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

Posted by: James Wapotich | August 4, 2018

Trail Quest: Remote viewing Parma Park

Back in November my friend Dana loaned me one of his wildlife cameras. I had been meaning to get some so I could take them with me on backpacking trips. Recalling the advice of wildlife biologist David Lee, I first set the camera up in my backyard to get familiar with how it worked before taking it out into the field. I’d taken a class with David earlier that year on using wildlife cameras and learned a lot of useful tips that came into play as I got into using the cameras. The article I wrote about the class can be seen here.

After a successful run in my backyard, I began to wonder where else I could set one up. I eventually settled on Parma Park, which was close to where I lived, undeveloped enough, and not nearly as popular as the front country trails.

My first camera location didn’t pan out, even though it was located near a mountain lion kill. Learning from the experience, I found a spot with evidence of more animal traffic and set up my camera at an intersection of several game trails.

Three days after I set up the camera a pack of five coyotes wandered through. Other animals the camera recorded over the next three months included deer, skunk, rabbit, bobcat, and fox. Inspired by my initial results, I set up a second camera in Parma Park, which captured images of deer, bobcat, skunk, mouse, and a couple of birds. Overall, the most active wildlife in the park are the mule deer, specifically Odocoileus hemionus californicus, aka California mule deer or black-tailed mule deer.

Article appears in section A of the July 23rd, 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.

Below are images from the first successful site.

Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking bucks santa barbara

California mule deer aka black-tailed mule deer

Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck santa barbara

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coyote Canis latrans wildlife camera tracking santa barbara

Coyote

coyote Canis latrans wildlife camera tracking santa barbara

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coyotes Canis latrans wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

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bobcat Lynx rufus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

Bobcat

bobcat Lynx rufus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

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bobcat Lynx rufus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck

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Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking does

Does

skunk wildlife camera tracking santa barbara

Skunk

grey fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

Grey fox

Below are some images from the nearby second site.

Odocoileus hemionus californicus California mule deer black-tailed mule deer wildlife camera tracking buck santa barbara

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bobcat Lynx rufus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

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bobcat Lynx rufus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

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mouse wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

Mouse

Flicker Colaptes auratus wildlife camera tracking santa barbara

Flicker

grey fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus wildlife camera tracking parma park santa barbara

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Posted by: James Wapotich | July 9, 2018

Trail Quest: Romero Canyon

Recently hiked both Romero Trail and Old Romero Road making a large loop to the top of the Santa Ynez Mountains through the Thomas Fire burn area.

Both trails have been largely restored. The lower portion of Romero Trail along with all of Old Romero Road have been cleared. The upper portion of Romero Trail still requires some work but can be hiked with caution due to substandard trail conditions.

All of the front country trails have been reopened except for East and West Cold Spring Trails. However, the uppermost portion of East Cold Spring Trail is accessible from East Camino Cielo Road.

Article on Romero Canyon appears in section A of the 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.

Romero Creek Canyon Trail hike front country thomas fire burn area los padres national forest

Romero Creek

fire follower large-flowered phacelia old romero road canyon trail thomas fire burn area Los Padres national forest front country santa ynez mountinas

Fire follower, large-flowered phacelia can be seen along the trail

Romero Creek bridge flood debris flow damage thomas first canyon trail los padres national forest front country santa ynez mountains

The bridge across Romero Creek is no more.

Romero Trail canyon santa ynez mountains los padres national forest

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fire poppy Papaver californicum thomas fire burn area romero trail canyon santa ynez mountains los padres nation forest

Fading fire poppy

Old Romero Road Canyon Thomas Fire Burn area front country trails los padres national forest santa ynez mountains

Romero Canyon

 

Posted by: James Wapotich | June 25, 2018

Trail Quest: East & West Fork Lion Falls

On May 24, the Forest Service lifted the closure for all trails in the National Forest within the Thomas Fire burn area. The fire, which started on December 4, near Santa Paula, burned east all the way into the mountains behind Santa Barbara before being contained. The fire burned 281,893 acres and is the largest recorded wildfire in California history.

With access now largely restored it’s possible to visit these trails and see how they’re doing. While summer heat can make hiking in the backcountry less appealing, it occurred to me that a hike along Lion Canyon Trail could include a visit to the swim holes below East and West Fork Lion Falls.

The hike to both East and West Fork Lion Falls is about six miles roundtrip and provides a chance to see the burn area. The trail starts from Middle Lion Campground in Rose Valley behind Ojai.

The trailhead is reached from Ojai, by taking State Route 33 north to Rose Valley Road. Rose Valley Road leads past the turnoff for Rose Valley Campground and Rose Valley Falls, before arriving at the turnoff to Middle Lion Campground.

At the turnoff for Middle Lion, I discover the gate on the road is closed and that I will have to take the connector trail down to the campground to reach the trailhead. A sign on the gate says the campground is scheduled to reopen on June 30. A similar sign is found on the gate before Rose Valley Campground.

The connector trail adds another mile roundtrip, but is easy to follow and about halfway down joins the paved road to the campground.

From the campground, the trail quickly crosses Lion Creek. Here, a stretch of unburned alder trees line the creek, a remnant of the verdant beauty the canyon had before the fire. It isn’t until the end of the hike that I fully appreciate the cooling effect trees provide. A short ways past the crossing, most of the remaining trees along the creek have been burned.

Shade from trees not only provides direct relief from the sun, but through transpiration trees further cool the area around them by taking up water through their roots that evaporates through their leaves, stems, and flowers.

Lion Canyon Trail is easy to follow and where powdery ash and loose soil have settled on the trail, fresh bear tracks can be seen.

While the fire has effectively cleared all the brush in the canyon, spring is still in effect with wildflowers lining the trail. In the mix are annual wildflowers, as well as fire followers that have been activated by the heat, smoke, and other chemical clues from the fire. Both types of plants are benefitting from this year’s rain combined with the ash-enriched soil, more available sunlight, and overall lack of competition.

Covering many of the hillsides is both short-lobed and caterpillar phacelia. Also abundant is farewell to spring and Turkish rugging, which is part of the buckwheat family. Other wildflowers along the trail include goldenstar, chia, blue dicks, larkspur, lupine, and mariposa lilies. Wild roses are also in bloom.

Growing back from root burls is scrub oak, toyon, and chamise. Sycamore and California bay laurel are also sprouting back from their bases.

Taking in the amount of the new growth created by the plants it seems almost average for this time of year. Nature hasn’t been extra hard at work striving to recover from the fire, but rather has just kept growing and moving forward like it always does. It’s a powerful reminder to take one’s time. In my own life when I experience a set back, I feel embarrassed, even ashamed, and push myself to bring things back to the way they were or even ambitiously make them better than before.

But nature just goes at its own steady pace, or in the words of Lao Tzu, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

In spite of the burn damage, the trail is in generally good condition, no downed trees to contend with and no major slide damage across the trail.

As the trail climbs above the creek, the lack of brush offers unobstructed views out across the canyon. The same lack of brush also reveals more clearly the raw beauty of the terrain and its topography.

Rounding a corner, as the trail starts back down towards the creek, I spot a rattlesnake stretched out across the trail. It doesn’t coil up or rattle, but looking at its tail I can see that it has roughly 11 rattles.

It is a common misconception that the number of rattles indicates the age of the snake. Although rattlesnakes add a new rattle each time they shed their skin it doesn’t easily translate into years. Young snakes may shed as much as three to four times a year, while older snakes may shed once a year or less. Rattles can also break off over time and so the only thing that can be said for sure about this particular snake is that it shed its skin at least 11 times.

We stare at each other for a moment and then the snake decides to make its way towards me. With plenty of open space around me and not wanting any complicated discussions, I scramble off trail and yield the right a way.

At about the 1.5-mile mark from Middle Lion Campground, the trail arrives at the intersection with Rose-Lion Connector Trail. Here, Lion Canyon Trail continues along the edge of the broad flood plain of Lion Creek, which used to be lined with dense willow that is now growing back.

The trail the crosses Lion Creek before arriving at the four-way intersection that leads to East and West Fork Lion Falls. The crossing is less clear now without fully grown willow defining the trail corridor and silt from this year’s rain that has flowed across parts of the trail. But the lack of brush also makes it’s easier to read the landscape.

From the four-way intersection, I continue to the left towards East Fork Lion Camp. Here too the route is a little more challenging to accurately follow as it crosses East Fork Lion Creek. Past the crossing, the trail stays on the north side of the flood plain all the way to East Fork Lion Camp.

The camp is surprisingly undamaged. While there is little shade, the two large big-cone Douglas fir towering over the camp are still standing and only one of them has burn damage and just on one side. There is currently water flowing at the camp and the two camp sites are both usable.

Past the camp, an off-trail route continues up the canyon to the first cascade. Here, the creek tumbles over huge boulders of conglomerate stone creating a variety of pools and cascades.

Scrambling over the rocks, I quickly reach East Fork Lion Falls, sometimes referred to Spruce Falls. At the base of the waterfall is a chest deep pool of water that is the perfect antidote for the heat.

Retracing my route back to the four-way intersection, I continue over to West Fork Lion Falls.

The trail to West Fork Lion Camp stays on the east side of the flood plain the entire way to the camp.

As the trail rounds a bend in the canyon, it arrives at a surprisingly large patch of Humboldt lilies with more than two dozen in bloom and another 50 to 60 with buds that haven’t opened. The vibrant orange flower with brown spots can be found sporadically on other trails, as well as elsewhere in Lion Canyon, but here, walking through so many in bloom adds to the sense of discovery that exploring the backcountry can offer.

West Fork Lion Camp also has very little shade but is still otherwise usable.

Past the camp an off-trail route crosses the creek and makes its way up towards West Fork Lion Falls.

Although the pool at the base of the waterfall is not as deep as the one in East Fork Lion Canyon, it still provides welcome relief from the heat and lack of shade along most of the hike. For company, I share the pool with two garter snakes actively swimming around, who were there first. After cooling off, I hike back.

Rose Valley Falls is also flowing. The gate just before the campground is also closed, but it’s a short walk from the gate to the campground. From the campground, it’s about a half-mile to the base of the falls. The trail is similarly burned, but at the falls is a largely unburned pocket of California bay laurel and maple, which provide shade and add to the beauty of the scene.

This article originally appeared in section A of the June 25th, 2018 edition of Santa Barbara News-Press

Lion Canyon Trail Thomas Fire Ojai hike Los Padres National Forest

Lion Canyon

Lion Canyon trail pre-Thomas Fire hike Ojai Los Padres National Forest

Lion Canyon, 2015

Rattlesnake lion canyon trail los padres national forest

Rattlesnake with 11 rattles out on the trail

Mariposa lily lion canyon trail los padres national forest

Mariposa lily

Farewell to Spring Lion Canyon Trail los padres national forest

Farewell to Spring

Turkish rug lion canyon trail los padres national forest

Turkish rugging

Humboldt lily lion canyon trail los padres national forest

Humboldt lily

Rose Valley Falls trail ojai los padres nation forest

Rose Valley Falls

 

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