Monday, February 18, 2013

Fox Mountain (HPS), 02/13/13

Fox Mountain from Santa Barbara Canyon Rd.
So I'm getting better day by day which means two things. One, I need to start hiking again, gradually building up to where I'm supposed to be. And two, I have to go back to work, which is ok, I guess. This last month just needs to go away. I've gotten kind of deconditioned and it was time to get out and push my heart rate up. With that in mind I opted for something short and steep, preferably something I hadn't done. Fox Mountain fit the bill nicely.

Fox Mountain is the highest point to the south as one drives through the ranch land heading into Santa Barbara Canyon, way up there by Cuyama. For directions I'll just refer you to the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter HPS page for Fox. Those directions (and some orange tape I marked the parking site with) should get you there. A small drainage comes down the right hand (North) side of the Y-shaped parking area. Just cross this drainage and start climbing. Just so you know, there is no easing into this climb. It takes off hard and steep from the word "go". 

Like I say, this hike climbs right out of the gate. The mileage to the summit is a paltry 2.5 miles, but the route tries to make up for that with angle. This little summit hop gains 2,300ft in those brief miles, so come expecting a grade. Actually, this route reminded me a lot of nearby Samon Peak, which climbs an ascending ridge of "steps". In the case of Fox, there are two of these steep grades followed by a bit of moderately level terrain ending in a final step to a large and rounded summit crowned with scrub pine and juniper. As for the trail, I liked it. This route was pretty well defined, well established with many old trail ducks. The few brief sections of route vaguery are easily resolved and the brush is pretty minimal.

I made the most of the grades, pushing my tachometer up to red just to see what I'd do. I half expected to gas out midway up this thing but no, that's not at all what happened. I trucked up this thing like it was any other hill. And that was a pretty good feeling. Next I'll be upping the mileage and before long I'll be back to my usual tricks. It took me 1:10 from the truck to the summit.

A rare perspective into the Santa Barbara Canyon Ranch.

On the summit I found an old benchmark dating from 1942, some ancient boards, and a very rusted coffee can register. I wandered around the top of Fox, taking in some unique views I hadn't seen before. I could see Mt McPherson and Salisbury Potrero to the west, Samon and Madulce to the south, Cuyama and Reyes to the east and sitting to the north above the Cuyama Valley stood the Caliente Range. The views here are worth the walk, especially if you wanted a decent look westward along the north side of our coastal range. I liked this peak. 
The standard HPS coffe can register.
The spiral pad in the register dates to 1995 and hosts long lists of Sierra Club group hikers. And nobody else. No solo trips, no random visitors that didn't leave an HPS hash next to their name. I'd like that to change, so somebody out there go do this thing and you'll see the list of the 12 or so Sierra Clubers who I ran into on my way down. You want to know where the licence plate frames said their two SUV's were from? North Hollywood! That's where! We've got more people from LA climbing our little peak than the locals ever do! There is something intrinsically wrong with that. Support your local mountains! Climb 'em!

Fox, 1941.

I've had a hell of a month, and had just buried my cat the day before. It's been a ride, the kind that rattles on loose tracks nailed to a swaying roller coaster. I want off this ride. My time on summit was spent reflecting on things, trying to wrap my head around some of the things that I've undergone recently. I'm tired of "bummers". Blue sky, clean air and long views never hurt anyone.
One of these days I'll have to head up to Caliente Mountain. On a cool day.

A view east to Cuyama Peak with Pine Mtn and Reyes in the distance.

I'd recommend Fox Mountain if you're in the neighborhood and aren't doing anything else. It's a neat little climb with views to spare. I'm glad I saved it for a day just like today, and it's good to be back at it. Time to dial things up a tad.

Another view towards the Cuyama Badlands.

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