Wednesday, July 27, 2011
07-23-2011 Romero Canyon
This week I challenged myself to find a good hike using public transportation to get me to the trailhead and back. There are plenty of reasons for wanting to use the bus. I was thinking it would be nice to for a one-way hike to not have to drive back the trailhead and retrieve a vehicle. I didn't find anything in Ojai. So I looked to Santa Barbara. I saw the 14 goes right by Romero Canyon. Okay I'll do that I thought. If it seems reasonable at a later date maybe I could make it into a multi-day trip through the Murrietta Divide, and get picked up at Matilija. So I figured out what time I would have to catch the Vista Bus from Ventura to SB. I wanted to get up there early, but the way the schedules worked out I didn't get to SB until 8:30. The bus ride through Montecito is pretty nice. The bus driver pointed out some the highlights to me.
Driver: "There's Oprah's estate"
Me: "Oh, that's pretty impressive"
Driver: "That's just the guest house, you can't see her house from the road"
The bus dropped me off on the 192 (East Valley Rd.) and Romero Canyon Rd. The road immediately starts angling upward towards the mountains. There's no sidewalk but traffic is pretty light. The street is lined multi-million dollar mansions with exotic cars in the gated driveways. Being a gate maker in Montecito must be a great gig. Everybody has one, and they all look like they are trying to be fancier then their neighbors. One might be made of intricate iron work, another ornate tiles, or maybe finely crafted wood.
It took me about twenty-five minutes to walk up the 1.75 miles to the trailhead. There were a few cars parked along the side of the road. I couple and their dog arrived at the same time I did. I watched them walk right past the dogshit bag dispenser. After a few hundred yards the dog started shitting all over the trail. It was a pretty impressive amount of dookie for a little dog. The owners did not even pause to consider picking up after their pup. So I picked up some poop and threw it at them. No, I didn’t do that. I didn’t do anything actually. In hindsight I should have spoken up and at least embarrassed them. Maybe next time.
I had brought the USGS topo for the area (Carpinteria quad 1988) but the trail I was on didn’t feel like it matched the trail on the map. I was on a trail right next to the creek and the map just showed an old road further to the east. Meh, I just kept charging up the trail. Every once in while I would hear a bell jingling to alert me to a mountain biker that was coming down the trail.
After about an hour and twenty minutes I came to a junction. A wide dirt trail ran east-west and the trail I was on continued upward. There are few signs there that just say, “Trail”. Gee, no shit that’s trail, and that’s a tree, and that’s a rock. What would actually be helpful is if the signs identified the trails or said where they went. Can you imagine driving around town and all the street signs just said, “Street”.
I stopped there for about ten minutes and ate some Pop-Tarts. Every couple of minutes mountain bikers would come by on the east-west trail. I dunked my hat in the cool flowing water of the nearby creek. I wasn’t really sure if I was I on the right trail, but I figured up was the right direction to go.
I kept hiking for another forty-five minutes or so. Then the trail started to top out. I saw a water tank, and a paved road that I knew had to be East Camino Cielo. So this had to be the Romero Saddle. A couple of friendly women who were on the trail with me split off and took a trail that led off to the east. They said they were going to Blue Canyon Pass, but I think that trail would have taken them to Escondido Canyon. The trail I was on split. The right fork looked like it went off into an overgrown mess that might lead you to Blue Canyon Camp, but I'm not sure. I took the left fork that just went up a few hundred yards more to a peak. From the 192 I had climbed about 3000 feet. I took in the 360 degree view, snapped a few pictures, then started back down the trail.
I stopped at the junction again and ate lunch. Then I continued on down the canyon. Then back down the road. It was a little funny to me sitting there waiting for the bus to pick me up as Ferrari’s and Porsche’s and some really nice custom motorcycles passed by. I got back to the transit center on time, but had to wait some more because the Vista bus was 50 minutes late. So if you live in Santa Barbara it should be a pretty simple bus ride to Romero Canyon Rd, give it try some time. I'm sure the folks there will appreciate any increase in foot traffic in their neighborhood.