28 January 2018

Old Baldwin and Riverview

Ventura River Preserve

28th of January, 2018



Click for map.

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.


The trails come together again. Worried about the time, I head back to go to a trailhead I know has no gates to get stuck behind. While this trail is right behind houses, it is a particularly pleasant walk under trees with evidence of the recent rain all around.

grass sprouting either side of a path lined with tall oaks
Returning in the new grass and among the oaks.

The lot is now full and there are still people arriving. If there is a time I must get out of here by, it is certainly not 4:30. I head out to the Riverview Trailhead anyway. It is also rather full, but there is still a spot for me. I head down into the flood plain and straight for the river, this time to cross it.

rocks and dirt rising behind the green
The golden hour light seems to really highlight the nudity of the hills.

crossing the river
Rocky riverbed.

I had taken a rather major looking trail to the river and found enough rocks to cross it on, but the trail seems much less reasonable on the far side. It is well marked at first, but finally climbs out of the river bed directly up a steep hill. It connects up quickly enough to the proper trails. Across the road, things become a lot less green and a lot more, well, black. Some of the black is already pealing off, but mostly it is grey and black.

blackened surroundings, but green is popping up here too
Hiking through the burn. Trees to the left are popping out from the stream bed.

I break off the main trail to take one up the hill. It continues over to a hitching post for horses, but then seems to sort of run out. At the top of the hill, another trail breaks off along the ridge line to a higher spot. I look around briefly in the gathering gloom, but it might already be too late for photographs.

one green bush in the middle of ash
The randomness of fire: leaving just one bit of green.

Topatopa Bluff over Ojai
Topatopa Bluff still stands out, even if it is also rather singed.

Wills Canyon with browned trees
Looking on up Wills Canyon where many of the trees are turning brown.

horse hitch by burned trees
This looks like it was once a pleasant spot to hitch a horse in the mid morning.

bevy of quail run off
One of the largest bevy of quail I have come across is poking around in the ashes. Some of the runners seem to turn into ghosts in the longer exposure near dark.

I head back down and then down by the creek. It is more dangerous here as the oaks were already weakened and falling before the fire came through. Now they have had further stress. There is really no telling what might happen down among them.

some of the trunks of a large circle of trees
These trees show some evidence that they might be regrowth from the roots of some older trees lost in a fire which themselves seem to be growing in a bit of a circle like they are coming up from the roots of an even older tree.

bottom of Wills Canyon is a bit on the muddy side
Wills Creek has become a bit of a muddy mess.

Following this trail, I find the more usual river crossing before winding my way this way and that back to the car. A motion by my feet makes it clear I had better watch my step or it might be very bad news for one of the many frogs out and about in the early evening.

rocky Ventura River
The Ventura River. Again, there are plenty of rocks to choose from for hopping across without wetting my feet.

little jumper
One of a couple frogs I encountered along the way.

Although there are still a few people, walking barefoot by moonlight and otherwise with their dogs, the lot is nearly empty by the time I finish and take off myself. The burn is a lot of what I expected, but it was nice to see a few spots that were not leveled. The north side of the hills had a few spots that looked like they might have come through it, and that was quite nice to see.




©2018 Valerie Norton
Posted 8 Feb 2018

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