Talk about getting a break with the weather. As the rest of the country swelters, we in SoCal have been experiencing a very mild summer which means that a trip up SP Peak in August was in the realm of possibilty. For this outing I was joined by Eric and Frank of Venutra County Canyoneering Club. These guys study the of maps and go to the remote places of the Los Padres, but due to access issues, hadn't yet been to SP Peak or Cienega Camp.
The front side (south) of SP Peak is as brushy, scratchy, steep and hot as anything in our neighborhood. Elevation gain over five or so miles is around 3,800ft, In other words, not fun. To compound this misery, apparently Eric was attacked by bees and suffered 6 stings to his head and neck. I was ahead of the pack and didn't witness this indignity. We chose to leave the summit for day 2, to tag it on the way out. The north side of SP Peak is shady and nice, with beautiful forest scenery and the 1,000ft descent into Cienega is one of the nicest sections of backcountry in our area. We had a very nice evening including steaks on the grill and conspicuous consumption of firewood. The campsite itself has many perks including year round water, a concrete BBQ pit, big benches, all the camping cookware one could want, and a 20ft picnic table. This makes up for the suffering involved in getting there.
After a late morning start we quickly regained the altitude we had lost coming into Cienega. After fifteen more minutes of scramble we reached the summit of SP Peak. This peak has one of the best 360 degree panoramas in SoCal. Even with the coastal fog we were able to see from Oxnard to the San Gabriel mountains.
This was a nice little over-night and the "new guys" were great. I look forward to the possibility of future outings with these gentlemen.
Rose Valley and Howard Creek
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