Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peakbagger's 1 day Ojai Triple Crown. Sisar>Hines>Topatopa Bluff>Chief>Thatcher. 28 miles, 7,000 feet of up, 13 hours.

Must start 2011 with a bang. My sick mind devises a linkage of peaks which, perhaps has been done, but I've never heard of it. This route starts in the dark at the Sisar Road trailhead and ends in the dark at Thatcher School, between which, I will ascend Hines Peak, Topa Topa Peak, and Chief Peak. These peaks are all very familiar to me and to the blog, but lately I have been thinking about high mileage linkages and it occurred to me that these three peaks could be put together as a 28 mile one-day walk with 7,000 feet of ascent for a little spice. Crazy right? Yesterday I did it.

The day started at 03:00 when I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. So I got up and hydrated. Drank a bunch of coffee too, of course. A bit after 04:00 I left the house and drove up to Thatcher School in Ojai. My good friend Cliff Griffiths is an early riser and he agreed to meet me at Thatcher and give me a ride into Upper Ojai and all the way up to the Sisar Rd trailhead. Thanks again, Cliff! As we bounced up Sisar in his pick-up we got a sign that this would be a great day. A pair of handsome juvenile foxes crossed the road in the glare of the headlights. Cliff went on to Tar Creek that day and I started what I'm now calling The Triple Crown.
I started in pitch black, walking through an eerie wood, the cold breeze creating a multitude of small noises. Little things stirred outside the cone of light from my lamp. It was chilly and I moved quickly. I made good time as the sun rose. I stopped only briefly at White Ledge before moving ever upward to the bench on the ridge. Here I stashed some hi-tech muscle recovery drinks. My plan was to pick them up on the return trip toward Chief Pk.
I continued east up the fire road to the saddle and started strolling toward Hines, the plan being to knock out the toughest and the tallest peak first. After a break at the Ladybug junction I made short work of the climb up Hines, which was mostly free of snow. I did the usual summit thing: pictures, logs, texts and such while taking in the incredible panorama on this extraordinary January day. The descent was uneventful and I was on my way to Topa Topa.

Done with Hines, sitting atop Topa. Taking in calories and caffeine and NSAIDs and water. Absolutely blocking all thought of distance or time. Those are irrelevant. I will get there when I get there and it will be what it is, but I will get there.
I trudged through the endless miles of ridge road until at last I was at the ugly base of Chief Peak. It's pointy summit protrudes into the fading sky. It tries to look bigger and tougher than it really is. Chief peak is a fraud, it ain't hard. It's just one step after another like this whole damn day has been. My mind is in control. I climb the peak, sit on it's summit, breath it's air. 7 miles to go.

I descend from Chief to the road as the sun begins to set, and ramble through the next many miles. I pass through the Pines and know that I am close. I notice that I have a moon shadow. I take a break to stare at this bright 3/4 moon and the winking stars and I realize that this day has been one of the best days I've had in a while. Every part of the day was beautiful, mild, clear and bold. I realize that I feel pretty good for having walked 26 miles so far. Yes, a very good day.
With a bright light over my left shoulder I decided to walk the remaining 3 miles to the truck without using my headlamp. It was just too fine an evening to use artificial light, even in the darkest forest bottoms. I walked quietly to the accompaniment of frogs and crickets and even negotiated Horn Canyon's 4 creek crossings without difficulty, which considering my proclivity for falling in moving water is surprising. This was a really nice night walk.
Well, I done it! Here's the time-line:
Sisar Road (start): 05:35
White Ledge Camp: 07:05/mile 4.5
Bench on the Ridge: 08:10/mile 6.5
Saddle: 09:05/mile 8
Lady Bug Junction: 09:55/mile 11
Hines Peak summit: 10:30/mile 11.5
Topa Topa summit: 12:15/mile 14
Chief Peak: 15:10/mile 20
Horn Canyon Trail: 16:40/mile 24
Thatcher School: 18:35/mile 28 Total Time: 13:00 hrs


  1. Wow, that's a lot of walking. You make it sound easy. But I gotta tip my hat to you, that's a heck of hike. Nicely done.

  2. Nice.,;,.,.,;,.,.Gnarly!!?!!?! Looking at this blog post is really making me want to hike up a mountain this weekend. Thanks.

  3. That sounds like an awesome day!
    I just discovered you blog, there are tons of places I want to go. I live in Ojai, and enjoy adventures. is my email if your ever down for a hike. my name is tarek