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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Los Padres NF with the Big Blue Chevy Van

 We met near Interstate 5 and headed toward Reyes Peak Campground on top of Pine Mountain.
 After driving for two hours we are greeted by these signs.
 FWC the next morning at our alternate camp.
The Big Blue Chevy Van, an impressive looking rig.
 After a leisurely breakfast we head over to Lockwood Valley and make the turn for Grade Valley.
 Nearing Grade Valley
 Big Blue Van driving the road described by the sign above.
 Grade Valley
 We stopped for lunch at the Fish Bowls trail head.
 A ribcage was discovered in the stream bed.
 Sarah was here.
 The Big Blue Van and camper head for home.
 I wonder if there is enough daylight to reach the fish bowls before sunset.
 Only 5.6 miles. Two hours and a bit if I can hike fast enough.
 About one mile from the trail head.
 Parts of Piru Creek were iced up.
Fall colors in a meadow along Piru Creek.
 In about an hour I reach the wilderness boundary, 2.6 miles in. After another 1/3 mile I decide to turn around because it will night by the time I get to the bowls.
Found this old Goodyear Super Cushion west of the wilderness boundary. Whenever I encounter an old piece of equipment it makes me wonder how it came to be there.
 This cable was rigged decades ago to prevent motorized access. Seems redundant because the USFS closed the Piru Creek JEEP road back at the Mutau Road.
I hiked back to my truck and drove three miles further south to Halfmoon Campground. Darkness had fallen when I arrived.
 Dawn at Halfmoon Campground. My first time camping here was in 1982 when I rode my Kawasaki LTD in when exploring the Los Padres. Over the years that big old street bike and later a Honda Magna traveled many miles, in many states, on dirt roads. Back in 82' a friend arrived near sunset at Halfmoon with his family, dogs and a pickup loaded with dirt bikes towing a camper. Both of us were surprised to bump into the other so far from home.
 This photo illustrates two points: 1 - I didn't completely close the spigot. 2 - The temperature dropped below freezing over night.
 Eight bags of trash gathered at two campsites.  Why can't they just take it home?
 Leaving Halfmoon Campground. I had the entire campground to myself.
 Thorn Point in the distance. I hiked to the lookout on its summit in 2002.
 Click photo for a closer look at the lookout.
Would like to see Piru Creek when it is flowing enough to float this debris.
 Went for a little walk and found this mighty waterfall.
The Mutau Road water crossing. It looked much more sinister when crossing it in the dark the night before.

 Crossing Piru Creek.
 Nearing the Grade Valley Road switchbacks.
 What switchbacks look like on the navigation system.
 The route home. Frazier Mountain behind the sign.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Caliente Mountain Camp/Bike/HIke - "road deteriorates past the old gate "

After leaving Jalama Beach we drove north to CA 166 and then east to the Cuyama Valley.

Entering the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
The start the Caliente Ridge Road.  I have driven this road four times and what the sign doesn't tell the driver is that the road is narrow with few turnouts and not a place you want to be when it rains.
Dawn on Caliente Ridge. It was windy but not very cold (40ยบ) during the night. This is where I began my bike and hike to Caliente Mountain.
My shadow accompanies me as I ride the old dirt road.
 The radio tower is the first way-point on the trail.
This picnic table is the second way-point on the trail.
The road deteriorates past this old gate but is still an easy ride.
 I parked my bike near this guzzler, third way-point, and began to hike.
 A view of Caliente Mountain from the last of several false summits.
Fog covers the lowlands to the southeast.
 A raptor searching for lunch.
 Rock formation near the summit.
 I reach the summit of Caliente Mountain, after 8 miles of biking and hiking up and down the ridge-line. (Did I mention up and down the ridge-line?) The WWII observation cabin has now collapsed. Photo from 1989.
 Found this entry in the summit register concerning lost pilot Christopher Kidd.
To the southwest the Sierra Madre rise above of the fog.
 After leaving the summit I hike back to my bike. Camp is three miles beyond the high ridge in the distance. I am looking forward to making it to the tower on that ridge because from there it is 80% down hill.
While back at camp changing my shoes two riders came by and asked if we could provide some water for their dog. After "Fido" hydrated they headed back to Selby Camp.
Exiting the Caliente Ridge Road.
Looking back.