very dry. Things smooth out as they flatten out except for occasional deep ravines cut into one side of the road to make it impassible by a vehicle. Other roads wander off to the sides, but we keep ignoring them.

hikers on a disused and decaying road
The group hikes on along the disused and decaying road.

mining history sign
A sign explains some of the area mining history at the bottom of Gold Hill.

30 January 2018

Lookout and Table Mountains strolling the PCT

San Bernardino National Forest

30th of January, 2018

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I headed for Riverside with a list of plans, stopping by the Trabuco Ranger Station for a map and a couple backpacking permits to help pull them off, then off to the junction of SR-74 and the Pacific Crest Trail in time for the nice afternoon hike which was number one on my list. Just south of here is a peak identified as "Lookout Mountain #1" on the Hundred Peaks Section list and a few miles south of that is a bump just slightly off the PCT marked as "Table Mountain high point" on peakbagger, which are my excuse to hike a few miles along the PCT. Parking is well signed and north of the highway. I have a track in the GPS to show a couple routes to the top of Lookout but cannot seem to find them once it loads up. (This is due to it coming up as a route instead of a track and that both saved routes and tracks only show up when the device is told to navigate along them.) I will just have to make it on my own. It did not look so hard. Just go up high and look for a bit of trail. I cross the highway, pop through the gate, and start up the edges of the mountain.

gate and sign for PCT
Heading south on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Past the first bush are milk jugs strung out on a rope that appear to be full of fresh water. Someone is maintaining a water cache a bit early in the season. Then again, it might be a really good time to section hike this area as the desert will be much more comfortable and the high mountains have very little snow. The trail climbs at a very easy slope. This was certainly graded for stock. It is quite short until there is new view at the top of the saddle.

Thomas Mountain and more
The old view is of Thomas Mountain (on the left) and some others across the highway and wide valley.

valley and long mesas
The other side shows long Table Mountain and increasing views down into Anza Valley.

28 January 2018

Old Baldwin and Riverview

Ventura River Preserve

28th of January, 2018

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For afternoon, I headed off to the Ventura River Preserve to walk to the burn. Most of the preserve burned in the fire or was back burned in the fight. I started at the Old Baldwin Trailhead (the south route) simply because it is quick to get to from the highway. I recall something about the gate on the road in closing at a certain time, but cannot find anything about it on the trailhead signage. A sign glanced at while zooming past the gate might indicate 4:30 PM. I take off along the side of the ACA compliant trail past trees and shrubs untouched by recent fire.

still green live oaks beside the path
Follow the path past the green and bright live oaks.

dirt path winding past the grasses
The ACA compliant trail ends quickly, then it is just rough dirt.

The trail forks and I follow to the left. This trail takes me to a couple lookout points to view the Ventura River. It is running now, and even rather clean while it does so. I am surprised by the clarity considering the state of the watershed it comes down from. I remember plunging blindly into one creek coming down off the Station Fire scar. The difficulty was due to all the silt still coming down. Today, the river sparkles delightfully.

Ventura river running a few inches deep, quite wide, and clean
Looking out over the wide Ventura River flow.

Lake Shore Trail - Wedleigh Arm

Lake Casitas Recreation Area

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There are a number of trails close around Lake Casitas and I decided to poke along one before a nearby event in the middle of the day. Entry to the recreation area costs $10 per car in the off season, but you can walk or bike in through the main entrance for free. Follow the roads around to parking at the trailhead. The trail continues from the end and out around the lake. It is a rather wide and smooth dirt, apparently even suitable to hoverboards as a couple pass me on a pair that somehow look more like small Segways than a floating skateboard. They quickly turn down a smaller trail heading for the distant lake shore. Then it is just me and a lot of footprints and bicycle lines on the dirt.

sign to start the trail
Commence walking.

looking down the lake arm
Across the lake arm to the little bit of lake left.

At first, the trail is just along the road as it starts around the edge of the Wedleigh Arm of Lake Casitas. It slips through a gate that could be rolled closed and locked at sunset, according to the sign. A post next to the gate marks mile 0 of the 2 mile route. It turns away from the road and crosses an earth dam between the low lake and a winery before becoming a wide dirt ribbon between water and chaparral.

dam and winery beyond
The low dam that keeps the lake from flooding the winery beyond, when it fills again. Sulphur Mountain beyond is turning grey with ash in the air from the Thomas Fire.

fishing on the shore
Seems if you want to go fishing from the shore, you can drive right down to it as you see fit.

13 January 2018

Fox Mountain

Los Padres National Forest

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After the ordeal finishing off Thursday, I tried to sleep in as long as I could and generally recover on Friday. I had a message the sawyer project would be postponed, so that plan was out. My secondary plan was to climb Fox Mountain, but I was not in the mood for a bushwhack, somehow. I lazed, I read, I checked out the soggy roads that were preventing us working. Finally, I decided to do the mountain after all and I packed up to walk into the campsite noted in the Fox Mountain Peak guide. It is just a half mile in, so I figured it did not matter much that I had my car camping gear, not backpacking. I would even go ahead and bring my day pack instead of making due with the bigger one. Then I got to lining up the peak guide with the map and noticed that the gate that might be closed was actually the edge of a marked inholding where there is a broken up cattle guard full of mud, remnants of fence, and no gate at all and the hike was 2.5 miles from the actual locked gate, noted as "pavement ends". I shrugged and walked in all 2.5 nearly flat miles instead and never quite got my brain to think about it as backpacking rather than car camping. Just far enough away I did not want to go back for a second trip to get all my gear to the site. The GPS clocked 2.57 miles from car to site, so the guide is very close. The trail up the ridge line next to it was easy to spot even in the dying light, so I was very sure I was in the right starting place.

line of dirt up a ridge line
There is one site at 2.5 miles from the gate and one ridge next to it with one line of dirt up the edge.

The track looks reasonably open. My already well bruised legs with a hundred yucca stabs and many long scrapes and even some rash developing between stomach and socks (seems I probably ignored some nude twigs of poison oak that did not ignore me) are quite thankful for that. I want today to be another rather lazy day. I want to go ahead and take basically all day for what really is just a half day hike. Late start, and slow on the way up. Maybe even 3 or 4 hours for the 2.5 mile climb. Yeah, take the whole time the guide suggests is required for this hike just on the uphill. Now that is a goal! But maybe not too late a start. Maybe more like 9 than 10. It might get warm, after all. But without looking at the time at any point in the morning, my start is when it is and that is a quarter to 10.

Santa Barbara Canyon
Leaving the canyon below where there is a little bit of water shining in the sunlight.

The trail is initially steep, but not so steep that it feels like the dirt will slide out under my feet. I am a little disconcerted that although heading northwest, my shadow is already pointing more northerly than my direction of travel. Still, the "occasionally obscure" trail seems quite clear enough, at least for going up. As I climb, there are a few places that are steep enough to worry about, but most of the ridge line is a gentle slope. The only protest from my legs come when a low, deep bruise gets two quick whacks with stubby scrub oak branches, not from the climb.

false peak on the way up the ridge line
Up ahead, a step along the way. The peak is behind this and will be unseen for a while.

The canyon in the downstream direction. This is what I walked yesterday evening.

11 January 2018

Peak Mountain and McPherson Peak

Los Padres National Forest

Click for map.

With the aim of doing some sawyer work in the north end of the county starting Friday and being able to get away for Thursday, I looked for something to hike in the area. The options do not seem to be plentiful. There are a couple of peaks on the Hundred Peaks Section list out there. One is practically a drive up and the other actually is a drive up the way they are usually done, but it turns out the drive up has not just one but two trails up it. A loop hike sounds great. I might even go after the near drive up, but it does add a little over 6 miles to the trip which might make things a little long for these short days. The plan is to hike from Aliso Park up the canyon and check out Hog Pen Spring on the way, then head over to a nearby benchmark called SIGN on the map. From there, I can trot over and go up Peak Mountain, or skip that and go directly up McPherson Peak before following the ridge route down. After the long drive, I get a 9 AM start, so a couple hours of light have already been lost.

canyon road
Aliso Park is a campground at the end of the pavement. A jeep road continues from the far side of the campground.

The road is rough as it crosses a creek, then smooths out. Another road splits to the right and curves back the way I came almost immediately. This is the bottom of the ridge route, which I was a little concerned would be hard to find. Although there is no sign, it is easy enough at the start. I am headed for the spring, so I ignore it and keep to the longer road. Travel is easy and when I notice myself relaxing a little too much into the walk, I push myself a tiny bit. If I keep up a reasonable pace, there should still be time to get that other peak.

generally smooth road
Easy road walk through the canyon.

01 January 2018

hikes of 2018

 Peak Mountain and McPherson Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 11

 Fox Mountain, Los Padres National Forest: Jan 13

 Lake Shore Trail - Wedleigh Arm, Lake Casitas Recreation Area: Jan 28

 Old Baldwin and Riverview, Ventura River Preserve: Jan 28

 Lookout Mountain and Table Mountain, San Bernardino National Forest: Jan 30

 Butterfly Peak and Rocky Point, San Bernardino National Forest: Jan 31

 Agua Tibia Wilderness, Cleveland National Forest: Feb 1-3

 San Mateo Peak, Cleveland National Forest: Feb 3

 San Mateo Canyon Wilderness, Cleveland National Forest: Feb 4-5

 Forbush Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 10-11

 Lower Sisquoc, Los Padres National Forest: Feb 16-19

 Bald Mountain and Hurricane Deck, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 6

 Goddard Campground, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 15

 The Playground, Los Padres National Forest: Mar 15

 Whitehorse Canyon and Conejo Ridge, Conejo Open Space: Mar 18

 Rocky Peak, Rocky Peak Open Space: Mar 19

 Grass Mountain, Angeles National Forest: Mar 27

 Vista Del Mar and Prickly Pear, Conejo Open Space: Apr 1

 Old Boney Trail, Point Mugu State Park: Apr 6

 San Rafael, Los Padres National Forest: Apr 15-19

 Western Plateau, Elliott Peak, and Hawk Canyon, Conejo Open Space: Apr 29

 Caliente Mountain, Carrizo Plain National Monument: May 2

 Big Four finish, Los Padres National Forest: May 15-18

 Woodridge and Rocky Incline, Conejo Open Space: May 27

 Matilija, Upper North Fork, Los Padres National Forest: Jun 2

 Ortega Hill and Ortega Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Jun 10

 Santa Cruz Station and Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Jun 16-18

 Monument Peak, Cleveland National Forest: Jul 18

 Garnet Mountain, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Jul 18

 Garnet Peak, Cleveland National Forest: Jul 19

 Upper Sisquoc, Los Padres National Forest: Jul 21

 Pine Mountain, Dawson Peak, Wright Mountain; Angeles National Forest: Aug 4

 Vincent's Cabin, Angeles National Forest: Aug 5

 Mount Lewis, Angeles National Forest: Aug 5

 Kratka Ridge, Angeles National Forest: Aug 5

 Winston Ridge and Peak, Angeles National Forest: Aug 5

 Woodpecker Trail, Coralville Lake: Aug 29

 Loveland Pass and its westerly peaks, Arapaho National Forest: Aug 30

 Trail Through Time, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area: Aug 31

 Montecito Peak, Los Padres National Forest: Sep 4

 Sisar Canyon and Horn Canyon, Los Padres National Forest: Sep 12

 San Pablo Ridge to Wildcat Peak, East Bay Regional Park District: Oct 9

 Round Top, East Bay Regional Park District: Oct 13

 Mount Tamalpais from King Mountain with Knob Hill, King Mountain Open Space: Oct 16

 Redwood Peak, East Bay Regional Park District: Oct 18

 Sobrante Ridge, East Bay Regional Park District: Oct 23

 Madrone Trail, Las Trampas Ridge, and Corduroy Hills; East Bay Regional Park District: Oct 24

 Mount Saint Helena, Robert Louis Stevenson State Park: Oct 29

 Mount Konocti - Wright Peak, Lake County Park: Oct 30

 Arcata Ridge quick look, Arcata Community Forest: Nov 13

 Clam Beach, Humboldt County Park: Nov 14

 Arcata Marsh: Nov 16

 beside Humboldt Bay: Nov 17

 Grasshopper Mountain and Johnson Camp Loop, Humboldt Redwoods State Park: Nov 20

 Beith Creek Loop, Arcata Community Forest: Nov 28

 Tunnel Flat, Six Rivers National Forest: Dec 6

 Hennessy Ridge and World's Largest Tan Oak, Six Rivers National Forest: Dec 6

 Hammond Coastal Trail and Mad River Bluffs, Humboldt County Park: Dec 17

 Rockefeller Loop, Humboldt Redwoods State Park: Dec 22

 Mill Creek to mortar stone, Sequoia National Forest: Dec 24

 Lake Ming, Kern County Park: Dec 25

 Remington Ridge to Lightner Peak, Sequoia National Forest: Dec 26

 Dunioth Mountain, Calico Mountains: Dec 29

 Hackberry Peak, Mojave National Preserve: Dec 31