Monday, March 11, 2013

Nordoff Peak Lookout via Cozy Dell and Pratt Trails, 03/07/13


On a cold and cloudy Thursday morning I was looking for some mileage. I wracked my head for something to do that I hadn't already done. Nordoff Peak came to mind, though not with much enthusiasm. Nordoff just seemed like a long climb up the Pratt Trail and not a lot else. An incoming rainstorm and a long grade to a scorched steel structure didn't seem like much of a challenge. I looked at ways to spice things up. I added a few miles to the day by starting the day on the Cozy Dell Trail which takes off from Hwy 33. For dessert I decided to take a long lost "historic" trail down the west ridge of the peak. That part of the story deserves it's own post. Stay tuned.

I started out at sunrise, churning up the "breakfast hill". Any trail that makes you climb a steep hill from the first step becomes a "breakfast hill". Maybe you'll wish you had a lighter breakfast. Cozy Dell is a nice path, bordered on both sides by lush poison oak, which quickly climbs a winding track up to a small saddle. From there the route heads eastward while climbing and descending a series of small hills before finally rolling downhill into a pleasant valley. The high points along this walk offer nice views down into downtown Ojai.

I soon reached the junction with the Pratt trail and dropped into a lower gear. As a friend of mine once said while staring up a gnarly hill, "It goes up from here.". One time while still only half way up a murderous 40% grade he gave me a completely deadpan look and said, "It gets steep here." I just stopped and laughed my ass off while sucking air. Next time you're on a hideous hill I recommend calling it a good old fashioned name like "Scallywag!" and laugh at the hill. It's empowering, doesn't do a damn thing about the hill though. 
I was deeply suspicious of the Pratt. I thought it'd be as steep and rocky as the nearby Gridley and Horn trails. In the end, mmm...not so bad.



The Pratt Trail offers a long climb to Nordoff Ridge. I found the path to be nice and not so rocky, with great views back into the valley. Parts of the trail are nicely cut into steep hillsides, giving one the perception that you are really gaining elevation. As I passed into the cloud deck I realized that one of the more remarkable things about this trail is the persistently consistent angle of climb. This was a very well engineered trail. The trail just went right up the hill at 18-24 degrees of angle, with almost no deviation. I liked the Pratt. 

Having crested the Pratt I now hung a right (E) and finished the last mile to the Lookout. I had been in and out of the clouds but as I reached the summit the cloud broke around the tower. All that remains here is a second generation steel scaffold upon which the old lookout had been built.

Benchmark: Nordoff

video

I really liked the walk I took, Cozy Dell to Pratt. The mileage comes to around 7 miles and I'd say that this day is worth doing. Stay tuned for the second portion of this day. Shit got real.

The Ventura River Valley and Lake Casitas.



3 comments:

  1. David. Good report, thanks.

    Yesterday we hiked up Pratt to Nordhoff lookout, then Nordhoff ridge road east to Howard Creek Trail and down. There was a bit of snow and mud on Howard and it had been extensively cleared of brush. Total trip was 10 miles and 4500' of climbing.

    I keep looking at the "long lost "historic" trail down the west ridge of the peak." so looking forward to your report on that. I know it connected with 33 at onetime.

    Don
    Ventura

    ReplyDelete
  2. David. Good report, thanks.

    Yesterday we hiked up Pratt to Nordhoff lookout, then Nordhoff ridge road east to Howard Creek Trail and down. There was a bit of snow and mud on Howard and it had been extensively cleared of brush. Total trip was 10 miles and 4500' of climbing.

    I keep looking at the "long lost "historic" trail down the west ridge of the peak." so looking forward to your report on that. I know it connected with 33 at onetime.

    Don
    Ventura

    ReplyDelete
  3. Don. You're a young man! Don't do it!

    ReplyDelete