Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Further examination of the Topatopa Bluffs, 08/31/2011

I can think of no reason that a human being would have for going where I went today. And I have the cuts, scrapes, and bruises to prove it. I guess I should back up a bit and explain.

Below: click on the pic to see where I went, and will not need to go visit ever again.
Back on the 27th of July I went up Topa for a preliminary recon of the top of the Bluffs. This was to be the first step in a plan to find a way to the bottom of the bluffs, and then establish a climbing route back to the top. This was actually a serious idea to me, for some time. I have now been thoroughly disabused of that notion (hubris?). Suffice it to say, that after today that plan has been scratched.

Yesterday I drove up to Ojai and the overweight bureaucrat behind the desk at the USFS office gave me a permit and the gate combo for Nordoff Ridge Rd. This morning I drove up and hiked all over the top of Topa. I can now say that I know the top of that mountain as well as any and better than most. I descended to the edge of Topa Topa's three major prominences and descended the two drainages that bisect them. I can assure anyone with the same crazy idea I had that just getting down the bluffs will end in bloodshed and frustration, as it did for me.

Below: back in 1983 an equestrian club put this UFO looking water trap up on top. I'd known about this for years, even though it is now off the beaten path and can be difficult to find.

Below: Every way I tried to get down became a brush fight that I eventually lost, and I'm a tenacious guy. Who is now covered in scratches.

Below: Just one of the day's numerous insults.

So what did I learn today? First, I'm not doing that again. Second, and obvious (now), I am not going to put up a new route on the face of Topa. And third, all deer trails end with you wondering what the hell the deer was on when they went there. This is an apt lesson, and the irony does not escape me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pine Mountain and Environs, 08/28/2011

I am still relishing every second of not working on my house anymore. In that vein, and having done a full day up the Matilija furnace yesterday, I thought I'd head to the highest hill I could find. It's telling, I guess, that on a day when half of SoCal was headed straight for the beach, a true mountain boy turns his head (and steering wheel) in the opposite direction. Charlie don't surf!!
After several hours of bouldering in the pines my forearms ached and my tips were raw. I just couldn't believe how nice a day it was, too good to say, "Okay, done bouldering, headed home."
I just had to start taking some pics (you should be able to click on the pics to enlarge them).
Above: The boulders of the the "picnic area"
Below: I gotta try this. He was taking off just as I rolled by. He eventually caught a thermal that put him up, I would guess, at 10,000 feet.
Below: Ventura and the Oxnard plain.
Below: Lockwood Valley and the Cuyama Badlands
Below: the Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak ridge

Matilija heat, 08/27/2011

Ladies and gentlemen, I have gotten my free time back, therefore, I am. What I am not, is a guy stuck toiling away on a brand new kitchen anymore. It's up to the professionals now. I did the front half, they do the finish work. I cannot describe how happy I am to be out in the sun and getting dirty. Even if it is 105 degrees.
Why, it was so hot I saw a snake sippin' a Slurpee. So dang hot that lizards stood in my shade. So hot the turtles took off their little shells and complained about the humidity. Well, I've walked through the furnace a time or two and good ole Satan himself has shared with me his passion fruit iced tea. And a few tips for loving the heat.
I, at times, have lived throughout the desert southwest. I've learned a fair bit about staving off heat stroke. Seen it in others plenty of times. Far easier to prevent than treat, believe you me. I always get a wry grin out of the people I see on the trail on scorching days. Most of them look distinctly unhappy. First rule: know thyself.
Despite the heat I had a really wonderful day out there. I'm that stoked to be back at the things I love, that I'd look forward to hiking in a canyon in triple digit temps. So, I look forward to making up for some lost time. See ya soon.