31 December 2019

Cozy Dell to Valley View Camp

Los Padres National Forest


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I've been thinking I should go back to Cozy Dell for years now, then Thomas came roaring through, but I still kept thinking it. Thomas is a fire, of course. It stayed California's biggest for 6 whole months. That was just over two years ago and the forest was open again before it was officially out. Bernard's somehow never been on this trail, so he wanted to come along. It's not that he's never noticed it when passing along on CA-33 to somewhere further by a little or a lot, just that he's never stopped to see where it goes. There's a bit of potential for exploration, but I only plan to take the official trails to check on Valley View Camp. If I lived in Ojai, I would know all the little tracks up here and have got myself to Nordhoff Peak by a half dozen different routes including some from here, I expect. I've done it by a quarter dozen others anyway.

sign along CA-33
The trail is well signed at the highway and there is a lot of parking on the far side of the highway. There is none on the same side. The trail starts beside the guardrail.

trail in a small canyon
Up a minor creek area.

Trail follows up a minor creek, but this is not yet the Cozy Dell. That's just over the hill, so the trail swings back upon itself and starts to climb. It's wide and rutted with water and well used. None of the bad is noticeable to fresh legs as we pay more attention to the orange tree groves. That's the real southern California. People would come here and plant their oranges and do better than those coming to dig out the orangey metal. I don't remember when this was all orange groves, but everywhere for a few hundred miles on down the coast and much of inland has a time when it was. We also ponder the trail up the far mountain. I think I remember it being there before, curiously well used then too, but then memory has a way of claiming what you want to hear.

Matilija cutting between two ranges
Getting a view into the valley around Matilija Creek with its oranges. The far eastern peak of the Santa Ynez Range there on the left has a distinct trail up it in addition to the unmaintained Camino Cielo section.

orange groves and city
Over the top and there are more orange groves in Ojai.

The trail dips and climbs on its way east above the Cozy Dell. There are houses down there somewhere, not that we really see them. Tracks break off to climb the hill. If they join up and follow the lines of the map labeled "Dozerline Trail", they make a fast way to the road at the top. Those are yet more routes to Nordhoff Peak. We're not going that far today. I still plan to see the camp and wander back, but there are two ways about it. We wander up and down with the official trail.

28 December 2019

Lizards Mouth Rock

Los Padres National Forest


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I popped around to Santa Barbara and visited Bernard, who was skipping the holidays for the Wednesday night hikes, but out for the very short Lizards Mouth hike for the weekend. We hiked a mile extra along Camino Cielo on the way in and got that shortened for the way out. That meant passing the Playground, which wasn't so busy, before getting to the rock, which was bustling and humming with all the folks out for the last weekend of the year.

murky eastern view
Clear, but that doesn't mean there's much to see of Carpinteria on down the coast.

snow at 5000 feet
The last couple storms through actually dropped some snow, at least on the stuff that's 5000 feet high. Some fell lower, but it's gone now.

rocks among brush, reservoir, lagoon, islands
Some rocks of the Playground below. Further is a reservoir, the lagoon at UCSB, and the Channel Islands. The separation between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa can just be seen from here.

I take the first trail into the exposed rocks around Lizards Mouth, which means a fair bit more traveling cross country and scrambling than is strictly required to get there. There are trails everywhere and often I seem to take the lesser ones. I pass three or four groups both wandering and settled among the lower rocks.

people on rocks against the sky
The mouth is up there with a group sitting on it and more below.

21 December 2019

Silver Peak

Johnson Valley area BLM

San Bernardino National Forest


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When I realized I'd have extra morning chores before the hike up Granite Peaks, I probably should have turned my attention to the shorter Silver Peak hike, but it does seem a little less romantic a thing. This is another Hundred Peaks Section listed peak and it seems more straightforward. There's a couple of ridges that present themselves as likely start points to connect to a road over the top. Yep, that's right, it can be done as a drive up. I ain't counting no drive ups. Most people have hiked up it from the south side when they engage a similar ethos. The road is open to there, but I'm here, so I'll try it from the east, give or take some degrees north. I did stop a bit short of my previous parking spot because I felt I was almost there anyway only to find I still had a mile to go. Whatever. It's a much shorter hike. I can do another mile on the road up.

Silver Peak under an overcast sky
Silver Peak and just this plain sort of mountain with a single peak in the middle of a general upward thrust.

I think I'll pop up Round Mountain on the way up, switching my original plan front to back. This will set me up to follow a short mine road up, then take the more obvious ridge the rest of the way. I can come down a slightly different ridge that looks like it might be easier. Round Mountain has some mines and a short road on it, too. That road starts beside a flattened parking area, but then moves on to cut into the sides of the mountain with no good launch points. I start up the hill cross country from the parking area. It's a quick hike over some odd rocks to the top.

broken up rocks to climb on an easy slope
Easy to walk up the side of Round Mountain. There are spots where the rocks seem broken up and then filled in with limestone to make a grey mosaic.

The top has a very simple station stuck in the end of a pipe and only imprinted with a triangle with a dot in the middle and a campsite. It is an excellent view of the mass of tailings around Terrace Springs. I guess it's a little bit better view of the rest of the valley, too. The overcast day is just subduing everything a bit.

one massive mine
That's a lot of tailings. Granite Peaks is on the left and the very eastern edge of Silver Peak is on the right.

There is also a road down the south side which drops down to where the road up to the mines on Silver Peak start. That's my route down and my route up the other side. I follow it all the way to a bright red scar in the mountain side just past where small signs mark the edge of the national forest.

one side of Silver Peak with mines
Looking across to Silver Peak. The road goes to a mine that is the red spot to the left. I'll come down the ridge on the right. Most of the peak is hidden from this view point.

19 December 2019

Granite Peaks West

Johnson Valley area BLM

San Bernardino National Forest


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I managed to drive up with less beating on my car than the day before when I was only seeing if I could. The road has plenty of wide spots and I took one just before an intersection. I'm going down the road at the intersection and expect it to be worse. With a higher car, I could probably get a mile closer. With 4WD, I could get two miles closer. To further slow down my start, I had to make some pancake mix before I could turn it into breakfast. It's no use fretting about such things. I get moving along. The side road is narrower, but generally not so rough except for a couple nasty dips.

Round Mountain and lots of mines
The road is not so bad here and has plenty of parking on the weed covered side. Round Mountain on the right has a few little mines that weren't noticeable in comparison to the huge mass of tailings on the left.

low ridges to the northeast
Somewhere out there is another road that I also considered for my approach, but could not determine if it really still exists while this one looked like I might be able to drive it.

There is a camp site where another road heads off through a gate in the cattle range fence. It is just before the road turns and drops to Arrastre Creek and gets particularly rough. I picked a gully just past the end of the road to start climbing, so keep on going past some more mines to that end.

wide canyon with a flat bottom
Arrastre Creek flows through here when it flows. It looks like sometimes it really flows.

gully in the side contains a lot more trees
Just a little bit of north slope makes for much different vegetation. There could be more water, too, as the area with all the tailings above is labeled Terrace Springs.

18 December 2019

Old Woman Benchmark

Johnson Valley area BLM


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I came up the road first to see how far I can get on it and second to grab the benchmark on the hill. I decided that if I'm going to beat up the car, I should only do it once and turned back. This is just a little hill, but the contours look very tight on the map indicating a very steep terrain. To the point I stopped for the hill, the road is fine even for little cars although there are some deteriorating parts. After this, it hits a wash and becomes full of medium rocks. I seem to have stopped in front of a couple prospects. They're a smaller version of the larger mine workings around the place. Those larger ones have foundations and a few other artifacts surrounded by audits and holes. These are just little holes with some tailings. Meanwhile, the hill looks very doable. At second glance, those contours are actually 20 foot contours instead of the usual 40 foot. Not so much up between each, so not so difficult.

little hill with a smaller hill beside it
The Old Woman benchmark is up at the top of that little hill. I'm planning on going up the seam between the two, then take the ridge.

extensive tailings
The bigger mines between here and San Bernardino National Forest have nothing on that mass of tailings just inside the forest boundary. The lighter color is all from a huge mine.

more volcanic bits
Out north, there are more little and medium hills to conquer. There's a few marked on Peakbagger out there.

The cactus aren't bad here, but I've already managed to kick one pencil cholla and embed a thorn in the knuckle of a toe while poking around mine workings. Had to take my shoe and sock off and then the thing wouldn't even budge until I got the toe bent just right. Those things are sneaky. Many of them are tiny and easy to miss. Well, with my eyes. Less so with my foot. So I watch carefully as I go up the increasingly steep slope.

across the desert to a few more bumps
To the east, more hills coming off the higher mountains to the south. I'm trying to locate a small pass where a road goes over there, but I'm not sure enough about the area for that.

More care is needed in finding solid foot placement on the hill than in avoiding cactus. It's not too bad. There even seems to be a trail forming along the route.

15 December 2019

Sheephole Mountains high point

Twenty-nine Palms area BLM


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A week has already passed and there's a hike with some Hundred Peaks Section folks, but they're actually doing a couple things off the Desert Peaks Section list. The one on Saturday made me pause. I think I could do it on my own, but with a group I'd be slowing the rest down. The Sunday hike looks much easier, although the stats are a little worrisome. Only 4.5 miles and 2100 feet gain, but it'll take "5-7 hours, possibly longer." (I can find this out because the DPS peak guides are now available to all online, not just members. I don't even have enough DPS peaks to become a member yet.) Yikes! But it is nearly 1000 feet a mile with class 2 climbing and no trail. Well, there could be the tiniest bit of old prospector trail at the start, but then nothing. With a 7AM start, we have plenty of time to get up and back in the day. Unfortunately, after an in car navigational problem, we're actually starting at 8AM. Still more than enough hours in the day and the delay lets me go find the Pass benchmark before going down near the azimuth to park.

rocky, pointy conglomeration
And so it begins. It's cold enough that it's nice to be starting in a little sun.

early class 2
Getting in a little bouldering, that is class 2 climbing, nice and early. We meant to be in the ravine to the left.

It is nice and easy at first traveling along a wash bottom. Oh, yeah, with the occasional mild waterfall (dry) to navigate around. We're following a standard DPS route and I'm surprised by how well established it is. Not that it is anything like a trail yet, DPS routes don't get nearly as much foot traffic as HPS routes.

in the wash
Easy hiking up the wash but out of the sun again.

antennas through a window in the rock
Up above the pass. The Pass benchmark is south of the antennas.

13 December 2019

Copper Mountain

Joshua Tree area BLM


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Copper Mountain is north of the college named for it and its peaks wrap around the east side of Coyote Lake or Sunfair Lake depending on what map one is looking at. This generally dry lake bed is a better known spot to get some free dispersed BLM camping while visiting Joshua Tree National Park. It and Copper Mountain are also quite popular with the off roading crowd, so I expect this hike won't be quite as nice as the last one. The climbing might be easier. I've spotted a rough road up this side of the high point to aim at. It is a little hard to see when looking directly into the sun in the morning, but I'm sure it's still there.

Copper Mountain across the lake bed
The high point of Copper Mountain with a radio antenna and a few other bits and bobs is at the south end of the chain that make up this mountain.

long stretch of peak
A long, narrow bulk is at the north and some smaller bumps pop up in between.

Setting off across the flats, there are distinct vegetative zones. I expect I am walking around the edge of what can be lake, or at least muddy. To my left is a very thick and tall growth of things like grasses while the right has a scattering of bushes with shorter things that actually are grasses. It's not muddy now in spite of recent rain. Perhaps I need a different hypothesis for the growth patterns. I cross a neck illustrated as lake, something which does not exactly follow the depressed contours, and the mountain stands before me.

Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain looks easy enough from any angle. The left side ridge is tempting but the right side one is the one I'm aiming at.

I start up an edge with very little of a road. It turns out that comes up from the valley to the left. It is rough and rocky and probably made by people believing that being allowed to take their OHV there means being able to take their OHV off road there. It is a common erroneous belief. I haven't checked which way BLM falls on this particular bit of land. Believing the local lore is a good way to get in trouble when they decide to crack down. The only prints on it appear to be mine coming down, but I'm sure I wasn't here already. They're actually a little bigger than mine.

Mount San Gorgonio
Mount San Gorgonio in the distance will not be giving up its snow any time soon. Bartlett Mountains are off to the right of it in the near distance. The different vegetation shows up as different dried colors in the lake.

11 December 2019

Playing Where's Waldo in the Bartlett Mountains

Joshua Tree area BLM


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There's quite a lot of BLM land around that which was designated at a monument and then a park. I had spotted that one bit was topped with a benchmark called "Waldo 2" and decided I'd go play Where's Waldo. It shouldn't be too hard with him being marked on the map in the Bartlett Mountains. Then I can swing over to the high point and wander the south part of the mountains gathering geocaches until the day is done. I was aiming at a road up to a water tank to start, but didn't end up taking that turn. Instead I'm on a road that climbs over the mountains at a short pass that splits the north, where there are higher peaks, from the south, where there are a few roads to roam. There's a great big turnout where it stops being a good road for my little car, making parking easy. The change in parking has changed my plans from an eastern approach to a western approach. First, I'm starting down the road which quickly deteriorates to something with tough spots for a lesser 4WD.

Bartlett Mountains
The peaks of the Bartlett Mountains are up past those steep, rocky slopes. This is actually a driveway although nothing appears to be at the end of it.

wash area
I'm aiming at that wash area that comes down not so steeply from the upper peaks to the saddle.

rugged land wiht a slot to see the flats
Looking back down to the flat desert between the mountains.

There's not too much view at the top and the road actually climbs a little past there. There will be more to see from higher up. I turn to a ridge line along the west side of the gully before getting into the gully itself. Some of it comes from the north and some from the east and the break comes up surprisingly quickly. I want that east side, so can't stick to the ridge. This particular gully makes an easy route upward into the heights of these mountains.

south peaks of Bartlett Mounatains are much smaller
Climbing the gully and taking a look southerly over the smaller peaks of the Bartlett Mountains and Joshua Tree National Park.

08 December 2019

Fortynine Palms Oasis

Joshua Tree National Park


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I wanted to be sure I stopped by an oasis while around Joshua Tree, so made my way to Fortynine Palms. The trail outside of Twentynine Palms starts just inside Joshua Tree National Park, but does not have an entrance fee. Again, there is a sign detailing the statistics of the hike and stressing that it might be too strenuous for you. Here it gets particularly worried about the passers by because part of the trail on the way out is uphill. Mounted on the side is a huge thermometer so people can know exactly how hot it is out. Today, that isn't even all the way up to 60°F.

trail with signs
Signs at the start of the trail.

The first bit of the trail is climbing. It doesn't actually start in the canyon with the oasis, so has to climb up and over to the correct canyon. Twentynine Palms comes into view below, stretching far and somewhat obscured by fog.

upturned rock layers, or so they look
The desert terrain to hike through.

large rocks, small rocks, foggy city, and mountains
The rocks take on odd shapes. This looks over the foggy city to the mountains beyond.

bunch of people and cars
There's quite a few people on this weekend day with the lot more than half full.

Someone behind me spots a tarantula. The big hairy spider causes a bit of a stir. One of the pair behind me says she's glad she passed before it was noticed, but eventually goes back to see it. I try to look for another as I go, but it seems I should have gone back too. There aren't any more being suitably obvious.

07 December 2019

Ryan Mountain

Joshua Tree National Park


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The second hike I signed up for was originally going to be Mineral and Tip Top, two on the far northeast side of San Bernardino National Forest, but there was a report that the road was more impassible than usual after the recent rain. Instead the group decided to do a loop over Ryan Mountain and Lost Horse Mountain as a shuttle. I'd been trying to get some interest in doing this as a loop on Sunday, so that worked out for me. Well, discounting that I'd have liked to do both. Again, the $30 entrance fee is taken care of by flashing a senior pass belonging to someone else in the car. Then we're off to the Ryan Mountain Trailhead and setting up the shuttle. Then we're off! Almost. We have to jog over from the "Indian Cave" trail we actually end up starting down. We're a little eager.

Indian Cave trail
The trail to the "Indian Cave", which seems to be the rocks resting with a space between up ahead and not a cave.

There's a more elaborate sign at the start of Ryan Mountain Trail to say that it is quite strenuous hiking at 1.5 miles each way and over 1000 feet climb. The climb is immediate once we're on the right trail. It quickly grants us views of the surrounding rocks as reward for the work.

a few rocks from the rocks
Just a few rocks at first and those from among other rocks.

steps on the trail
The trail is serious about climbing and includes steps.

rocks and mountains
Not just rocks out there, but other mountains.

We pass through a small inner valley before gaining the ridge with its own rewards of the new view including Queen Mountain. Well, Queen is to the north, so it was a little bit there before too. The stuff out to the east has a little different character than the western stuff we have been mostly looking at.

Ecological Staircase to the Pygmy Forest

Jug Handle State Natural Preserve Click for map. I noticed an Earthcache that looked interesting as it asks for study of an area wi...