Monday, February 22, 2010

02-20-2010 Agua Blanca Creek

This week we wanted to get out and see something new. If you look at the Dough Flat area on the topographic map from the USGS (Devil's Heart Peak Quad) there have a bunch of waterfalls listed. We decided that with the recent rains that this would be a good time to go and look for some of those waterfalls. We found out that the drive from the bottom of Goodenough Road to the Dough Flat trailhead is about half an hour long (just thirteen to the Tar Creek trailhead). There was a nice fifteen foot waterfall just before we got to Dough Flat.

It had been raining just a few hours before we arrived, but the ground wasn't unreasonably muddy. There is a little makeshift creekside camp just before Squaw Flat. We went off the main trail and followed a hunters trail east toward some of those waterfalls. The falls weren't that notable, but while we back there we found a toppled over oil drilling rig that has been long abandoned.

One thing I learned after this hike is that the term "squaw" is considered by some native american groups to be derogitory:

After that diversion we got back on the main trail and made our way towards Bucksnort Spring. This is a pretty cool little spot. There is a small fire pit that had not been used in ages. And Bucksnort was flowing. We took a little time to try and get to the springhead but gave up after a few minutes.

We then started towards our next destination, Ant Camp. Ant Camp is located right where Agua Blanca Creek starts turning east toward Lake Piru and about six miles from the Dough Flat trailhead. The hike there from Bucksnort is pretty straightforward. It's just when the trail starts to descend towards Agua Blanca you realize that it's going be long hike back up.

Ant Camp was a pleasant surprise. It's nestled underneath an big old oak tree in a large valley with other smaller oaks. There's fire pit, picnic table, bbq grill, a couple of ancient bed frames, and even some horse-shoes and pins should you feel like playing a game.

While we sitting there catching our breath a bi-plane came racing up the creek from the east, looped around us a few hundred feet up and then went racing back down towards Piru. It was about 11:30 at this point and our last goal (besides getting out in one piece) was to find Saddle Skirt camp. According to the map it's supposed to be about a mile up Agua Blanca Creek from Ant Camp. The first thing I noticed about Agua Blanca is that the rocks start to change from sandstone to granite. Granite is much slicker then sandstone when it's wet so you really have to watch you footing. There are bits of trail going up-creek, but for the most part it's very much overgrown. As for Saddle Skirt camp, well we couldn't find it. When we got to the spot where it was shown the map there was nothing but a weird hole in the ground. We went searching even further up-creek to where Franks GPS indicated the camp was, but had no luck there either. It was 1:00pm at that point, which meant it was time to turn around a head back to the Jeep. We stopped briefly at Ant camp one more time to refill our water bottles and change our socks then we marched up and out of there. Four hours later we were back at the trailhead. The hike was about thirteen miles round trip.

One after thought here, if you are thinking about doing this hike I would suggest trekking poles. I forgot mine and really wish I had brought them. Take care.

Monday, February 15, 2010

02-13-2010 Tar Creek

Tar Creek is a hike we have done many times before. However, each time you go you can't help but be impressed by it's scale and power. This hike was no different. With the recent heavy rains we knew Tar Creek would be really flowing. An oil spill had closed the road to the trail-head for a couple weeks, but the gate was now opened for all. We were happy have to along Franks' childhood friend Erin for the days adventure. Once we got down the first hill we could that the creek was moving a lot of water. The cascades were pretty much overwhelmed by rushing water.

Our normal route was flooded so we had to take a slightly more risky way around the bottom pool of the cascades.

We made to the bottom falls without to much trouble, but just having all that water raging right next to you can make second guess yourself in places you normally wouldn't. The final falls were going off to a degree I have not witnessed before.

If you look closely you can see Erin standing at the top of the falls.

Speaking of degrees, I took a reading with my digital thermometer and the water temperature was a cool 45 degrees. We had lunch, took a lot of pictures. We didn't see any condors this time. Some jerk left his beer can behind. It really angers me to find trash down there. The condors have a thing about eating shiny things. Any trash like candy wrappers or aluminum can tabs or even coins and glass can end up be eating by a condor and as a result kill them. Leaving your trash behind is an asshole move anywhere. Leaving your trash behind in the Condor Sanctuary is completely unacceptable to me. The hike up and out was pretty standard. All in all it was a great hike that I think all three of us enjoyed quite a bit.

Monday, February 8, 2010

02-07-2010 Matilija Dam

This week we decided it would be best to take it easy, having just recovered from a bug that's been going around. That and the rain. My friend Don had been up to Matilija Dam after the last batch of rain, and was impressed by the amount of water flowing, so we thought we drive up to Ojai and take a look at it too.

The flood plain upcreek from the Dam is named Deserpa Flat. I can't confirm it, but I'm going to guess it was named after some settlers from the east named DeSerpa. It looks like at least some of the family still lives in Ojai.

The Dam itself was built in 1947. It was condemed just seventeen years later. Here's a timeline

Here's an old postcard dipicting the area before the dam was erected.

Hopefully someday we'll all be able to sit on Overhang rock again.

Matilija Dam Facts

Location: 15.6 miles from the ocean
Owner: Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD)
Date Constructed: 1947
Purpose: Water supply and flood control
Preconstruction estimated cost: $682,000
Actual total dam cost: ~$4 million
Constructed height: 198 feet (1,125 elevation)
Current height: 168 feet (1,095 elevation) (notched in 1965, 1977)
Width: 620 feet
Thickness: 8 feet at crest, 35 feet at base
Reservoir Capacity: Design: 7,018 acre feet
Reservoir Capacity: After notching: 3,800 acre feet (excluding sedimentation losses)
Reservoir Capacity: Current: Less than 500 acre feet (combined notching & sedimentation losses)
Reservoir Capacity: Projected: Zero capacity by 2020
Original Reservoir Area: 126.8 acres
Drainage area above dam site: 55 square miles
Original Spillway Capacity: 60,000 cubic feet per second at water elevation 1,137 feet

The walk is short, just a few minutes from the road and you're there. There are some old buildings on the spill side of the dam you can check out. There is also a road, which I assume leads down to the Matilija Hot Springs.

Here's an old picture of the Dam for reference. I don't know the date it was taken, sorry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

01-30-2010 Rose Valley Falls

We took it easy this week. Frank and I and prospective member Heidi headed up to Rose Valley to check out how the recent rains had affected the waterfalls up there. First we took a short walk up Lion Canyon. The creek was really flowing, and the water was crystal clear. But, we really wanted to see the Rose Valley Falls. The Rose Valley Campground was full of people cooking food and trying to stay warm. The trail to the Falls had quite a few family's on it as well. And the Falls themselves were impressive. The lower falls are about 90 feet high, I'd guess, and the upper falls are probably 200 feet. The water was flowing at an easy pace.

I'm not sure if there's a trail that will take you all the way to the top of the upper falls. We didn't spend to much time trying ti find one. You might be able to get there from the Nordoff Ridge 4x4 trail. If anybody knows, let me know, either by email or just leave a comment below.

I guess I posted this a little late, and it looks like it's going to end up in the February posts, oh well.

Lion Canyon

Lower Rose Valley Falls

Upper Rose Valley Falls