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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Two nights away from the FWC, Los Padres NF - "seemed a little primordial"

This trip was to be one night of camping in the FWC followed by two nights of sleeping in my hammock while backpacking the Cedar Creek-Fishbowls loop.
 After caching a water bottle at the Fishbowls trailhead I drove on to Thorn Meadows/Snedden Camp. It was late afternoon when I arrived. My plan was to relax here for the evening, sleep in the camper and hike up to Pine Mountain Lodge Camp the next morning. After spending the night at the lodge I would hike down to the Fishbowls for the second night's camp. On the third day hike out to the Fishbowls trailhead, ditch my pack, grab my cached water and walk the roads back to my truck.
It was early afternoon when I arrived at the camp and the temperature was still in the 90's. As I began to pop up the camper an idea began to take shape. Maybe it would be better to start the hike after the heat began to wane in the early evening and hike in the dark. While arranging my backpack for my  departure a black Jeep pulled into the camp. It was Scott from Oxnard and he was planning to hike to Thorn Point the next morning. I told him of my plan and he offered to shuttle me to Fishbowls trailhead and back, saving me a long walk in three days time. Thanks, Scott.
After about an hour of hiking the sun began to set over the mountains and the temperature started to fall.
 The lack of sunlight made this fern filled glen seem a little primordial.
 Cedar Creek Camp and I decided this would be the night's camp.
I started using a hammock about 15 years ago and it makes for a very comfortable nights sleep.
Dawn at Cedar Creek. It was a great night for sleeping until about an hour before sunrise when I heard something large passing close to the tree at my feet.  A large black bear was headed straight for my backpack. I yelled at Mr. Bear and he bolted away. Usually that would be the end of a bear in camp story but not that morning. This bruin only ran 40 feet before stopping. I yelled a second time and that only moved him another 40 feet to the side. When he turned the second time he began to huff. I understood that this was normal for a bear that has been scared but his ears were down. That seemed more like a bear that was irritated. This stand off went on for a while until I thought maybe he needed some space to retreat with dignity. Thirty feet behind me was a metal fire ring where I could keep a watch on my backpack. I could just barely see him through the brush but his ears were back up.
Banging on the fire ring did not make Mr. Bear move. Since he wasn't moving it seemed like a good time to take his photo.  Never had a black bear hang around this long and I was actually becoming a little concerned. Walking back toward my hammock I thought that if I still carried a sidearm, like when living in Wyoming, a single round in the air would have ended this standoff  right after it started. Seconds after that thought the bear began moving away up the hillside. He must have been reading my mind and saw the phrase, ".357 Magnum."
 After eating some oatmeal it seemed that a nap was in order. The view from my hammock.
 A butterfly landed first on me and then my backpack suggesting that I wasn't getting any closer to Piru Creek relaxing here at Cedar Camp. It was time to start hiking.
 An old burned snag, standing guard over switchbacks on the trail.
Maybe the track of my early morning bruin visitor.
 The hike to the top of the ridge was hot and dusty. It was less than two miles but it seemed like three.
 Fishbowls Camp seemed a more appealing destination than Pine Mountain Lodge.
 When hiking down off of the junction ridge I zoomed in on the Grade Valley Road far to the east.
 Another hot dusty hike down the ridge brought me to Piru Creek and Fishbowls Camp. The first thing I did was to soak my hot feet in the cool waters of the creek. After hanging my hammock and eating lunch I relaxed swinging beneath the trees reading a book. A couple of hours later a noise down by the stream made me put my book down and investigate. Another bear. I yelled and this one ran straight up the hillside until out of sight. Well done, Mr. Bear.
A couple of hours before sunset Trent and two friends from Lake Balboa arrived at the camp. We sat around eating dinner and talking well into the evening. I took this photo of their tent just before leaving the next morning.
 Trying to beat the coming heat I left Fishbowls Camp before sunrise. About 45 minutes later the sun began to hit the trail.
 Shadow of a backpacker alongside Piru Creek.
 The wilderness boundary. Back in the 80's before the forest service placed a fence at Grade Valley Road a person could drive to this location. I did and the hike to the Fishbowls was two miles shorter.
 This balloon still contained a little helium. It must have been released in the last month. I wondered where it came from, but I know where it went, into my trash.
 Sun was getting higher and the trail hotter.
 I crested the last ridge and started looking for the truck. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an odd colored branch a few feet ahead of me. The branch was a large rattlesnake sunning itself across the trail. The rattler and I noticed each other at the same time but I did manage to take a photo before it disappeared into the brush. Eleven rattles on its tail.
My home away from home appeared between the trees. It was time to get out a camp chair, change into my sandals and open a cold beverage. A Four Wheel Camper, with a refrigerator, waiting at the end of a trail is a wonderful thing.


  1. It was such a pleasure meeting Bill at The Fishbowls camp! We had just seen a bear on the trail as we're were trying to locate the camp. I'll never forget when I finally found the fishbowls camp I was just looking around and I heard the loudest deepest voice say GO AWAY BEAR. I thought they were talking to me but as I came around a huge rock outcropping there was Mr. Johnson as he just finished scaring off a bear. That's how I met Bill. He was a great guy. He shared his prime campsite with us, let us fill our water containers with his filter, and gave us some great advice. I just think it was a little strange how he was eating his noodles with a spoon!

    1. Are we talking about the same Mr. Johnson, my Bill pokes fun at me for using a spoon to eat Cup of Noodles. - Mrs. Johnson

    2. It was a pleasure to meet you Trent. I was surprised the bear did not return to provide us with some nocturnal excitement. Hope you found the fishbowls. On my hike out I remembered where they were located. Hiking in from the other direction had the map in my brain turned around.

  2. Bill and his "big" spoon.....sounds like the title to a good book! I must say, the hammock perspective of the two trees is far and away my favorite photo. Becky will be jealous when I show her the pictures of the hammock,Bill. Heck, I am jealous. It seemed like the perfect place to "swing and read." Glad that Mr. Bear finally came to his senses and jetted off. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    1. A hammock on a backpacking trip makes for a very relaxing camp as long as one stays below the treeline. Jan knows I use a fork for noodles but only had a spoon in my pack. Will she ever let me forget Trent's post. Thanks for posting Cindy.