Posted by: James Wapotich | November 19, 2018

Trail Quest: Del Norte Camp, Santa Cruz Island

Eastern Santa Cruz Island Red Mountain Diablo Peak hiking backpacking Channel Islands national park

Looking west, Red Mountain and Diablo Peak are seen in the distance from the trail

Currently working on a series of articles on the Channel Islands. During the last ice age, roughly 20,000 years ago, the sea level was 300-400 feet lower, and the four islands off our coast – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel – were part of one larger, single island called Santarosae. Between 11,000 and 9,000 years ago, Santarosae was gradually broken into the four smaller islands we know today. The series will trace an imagined traverse across Santarosae east to west.

This week’s article is the second of three covering Santa Cruz Island and describes backpacking from Scorpion Anchorage over to Prisoner’s Harbor. The next article in the series will cover the hike out to Pelican Bay.

Article appears in section A of today’s edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

Posted by: James Wapotich | November 5, 2018

Trail Quest: Montañon Peak, Santa Cruz Island

Montañon Ridge Peak hike eastern Santa Cruz Island trail Channel Islands National Park

Montañon Ridge is seen from the trail

Currently working on a series of articles on the Channel Islands. During the last ice age, roughly 20,000 years ago, the sea level was 300-400 feet lower, and the four islands off our coast – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel – were part of one larger, single island called Santarosae. Between 11,000 and 9,000 years ago, Santarosae was gradually broken into the four smaller islands we know today. The series will trace an imagined traverse across Santarosae east to west.

This week’s article is the first of three covering Santa Cruz Island and describes the hike to the top of Montañon Peak, which overlooks the eastern end of the island. The next article in the series will describe backpacking from Scorpion Anchorage over to Prisoner’s Harbor.

Article appears in section A of today’s edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

This article also represents the 300th Trail Quest article, since I first started writing the column, eight years ago. If you’d like to see that very first article, go to Trail Quest: Aliso Canyon.

Posted by: James Wapotich | October 31, 2018

Trail Quest: Anacapa Island

Anacapa Island Santarosae ice age Channel Island National Park

The eastern end of Anacapa Island is seen from offshore

Starting a new series of articles on the Channel Islands. During the last ice age, when the sea level was 300-400 feet lower, the four islands off our coast – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel – were part of one larger, single island called Santarosae. The series will trace an imagined traverse across Santarosae starting with what is now Anacapa.

The first article appears in section A of the October 22nd, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

Posted by: James Wapotich | October 31, 2018

Trail Quest: Lizard’s Mouth and the Goddard sites

Lizard's Mouth hike climb trail West Camino Cielo Los Padres National Forest

Lizard’s Mouth

Recently visited Lizard’s Mouth and checked out the Goddard sites along West Camino Cielo.

Dwight Goddard was the author of The Buddhist Bible, and helped to bring Buddhism into mainstream Western culture. Published in 1932, Goddard’s book would later go on to inspire Jack Kerouac 21 years later and his book The Dharma Bums, which helped introduce Buddhism to the Beat Generation. In 1934, Goddard had hoped to start a Buddhist-style monastery on his property along West Camino Cielo, but the venture was short-lived due to lack of participants. Goddard later donated the land to the forest service to be used as a picnic area.

The picnic area on the south side of the road was removed during the 1970s, but remnants from the Goddard residence on the north side of the road can still be found.

Article appears in section A of the October 1st, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

Cedar growing at the old Goddard site

Posted by: James Wapotich | September 28, 2018

Navigating Wilderness

Navigating Wilderness skills class map reading route finding edible and medicinal plants tracks tracking hiking backpacking Mike Kresky Lanny Kaufer

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Navigating Wilderness skills class map reading route finding edible and medicinal plants tracks tracking hiking backpacking Mike Kresky Lanny Kaufer

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Navigating Wilderness
Saturdays, Oct. 27-Nov. 17

Learn from local experts how to read the landscape and trails, and become more familiar with the native plants and animals of our area through this immersive class.

The Santa Barbara and Ojai backcountry offers more than 500,000 acres of designated wilderness and hundreds of miles of trails to explore, and yet often the biggest obstacle to venturing out on the land or going deeper into nature is simply having the skills and confidence to get started.

Through this immersive four Saturday workshop, you will learn how to read the landscape and trails; become more familiar with the edible and medical plants of our region; learn about the animals of our area and how to recognize their tracks; and build skills and awareness that allow you to feel more at home in the woods.

Each class takes place outside, on one of our local trails, and provides a mix of hands on instruction, immersive exercises, and council sharing circles that allows for learning on many levels.

Reading the Landscape
October 27th, 9AM-2PM

Learn how to orient yourself to the local landscape, read the topography, and create your own mental maps. Discover how to navigate the backcountry without the use of a compass or GPS; and learn to remove the word lost from your vocabulary.

Edible and Medicinal Plants
November 3rd, 9AM-2PM

Venturing out onto the land is even more rewarding when we take time to develop a meaningful connection with nature.

Join local plant expert Lanny Kaufer as we learn about the edible and medicinal plants in our area. Many of these plants were first used by the Chumash and have a rich ethnobotanical history.

Plants are great teachers of how to adapt to a particular place and move with the seasons. Learn how to recognize a number of our native plants; where to find them; and their different uses.

Animal Tracks and Tracking
November 10th, 9AM-2PM

Our backcountry is home to a rich variety of animals that often goes unseen by us. Join local tracker and naturalist Mike Kresky as we learn about these animals and their relationship to the land. Learn how to recognize some of the common tracks of our local mammals, birds, and even reptiles.

Tuning into the wildlife around us can deepen our awareness of place and through our senses connect us to the aliveness of the natural world.

Routefinding
November 17th, 9AM-2PM

Many of our local trails are overgrown, particularly those off the beaten path.

Learn how to read the trails, practice route-finding, and develop your own sense of “body radar” to help you navigate in the wilderness. We will work with how to create a trail narrative and interpret the landscape, and begin to see nature as an ally and how to hone and trust your senses.

Guides:

James Wapotich is a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger with the Forest Service and the author of the Santa Barbara News-Press hiking column, Trail Quest. He leads guided hikes and has hiked many of the trails in our local backcountry.

Lanny Kaufer regularly leads Herb Walks and Nature Hikes in Ojai and Santa Barbara and recently celebrated his 40th year of teaching people about edible and medicinal plants. He has studied with William LeSassier and has led herb walks with the late Chumash plant expert Juanita Centeno and Dr. Jim Adams of the USC School of Pharmacy. www.herbwalks.com

Mike Kresky is an accomplished naturalist and wildlife tracker. He co-authored the field guide Animal Tracks and Scat of California and has completed the intensive Kamana Naturalist Training Program. He leads workshops on tracking and has explored much of the local backcountry.

All four Saturday classes take place on our local trails.

To sign up or for more information, please contact:
James (805) 729-4250 jwapotich@yahoo.com

Workshop is $175 per person, or bring a friend and both $150 each.
Must be able to comfortably hike 2-3 miles

Posted by: James Wapotich | September 26, 2018

Historic Mines & Trails of the Santa Barbara Backcountry

Historic Mines and trails of the Santa Barbara backcountry quicksilver sunbird chromite white rock barite white elephant mine moraga limestone lithographic los padres national forest

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Historic Mines & Trails of the Santa Barbara Backcountry

Free Slideshow Presentation with Q&A

Thursday, October 18th, 6:30PM
Faulkner Gallery – Santa Barbara Public Library
40 East Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA

While not necessarily rich in gold and silver, our local mountains have other minerals and resources that were valuable enough for prospectors to search for them and miners to build trails to access them in the remote wilderness behind Santa Barbara.

This talk will highlight a half-dozen historic mines and trails, ranging from Quicksilver Mines along the Santa Ynez River, to Chromite, Barite, and Lithographic Limestone mines in the San Rafael Mountains. Places that can still be visited today as part of a day hike or backpacking trip.

Join local author James Wapotich as he shares images and stories from his hikes along these historic routes. James has hiked many of the trails in our local backcountry. He is a Volunteer Wilderness Ranger with the Forest Service, and is the author of the Santa Barbara News-Press hiking column, Trail Quest.

For more information call (805) 729-4250 or email jwapotich@yahoo.com

This talk is part of the ongoing Wilderness Hiking Speaker Series hosted by the Santa Barbara Public Library. The talks are the third Thursday of the month and feature topics related to hiking, backpacking, and our local natural history.

The next talk in the series is Thursday, November 15th, When the Animals Were People – storytelling with Chumash elder Julie Tumamait.

Posted by: James Wapotich | September 21, 2018

Trail Quest: Antimony and Eagle Rest Peaks

Hiked to Antimony and Eagle Rest Peaks a couple weeks ago. The trail to the saddle near Antimony Peak follows an old jeep road and is in good condition overall with some loose granite covering the trail on the ascent up to the saddle. The relatively short off-trail route east to summit is well-marked with cairns. Great views from the peak stretching east out towards the Tehachapi Mountains, north towards Frazier Mountain and Mount Pinos, and south towards Eagle Rest Peak, framed by the Southern San Joaquin Valley.

From the saddle, the old jeep road continues north and then north east a quarter-mile down to where the miners’ cabins were located.

Also, from the saddle, the off-trail route to Eagle Rest Peak continues north-northwest, following the ridgeline down to the peak. The route is fairly well-marked with cairns and, in some places, flagging. The wear pattern of the trail is remarkably consistent and in that regard is generally easy to follow. The full hike to both peaks is a somewhat strenuous roller-coaster of a hike, involving 2,900 feet of combined elevation loss and 2,400 feet of combined elevation gain on the hike out; the numbers are then reversed on the return hike. The final ascent to Eagle Rest Peak requires some rock scrambling, but also offers some great views of the surrounding area.

Article appears in section A of the September 17th, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

Antimony Peak San Emigdio Mountains jeep road trail hike los padres national forest

Antimony Peak in the early morning light

Eagle Rest Peak hike trail San Emigdio Mountain San Joaquin Valley Los Padres National Forest

Eagle Rest Peak with the southern San Joaquin Valley in the distance

Eagle Rest Peak trail hike San Emigdio Mountains Los Padres National Forest

Scenery along the trail to Eagle Rest Peak looking east

Eagle Rest Peak hike trail san emigdio mountains los padres national forest

Scenery along the trail to Eagle Rest Peak looking west

Eagle Rest Peak trail hike san emigdio mountains los padres national forest

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Posted by: James Wapotich | September 4, 2018

Trail Quest: McGill Trail and the Perseids

Camped at McGill Campground at the height of the Perseid meteor shower. Stayed up late to watch the meteors and then hiked McGill Trail the next day.

McGill Trail leads through mostly Jeffrey pines with a mixed understory of snowberry and whitethorn ceanothus and other plants along the trail. The trail offers some great views out across Cuddy Valley towards Frazier Mountain, as well as out across Tecuya Ridge and the San Emigdio Mountains towards the San Joaquin Valley and southernmost Sierra Nevada. Also made a hike to Mount Pinos.

The Perseids are an annual meteor shower that peaks in August. They are definitely worth catching. Mount Pinos lends itself well as an ideal location for viewing meteor showers and the night sky in general because of the often clear skies and low light pollution.

The next upcoming meteor shower that is equally promising is the Geminids, which will peak at 4:30 a.m., Friday, December 14, with good viewing Thursday night starting shortly before midnight when the moon sets.

Article appears in section A of the September 3rd, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

McGill Trail hike San Emigdio Mountains Tecuya Ridge Mount Pinos Los Padres National Foreest

The San Emigdio Mountains frame a view from McGill Trail

Jeffrey pines McGill Trail hike San Emigdio Mountains Tecuya Ridge Mount Pinos Los Padres National Foreest

Jeffrey pines are seen along McGill Trail

 

Posted by: James Wapotich | August 27, 2018

Trail Quest: Hot Springs and Buena Vista Canyons

Hiked both the Buena Vista Loop and the network of trails between Hot Springs and San Ysidro Canyons a couple weeks ago.

Buena Vista Trail is in okay shape up to the connector trails. The connector trail east up towards the Edison access road from Romero Canyon is in good shape past some initial fennel cluttering up the trail. The connector trail west over towards the Edison access road from San Ysidro Canyon has some slide damage just across the creek from the trail juncture, and then is overgrown with wild mustard much of the way up to the Edison access road. The access road is in great shape. All of the Edison access roads within the Thomas Fire burn area have been cleared. For the loop back to Buena Vista Canyon, Old Pueblo Trail is also in good shape having been recently worked by volunteers.

The trails between Hot Springs and San Ysidro Canyons are in great shape. The Edison access roads have been cleared and the lower trails and connectors were recently worked by volunteers.

For the article, I hiked Hot Springs Trail up to the old hotel site; then came down Saddle Rock Trail; took McMenemy Trail over to Girard Trail, and hiked the length of Girard Trail (great views of San Ysidro Canyon). From there, hiked the rest of McMenemy down to San Ysidro Canyon, returning back along Edison Catway and hiking the Hot Springs Loop Trail back to the trailhead. The burn damage is evident across the entire area, but there is a fair amount of plants coming back.

Currently all of the trails within in the Thomas Fire burn area have been reopened except Cold Springs Canyon, which remains closed including West Fork Cold Spring Trial. The upper portion of Cold Spring Trail, however, can be accessed from East Camino Cielo Road.

Article appears in section A of the August 20th, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

Buena Vista Canyon Trail Thomas Fire Santa Barbara Montecito hike Los Padres National Forest

Buena Vista Canyon is seen from the trail

Buena Vista Canyon Trail debris flow Thomas Fire Santa Barbara Montecito hike Los Padres National Forest

Familiar rock feature shows the height of the debris flow

Hot Springs Canyon Trail Thomas Fire Santa Barbara Montecito hike Los Padres National Forest

Hot Springs Canyon is seen from the trail

McMenemy Trail Thomas Fire Santa Barbara Montecito hike Los Padres National Forest

The Santa Ynez Mountains frame a view along McMenemy Trail

Saddle Rock Trail Thomas Fire Santa Barbara Montecito hike Los Padres National Forest

Saddle Rock Trail

 

Posted by: James Wapotich | August 26, 2018

Trail Quest: San Ysidro Canyon

Made two hikes up San Ysidro Canyon. The first was during some ridiculously hot weather. Rather than push past the falls, I decided to follow San Ysidro Creek as it turns away from the trail, just before the falls. The off-trail hike quickly arrives at the confluence of two side creeks flowing into San Ysidro Creek. Prior to the debris flow, exploring each of these three canyons would’ve requiring pushing through brush and weaving around poison oak and downed trees. Now, however, it’s relatively easy to travel up each of the canyons. In one, I found fresh bear tracks, in another a pair of garter snakes, and in another a Humboldt lily with an impressive 28 flowers.

For the second hike I got an earlier start and quickly made my way back up to the falls. The trail is in good enough shape overall. All the Edison access roads have been cleared and although the creek and debris flow flooded across parts of the trail, volunteers and hikers have forged a viable route.

Past the falls the trail continues uphill through the more exposed section that leads to the top of the mountains. There are a number of slides areas that require care and slow going in order to traverse before the trail gets up on to the ridge that separates the side canyon with San Ysidro Falls from the main canyon. Here, trail conditions start to improve. About a mile before the top, the trail arrives at a steep slide section that is essentially impassable.

I also made a hike from East Camino Cielo Road down to the slide. The trail is in decent shape until just before the slide. It will likely be a while before the slide damage is repaired.

Article appears in section A of the August 6th, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Older articles can be seen by scrolling down or using the search feature in the upper right corner. Articles from the News-Press appear here a couple months after they appear in the paper.

San Ysidro Canyon Trail debris flow Thomas Fire damage Santa Barbara montecito hike los padres national forest

San Ysidro Canyon looking downstream

Humboldt lily San Ysidro Canyon trail Santa Barbara montecito hike Los Padres National Forest

Humboldt lily with 28 flowers

Papilio rutulus western tiger swallowtail on Humboldt lily Lilium humboldtii san ysidro canyon santa barbara montecito los padres national forest

Swallowtail on Humboldt lily

Papilio rutulus a pair of western tiger swallowtail on Humboldt lily Lilium humboldtii san ysidro canyon santa barbara montecito los padres national forest

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San Ysidro Canyon Trail debris flow Thomas Fire damage Santa Barbara montecito hike los padres national forest

Off-trail San Ysidro Creek

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