Friday, September 14, 2012

09-09-2012 Piedra Blanca

Or you could call this a day filled with questionable judgement. A lot of the hikes on this blog would have never been done if I used “good” judgment.  Sometimes you think yourself, “this is going to be miserable with a chance of downright awful.”  But you go out there anyway and you give it go.

The Wild and Scenic Sespe River
I knew it was going to be hot this weekend. I knew it would be really hot up in Ojai. But my buddy from Australia was back in the US for a visit. He had asked if I was up for a hike. I couldn’t let an opportunity to rub New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup victory in the face of an Aussie.  If you know an Aussie go ahead and remind them right now, I’ll wait.

Okay, so I had to think of a hike that wouldn’t be total madness. That means there needed to be water. Hmm, not too many places left with water right now. There’s Matilija, but it takes two hours to get to the waterfalls, and that first hour before you get to the creek is pretty miserable. And there's that silly access issue. I thought Piedra Blanca might be nice. Australia would get to see the Piedra Blanca rock formation. It’s no Uluru, but we try.  Then we could head up to PB Camp and check out the rock art on the boulder there. I had a pretty good feeling that PB Creek would be flowing and that we could cool off there and refill our water bottles. 

Looking towards the Piedra Blanca rock formation with Pine Mountain in the background

That sounded like a good idea to me. The forecast predicted 92F degree’s for the day’s high temperature. That didn’t sound good, but like I said before, I don’t always make the best decisions. 

It was already warm when we arrived at the trailhead. There were a few clouds in the distance. I was hoping those would move in and give us some relief from the sun. When we got down to the Sespe Creek crossings it was bone dry. I was really hoping that PB Creek would have water. When we got through the rock formation I still couldn’t hear the creek. Luckily those clouds had blown over and were blocking the sun as we made our way through the exposed section of the trail. Somewhere about half way to PB Camp I heard the sweet sound of cascading water coming from the creek. This was a big relief to me. 

Piedra Blanca Camp

When we pulled into camp it was empty. We went down to creek and filled up. I know of a nice swimming hole that’s near the camp so I proposed we go find it and take a dip. Australia was doing just fine and agreed. So we set off for the pool. This part required some rock hopping and bushwhacking. We ran into two guys who were coming back from the pool. It’s kinda weird when you run into someone off trail. Are they there just to hike like us, or are they checking on their pot farm? If the latter are they gonna  try to kill me? You never know out there. So I see these guys coming down and they don’t look like they are in the Mexican Mafia so I take the friendly approach and say, “Howdy."  They seemed a little surprised to see me, but I was surprised to see them too. What struck me as odd was that the only thing these guys were carrying was a giant knife. They didn’t have any water bottles or backpacks or shirts for that matter, just that big knife. They greeted me and asked if I was from Ojai. I said no, but was reluctant to tell them where I was from. I got a weird vibe from these guys, but that was it. They went their way and I continued up towards the pool.

This guy was about 8 inches long

We got to the pool just in time. I was starting to feel overheated from the effort. I couldn’t get into that water fast enough. The creek was cold and rejuvenating. Little trout swam around us as we cooled off.  Drying off was a quick process. The sun was back out and baring down on us. I wanted to get out there before peak heat set in.  Back down the creek we went. I’d dip my hat in the water to keep my head from cooking, but it would dry out after a few minutes.  When we got back to PB Camp I was overheating. I went down to the creek to fill my bottle again.  I didn’t feel that good, in fact I felt like puking. And that is what I did. I’ve never vomited while hiking before. I sprayed the ground with Fruit Punch Gatorade a few times. Then I felt better. I noticed a big front of dark clouds rolling in over Pine Mountain. Sweet, those should block out the sun right around the time we get to the exposed section. We headed out. I felt good for the rest of the hike.

When we got to the trailhead I saw four people and a dog looking at the map the FS has posted there. I walked over and asked them where they were headed. Bear Camp they told me. Then they asked me where the trail started. I could tell these folks didn’t have a clue what they were doing. They were wearing designer blue jeans and tennis shoes. Three of them had backpacks and one was just carrying a large camera. None of their bags seemed big enough to carry overnight gear. The Sespe is dry right now I told them. That didn’t seem to make them pause at all. Then I noticed camera girl had a handgun strapped to her belt. I'd rather have a bottle of water, but to each their own. I felt bad for this poor dog that these people were about to make walk five miles to Bear, but I didn’t stop them. Like I said, my decision making wasn’t exactly great today either.

It was cool to hike with Australia again. He didn't talk much shit about New Zealand this time, so I didn't give him to much guff over NZ's Championship. Hopefully someday I can visit him and post a trip report from Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment