Thursday, November 28, 2013

Beartrap Canyon, 11/27/13

Upper Reyes Camp

The following are photos are from the Upper Reyes Creek drainage, the high-country between Reyes Canyons and Beartrap Canyon, and the Beartrap Canyon drainage. I spent the day exploring several of the side drainages coming off the north side of Reyes-Haddock Ridge, which feed into the uppermost portion of Beartrap Creek. It was a beautiful day for some off-trail exploring in a quiet stretch of lonely wilderness. And a beautiful place to spend some time. -DS

Upper Reyes Creek

A drainage that feeds Eastern Beartrap Creek.

East Beartrap Creek

Gene Marshal Piedra Blanca Trail.
The Cuyama Badlands, Mt Abel and Mt Pinos.
Reyes and Haddock Peak from Hwy 33
The coast from Hwy 33

Monday, November 25, 2013

The "new" Vertical Heaven

Wall #1

Vertical Heaven has not only changed their location but it seems that they've also changed their business model. If you're a kid, this is a good thing. If you're a chalk breathing gym rat, not so much.

Here's the bad news: over 60% less climbable wall space, no vertical roped climbing either on lead or top-roped, and only two large bouldering walls with little space to "lap the wall". Wall #1 is probably 80 feet wide with a nice overhang of good depth. Wall #2 is about 40 feet wide with less angle. And both climbing surfaces look like a petulant child hurled his bowl of Fruity Pebbles on them. On the bright side, the same old volunteer route setters have put up a number of excellent problems with a full range of difficulties.

Here's the good news: The place looks like Fruity Pebbles. The new padding is top notch. One no longer has to walk to Reality Church to pee, and the place is air-conditioned. VH will soon be catering to children and their parents. A tree house with it's own fireman's pole, and a party room are the centerpieces of the soon-to-be "Fun Zone". A separate studio within the building will soon be offering yoga once a week with more classes planned, at a reduced rate to monthly VH members. Non-members will, of course, pay more for the classes. Somehow the gym plans to use some of it's floor space for fitness machines. 

Regular monthly membership rates remain around $45/mo after a one-time $75 fee. Yoga classes will be offered at between $5-10 per class for members and should be going by mid-December, I am told. 
Vertical Heaven can now be located at 5600 Everglades St. in Ventura. The building looks pretty corporate from the outside and sits kitty-corner to the southeast of Victoria Care Center.

Wall #2
Wall #1
The studio on the left will have yoga, and you can see the "Fun Zone" under construction.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Traditional First Nations Code of Ethics: An Ideal

"Raven People", by Roy Henry Vickers
The following is reprinted from Learning By Designing, Pacific Northwest Coast Native Indian Art, Vol. 2. This may be of interest to some of you.

"All cultures have ideals or ethics, either spoken or unspoken. Ideals are always something to strive for, the ultimate goal. The following code of ethics and philosophy was a consensus decision by a group of First Nations Elders from across North America who met at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada for the Four Worlds Development Project based at the University.

1. Give thanks to the Creator each morning upon rising and each evening before sleeping. Seek the courage and strength to be a better person.

2. Showing respect is a basic law of life.

3. Respect the wisdom of people in council. Once you give an idea it no longer belongs to you; it belongs to everyone.

4. Be truthful (with compassion) at all times.

5. Always treat your guests with honour and consideration. Give your best food and comforts to your guest.

6. The hurt of one is the hurt of all. The honour of one is the honour of all.

7. Receive strangers and outsiders kindly.

8. All races are children of the Creator and must be respected.

9. To serve others, to be of some use to family, community, or nation are the main purposes for which people are created. True happiness comes to those who dedicate their lives to the service of others.

10. Observe moderation and balance in all things.

11. Know those things that lead to your well-being and those things that lead to your destruction.

12. Listen and follow the guidance given to your heart. Expect guidance to come in many forms: in prayer, in dreams, in solitude and in the words and actions of elders, friends, situations and happenings.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tar Creek 11/22/13

12/10/13: The US Forest Service will be enforcing access restrictions to Tar Creek soon. TC is part of the Condor Sanctuary established as critical habitat to this endangered bird and other wildlife. Epic numbers of visitors, and the trash and graffiti they have left behind, has led to the acknowledgment by the Forest Service that access must be curtailed and enforced. For more information on the impending action visit: Tar Creek Closure.

On this cold and blustery day I was joined by Chris Ferrier, he of the condor's wingspan and giant's stride. We enjoyed a simple day of exercise and conversation, with topics ranging from layman's astrophysics to the rise and fall of civilizations. Tar may not be much of a creek right now but I never lose my fascination with that canyon. We came armed with trash bags but found to my great delight that some person(s) had already been through, clearing 98% the summer's litter away. A huge tip of my hat goes to them. They have my gratitude. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fresh Vandalism: Piedra Blanca Camp Pictographs

As disciplined as I'm trying to be about negative emotions and not saying things that imply judgement of others, some people just suck and deserve a brick to the head. While on an otherwise excellent day of rediscovering a long ignored friendship with Leo Genet (Asst. Scoutmaster Troop 302 Santa Paula) we ran into evidence of fresh vandalism to the pictographs at Piedra Blanca Camp. The upper image needs no explanation. The bottom image shows markings that indicate to me that this person or persons stood back and threw rocks at the art. I have a loose connection to the Site Monitor and sent him these images yesterday so he can report them to the appropriate authorities.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Haddock Peak and Environs 11/14/13

The other day I had a darn good bouldering session at the Picnic Area and Happy Hunting Grounds on Pine Mountain. Pulling down on 80 grit sandstone is always good for what ails me and I enjoyed the cool and crisp aura of fall while shredding my tips. Enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I resolved to come back again for a little 12 mile stretch of the legs a couple days later. Mountain therapy is good for the soul. I consider it my version of going to church. 

It has dawned on me while scrolling back through recent posts that I haven't done a helluvalot in our beloved forest for a while, and though I've kept busy at the rock gym and powering around on my shiny new Santa Cruz (which is now quite dirty and has a warped back wheel), nothing is better for me than sole power, pun intended. Me and miles, miles and me. We go together like fleas and hounds. Time to get back to it. I already knew exactly where I was supposed to go, the high and piney regions of the Reyes Wonderland. 

I started from the Reyes trailhead (as opposed to Chorro Grande) and headed over to the summit. This part of the day has two brief but steep climbs through forested slopes. In between these little steps are open areas of ridge-top with classic views of the coast, and looking toward the interior of the Cuyama Badlands. This ridge also hosts some interesting wind-twisted trees, some of which are quite amusing. The climbers out there might be interested in the Astroid Belt and the Mothership, which are just off the trail if one knows where to look. I topped out on the familiar summit of Reyes in what seemed like mere moments. 

Frazier Mountain in the distance.

After a short time I headed downhill and east, picking up the main trail toward Haddock a short time later. There isn't really a use trail coming off Reyes in that direction but unless there's snow on the ground that trail is hard to miss. Down on the cool and shadowy north side of Reyes I settled into the rhythms of the path and let my mind wander. There's been a lot going on up there lately. I kept my head up and paid attention to my surroundings with a bit more awareness than usual. I didn't want to miss a thing and concentrated on taking in my surroundings, focusing on every aspect of this beautiful forest. I have a newfound appreciation for these moments of solitude. I've spent too much of my energy over the years concentrating on the destination and not the journey. I was stuck by a weird concept, that I've just blazed through so many places and taken them for granted that from here forward I can continue my explorations with a rekindled awareness of the beauty and mystery of such places. I was also hit on the head by the notion that I was truly grateful to live so near to such a pretty place. It was much like the sensation rediscovery.

Looking down the Potrero John drainage. Been there, is muy dangeroso!
Reyes Peak from the east.

Haddock Peak from the west.

I reached Haddock and spent a few minutes there before turning back the way I'd come. I headed back to Reyes at an uncharacteristically mellow pace. I took time to appreciate the views one at a time. From one place I could look over to Frazier Mountain, another stop afforded views of Cerro Noroeste and Grouse and Sawmill and Pinos. At times I could view the summit of Cuyama Peak with it's flanks shrouded in a gauzy haze. I pulled out numerous times along the ridge to gaze out toward the islands or peer down the Potrero John drainage. I peeled off the trail and checked out various buttes and rock formations. I found where several deer had bedded down under the overhang of a huge calico formation. I paused to watch a squirrel be a squirrel. At last I found a pile of boulders hanging off the north side of the ridge which allowed views down into Beartrap Canyon. Here I sat for a while feeling the cool fall air moving around through the pines. I observed several small birds and was content to just sit and watch the world.

Haddock Peak Summit.

It was on this day that I came to the conclusion that I had to write the post which precedes this one. I felt very calm and unusually comfortable in my own skin. I compiled the history and the ideas that I wanted to convey in that writing and spent a good bit of time contemplating whether I should write it and what motivation was compelling me to do so. In time I had fleshed out the details of that essay and I concluded that it was something I had to do. The response to that post has been a bit overwhelming and I have written numerous emails in reply to people who have had similar life experiences and troubles with emotional disorders and substance abuse. It was heartening to not feel as alone, but those letters also highlighted just how common abuse and molestation is, and the lifelong impact left on its survivors. I've come to the conclusion that we live in a sick society, one that largely sweeps these distressingly frequent traumas under a rug, leaving the survivor to carry this burden around like a ball and chain, and that those people are pre-programmed by experience to seek comfort in a bottle or some other self-harming behavior. I was also surprised by the number of people that felt that I'd rattled something in their tree which provoked the hard questions of addiction. Not only does our society not want to hear of these issues, it does not really want to have a serious conversation about abuse and its effects, addiction in general, and especially not mental health. There are some seriously misplaced priorities in this nation and the media and marketing machine we're hooked on doesn't want people to give it any serious thought, and consequently the stigmas of the above disorders remain largely ignored in the national conversation. Abuse, addiction, and mental disorders just aren't sexy enough for primetime. It's shameful. And the cycle continues, worsens by the day in fact.

...from the pines to Anacapa...

Another peek at Haddock, from the east.

I just want to encourage everybody to take their time out there. Maximize the experience and be in the moment. And be good to one another.