Sunday, April 26, 2009

Matilija Falls, 04/26/09

I had a fantastic day in the Ojai backcountry with Dave Rivas. We did the 14 mile round trip day-hike up the Matilija watershed. This is a long and strenuous creek-bed hike that we do several times a year. Neither of us had been up there since spring started and the foliage was green, the water was running great, and the temps were perfect.

Up in the canyon can be found numerous blue/green swimming holes, several nice camp-sites, and of course, the two sets of double falls. The first and more popular falls is the one I call the west falls and it is a true double waterfall, with one 60 foot waterfall filling a pool which spills over and becomes a 40 foot waterfall. This is a very pleasant place to relax and swim.

Up a North branch of the canyon is another, more spectacular set of waterfalls. The upper of the two falls is truly beautiful and boasts a deep turquios pool and several high points to jump from. We spent over an hour there, swimming and soaking up harmful UV rays.

On the hike out we added a very healthy Pacific Diamond-back to the other wildlife we had seen: ducks, jays, hawks, turtles and two other types of snake. This has been a really good weekend.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Lockwood Valley, Grade Valley, & Apache Canyon, 04/25/09

Had myself an outstanding day exploring the Los Padres/Mt.Pinos areas on the bike. I started on Grade Valley Rd. out of Lockwood Valley. I rode 20+ miles there, hitting Half Moon Camp and the Johnson Ridge Trailhead, stopping now and then for photos. I saw only one other party in the entire valley, which has several creeks and wide swaths of forest.

Later I explored an abandoned ranch house which, judging by the electrical outlets and old furnace, dates back to well before the 1940's. It was probably a working ranch before the advent of electricity. There were several out-buildings made of genuine adobe, clay mixed with straw. Those structures were all but falling down. On the walk out I was greeted by a small herd of horses, maybe 12, who were curious to see who had dropped by.

Eventually I arrived at the trailhead for Apache Canyon OHV area and after unloading the bike, rode 10 twisting miles into the Cuyama badlands. That place felt really remote, and I was glad that I always carry what I need to survive for a couple of days in case I become stranded. The Canyon widened out at several points revealing wide planes of mesquite, juniper, and tiny wild-flowers. It was very pretty. Spring has arrived for the high-desert. What a great day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ballinger Canyon ride, 04/14/09

I took the bike up to Ballinger Canyon OHV Area near Cuyama today. Just felt the need to make some noise and stir up some dust. I had a great time until I blew my rear tire tube. I got to see numerous jackrabbits, quail, hawks and even a juvenile bobcat. The trails are definitely worth a return visit. Just had a nice day.

Once the tire-gods had decreed that my riding was over for the day I decided to take the long way back to Ventura and drove west through pristine ranch land: lush grasslands, rolling hills dotted with more oak trees than cattle, and wildflowers everywhere. Just a really nice drive all the way into Santa Maria, then I took the San Marcos Pass back to the coast.