What should I do with myself on the first somewhat clear day of a three day weekend? Does it matter that the Super Bowl is on? To the former, I'll treat myself to a full tank of gas and no reservations. To the latter, no, the game doesn't matter to me. I'd rather take advantage of a day to myself. This day started early, getting turned around at Wheeler Gorge by the CHP due to a rock slide. I did not tell the officer that the CalTrans road conditions said that the 33 was open to 4wheel drive vehicles. I just turned around, drove through upper Ojai to Santa Paula and wound up in Frazier Park. The I-5 was catching hell, high winds and snow/sleet. I was having fun already.
Through Frazier into Lockwood Valley the weather remained unpredictable and the road was icy in the shade. I really love this nowhere valley of horse ranches and hunting lodges. After the Grade Valley cut-off the road descends into an area of badlands which were all the more spectacular for the dusting of snow on the caprock. The valley was very quiet, with only the wind blowing scattered flakes for company. Nobody was out today, only the horses of the Bar-Seven ranch. They were eager for a little company and I soon had several of them crowding the fence for a bit of rub. I got the sense that despite their winter coats, these guys would have liked a day in the barn. Anyway, they're tough.
As I left Lockwood Valley for Pine Mountain Pass on Hwy33, the weather got less pleasant, however it cleared quickly descending the pass to Pine Mountain Inn. Also, I had driven around a road closure which was unmanned. Hey, if CalTrans said it was open, then it was open. It didn't take long for me to realize that I had the whole Ojai back-country to myself. Stopping in the middle of the road to snap photos is easier than pulling over.
I pulled into Rose Valley for a look around. I wasn't feeling all that athletic but a quick run up to Rose Valley Falls seemed to fit my mood. These are a pair of stacked horse-tail falls that only run winter through spring. I felt pretty good about having them to myself for the morning. The falls are hard to photograph due to their height and angle, but I had some success today.
After visiting the falls, I drove to the end of Rose Valley Road. The whole valley was vacant, devoid of people. Even the Ojai Valley Gun Club was silent. Down at the end of the road, I took a shot at hiking into the Piedra Blanca (the white rocks in photos below), but the Sespe River was really a river today, and nobody knew where I was, so I just hung out for a while. Just a short way away the upper portion of Reyes peak was still in the weather while I sat in the sun. A beautiful day up there. Good day for just looking.
I also have a spot up in the area that I visit when I want to pop off a few rounds. Today I was test-firing a rifle I just built and, oh brother, that thing is fun to shoot! I'm not really going to get into what it is, or was before I made some dramatic changes to the original rifle. I think I just wanted to see if I could do it.
All in all, I have to admit that I'm pretty pleased with my day. Good pics, good space, and completely comfortable with being my own entertainment. The shot below is of Santa Cruz Island from the Hwy 33 crest. Oh yeah, I did watch the game. I was a bit disappointed with Manning in the fourth, but I didn't have a dog in the fight so it was good to see the Saints win. They were the better team anyway. Although Adai did have a great game. Okay, yeah, I'm done with this one.
North to South: Evolution Basin and Muir Pass
2 weeks ago