Tuesday, April 27, 2010
04-24-2010 Sespe via Tar Creek
We decided to do the Tar Creek loop this weekend. It's a long, grinding trek with a lot of bouldering. We had done it once before, but in the opposite direction as this hike. We will be hiking the Sespe in a few weeks, and we thought it would be a good idea to check out the last campsite we'll be staying at. So we went down Tar Creek to the big falls at the bottom.
The big falls
Now there are few things I have to say about rappelling off the falls. First off there is no real need to rappel off the falls. There is a trail on the north side of the falls that will take you down to the bottom. Well, most of the way down, then you have to a little bit of scrambling. It may not be as exciting, but it's a million times safer then a rappel. There are some bolt anchors set into the edge of the big falls. Someone had left their nylon webbing behind. I guess they've worked so far, but I don't know why anybody would trust those rusty ass anchors. It looks like the glue-in bolt is okay, though its sister bolt seems to have disappeared somehow. If you just have to rappel down falls there are some fine natural anchors near the edge. But here's the deal, you have to pull your anchors before you leave. That means either bring a pull rope, and retrieve your webbing from the bottom, or leave a person up top that will remove the webbing for you. This is a Condor sanctuary and these falls have Condors bathing and drinking from them all the time. Condors are curious animals and can get wrapped up in old webbing or rope and die. It really saddened me to find out we had lost a Condor last year do to someone carelessly leaving some rope behind at the falls. Don't leave anything behind at Tar Creek, be it trash, food, or rope. These guys did it the right way. Follow their example.
So after I removed the offending webbing we made use of the before mentioned trail to make our way to the bottom. At the bottom the trail disappears and you have to make your way to the Sespe by climbing down a maze of gigantic boulders.
Making our way down to the Sespe
Somewhere between the big falls and the Sespe
Once down to the Sespe it's a short upcreek walk to the campsite. Unfortunately at this time of year the creek is still high enough that we had to cross twice to get to the campsite. And there's not much to it. It's just a flat sandy area framed by some rocks. There is a grill to cook on, but that's about it. Just a few steps upcreek of the campsite there is a cave formed by a colossal boulder that has fallen on two smaller boulders. There's room inside the cave for a few people to sit around a firepit.
The entrance to the cave. Bear Heaven in the background
This is also where the long trail from Tar Creek ends/starts. We managed to walk right past the trailhead, and then spent the next hour trying to find it a few hundred yards upstream. It was a relief to finally find the son of a bitch. Have you ever been to one of those carwashes where the brushes come in from the side and scrub the side of your car? Well this trail is like that, only replace the brushes with poison oak. Along the trail we ran into a couple coming the other way. They said they were trying to get to the Sespe Hotsprings. They said that they couldn't find a map, and were, "just winging it". We told them that it would be impossible to get the hotsprings. I didn't give them any shit about how stupid they were being by going out somewhere without a map or even a clue about where they were. I think they thought they were at Dough Flat. It took us about three hours to make it back to the Tar Creek trailhead from the Sespe.