Wednesday, December 29, 2010

12-27-2010 Tar Creek

Bear Heaven and Topatopa Peak

When it rains like it has been for the past few weeks, I really get an itching to get outside, and put some miles under my feet. The creeks are flowing again, snow caps the peaks of some of our taller mountains, and waterfalls are restored to their rightful glory. I love Tar Creek right after a rain. The canyon thunders with the sound of raging, muddy water. In the spring when the water calms down you can hop scotch along the rocks, and try to keep your socks dry. However, when the creek is rocking like it was this day, creek crossings take a more serious tone. If you slip and get caught in the hydraulics you are going to be in a world of hurt. Tar Creek is renowned for its huge purple sandstone boulders. The nice thing about sandstone is it doesn't get too slippery when wet. So jumping on to wet sandstone is not nearly as dangerous as the slick granite you'll encounter further north.

The hike to the cascades was easy enough. I think we only crossed the creek twice. The overhang waterfall was flowing with decent force.

We had to take the sorta sketchy side route on the river-right side due to the high water. There's a bit of exposure, and some careful foot placement is needed, but it wasn't too bad.

It looks like I'm fucking this rock.

After a little down-climbing, and crawling we made it to the 70ft (68ft) falls. Someone had left some black webbing tied to a boulder above the falls. I had to leap across the creek to cut and remove it. Here's a video of Frank pushing some logs over the falls.

Carefully we made our way down to the final section. The big falls were going off magnificently. The waterfall coming off of Bear Heaven was flowing. It only flows after it rains, but that is the tallest waterfall in the Ventura Los Padres that I know of.

Bear Heaven Falls

Just as I expected, there was some webbing threaded into the bolts at the big falls. I cut it out. I'll say it again, webbing and rope can kill condors. Please, if you're going to rappel Tar Creek, remove your webbing when you're done. Both rappels have walk arounds that someone in your party can use to bring the webbing down.

The Condors Perch

Then we took some pictures, and ate lunch. The water temperature was 47F. We didn't see any condors. I think this was our fifth trip down Tar Creek this year, and I haven't seen a condor once. In 2009 I saw condors every time we went down there. Sometimes we would see five at a time. I wonder what happened? I've seen them over the Stone Corral the two times we went by this year.

The hike back up was uneventful. It was little muddy, but not bad at all. We bumped into Jack from Jack Elliott's Santa Barbara Adventure on the way up the hill. Maybe he'll have a post about Tar Creek soon too. And that was it. Another trip to Tar Creek in the books. I'm sure there will be many more trips just like this one.