Thursday, December 25, 2014

No Name Canyon

I need a break from the Sespe for a bit. I've logged four recent trips into the Trout Creek morass and added this (today's) bit of scrum to the mix. Off-trail drainages have been a recurring theme lately. Partly I figure it's wise to knock these places out before the marijauna growing season starts up again.  Encounters of the narco kind aren't my idea of fun, and I've concluded that every little drainage in the SLP, no matter how remote, hosts such sites. Also, these drainages are kind of fun in their own sadistic way. But they sure do dish out a beating. 

The itinerary for this day included an exploratory recon up an unnamed drainage on the south side of the Sespe and just west of Bear Creek. This gully has caught my eye on occasion. The entrance from the Sespe is framed by a clustered jumble of highly eroded red-brown formations. This feature is fairly easy to thread but it does narrow down to a neat little slot. On either side of the slot are pocketed strata which rise like a small gorge to either side of the gully's outflow. In other words, this slot is a natural gate.

I, and Josh Weir, slipped through the gate and proceeded a mile up an extremely brush choked gully. Due to the recent rains, and the fact that this gully drains off a northern slope, every rock was slicker than snot. Muddy feet and slick rocks made for a tough go. The day was not without injury. As the drainage continued its winding course upstream we gradually passed into a zone of oaks scattered with a few sycamore trees. The brush remained a persistent hazard and we were often forced out of the creek onto muddy slopes in order to bypass particularly troublesome tangle or deadfall. 

After a while the trees grew taller and more abundant. The way forward became dark, dank and wet, the rocks blanketed in green moss. The gully steepened and water cascaded down numerous little falls. We climbed upward between immense boulders, sometimes over or under them. We slipped on slick rocks and dead leaves. Our pants were soaked and muddy from the knee down. 

We eventually climbed into a huge and deeply shadowed gorge of grey stone. This feature is very visible from the Sespe Trail and forms a dramatic "V" over the drainage.  Near vertical cliffs rise above a small hollow for several hundred feet on each side. The small space in between these walls was crowded with oaks, sycamores, and large boulders. Several old spruce trees grew in the upper part of the gorge. 

Farther up from the spruce trees the drainage devolved into a mess of manzanita and scrub oak, so we returned to the little hollow in the bottom of this upper gorge. We sat under the trees and had some breakfast and conversation, though Josh talks enough for both of us and I was mostly content just to listen. A quiet breeze stirred the sycamores and dried leaves rustled and fell. The little creek burbled through the rocks. Upstream a jay squawked. It was a good morning, grey and overcast, moody. Excellent exploring weather.

A view across the Sespe to Thorn Point.

Sespe Creek after the rains (and below).


  1. I enjoy the mystery of faces in all yours posts. Whoever it might be out on the trail with you, the cover of the face by a hat brim is always there. Same goes for that chatty cathy you took out in this post.

    1. Hah! No worries Josh. Sometimes it's good for us introverts to get dragged into conversation. -DS

  2. Looks like you boys had fun. Man, nice to see flow in the Sespe again. Can you order up some more of that please?

    1. Yo Rico, I wish I had that kind of clout cuz we wouldn't be in a drought!