May 13, 2016
The first thing I did upon arriving at the Nira Trailhead was drop my keys into the abyss of my bumper. Dang I didn’t mean to throw them that far back and I had to spend 15 precious minutes of daylight crawling around under my car trying to dislodge them. Once the keys were securely hidden, but not too hidden I walked East away from the setting sun and into the forest.
Long Shadows. And here I thought I was hiking alone!
San Rafael Peak in the far far distance
Having hiked this trail 4 weeks ago I was amazed at how brown the grasses have turned and faded the wildflowers have become. The shadows were long as I hiked down the golden sunlit trail at 6:15 pm. I saw the trail in a new way and that made me smile. I arrived Fish Camp a few miles down the trail at 7:45. I was able to start a fire and set up camp as the last rays of light disappeared from the sky. I cannot think of a more relaxing way to begin the weekend.
Fish Camp in the early morning
Saturday May 14, 2016
I slept with the rainfly off my pea pod and my sleeping bag was wet ..guess there was a lot of moisture in the air. As I hiked further up the canyon towards the narrows I was treated to hillsides full of blooming wildflowers. It’s always hard for me to remember all their names but I enjoy them just the same.
This looks like hummingbird sage.
I love the yellow against the green sage
This was my favorite spot on the whole trail. Just love all the flowers on both sides of the trail.
I had lunch at Alcove Falls and camp. No water! Boo because I was thinking of staying here and exploring the rock formations and maybe just maybe stumble upon some rock art that I know is here, just not where!
Alcove Camp. The tree is growing right into and around the rock.
This is either an Indian Grinding Hole or a hole in the rock with water!
Onward I trudged hoping I would make it to South Fork where the Sisquoc River enters the canyon. But really I knew I wouldn’t make it, especially since I have not been feeling well the past week and spent several days on the couch.
It was pretty hot and there wasn’t much water and I kept debating about turning around. But the rocks and flowers kept beckoning to me and I was enjoying myself and that’s the purpose of coming out here in the first place.
The trail goes right through that tall grass. FUN TIMES!
The trail is completely overgrown.
The trail was hard to follow and in many places it was completely overgrown with grass. The reddish color bent and swooped over the trail creating a beautiful sight which I imagine I would have enjoyed more if I wasn’t so freaked out by stepping on a snake. Finally I emerged from the grass and found myself walking down white slabs and rocky slopes dotted with wildflowers.
Now that is a trail I can actually see!
And that’s when I saw, no correction heard the rattlesnake. Right there on the hillside in striking pose. I backed up wondering if I was going to step on another snake. I maintained “freak out position” totally still, holding my breath and heart pounding while I counted 45 seconds of rattling. Eeeek! I gingerly took one small step forward and the rattle went off again….”freak out position” one full minute this time. This went on for about 5 minutes while I kept thinking;”ok… if I get bit I have to fire off an emergency spot and start walking slowly, slowly, slowly back to the trailhead. This will keep the venom from rapidly spreading. How does one walk slowly for 10 miles in the hot sun with a snake bite” Finally the snake crossed the trail and secured itself under a bush just within striking range. It kept rattling as I ran past it. I would rather be face to face with a bear and my multitool than to see or hear a snake. And I might just get that opportunity….. because shorty after the snake encounter I saw a rather large paw print. I was too freaked out by the snake to take a picture of the paw print.
I decided to stay at White Ledge rather than go the 2.6 miles down the overgrown grassy trail to South Fork. The Susquoc isn’t going anywhere….I think. While I was filtering water I heard gun shots but convinced myself it was something else….I’m pretty sure you cannot hunt back here. Then I heard voices and gunshots and soon I saw two men dressed in full camouflage emerge from the Hurricane Deck Trail, two rifles in hand. Hmmm rattlesnake, bear and multitool or people carrying rifles? I’ll take the bear…. Oh, but maybe they can kill the rattlesnake? They didn’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Spanish so together we worked out that they wanted to go to South Fork….I sent them on their way. But 15 minutes later they were back saying the trail disappeared. True the trail does disappear and then it reappears again and again for the first mile. I know this because I started to hike down to South Fork and then changed my mind. They just hiked 18 miles across Hurricane Deck where there is hardly a trail so I found it odd that they couldn’t find the trail to South Fork.
I showed them the map and helped them find the other trail back to Nira and soon I heard the echo of their rifle shots up canyon.
I ate my crazy good spaghetti, had a small fire and called it a day!
Inside the Pea Pod at White Ledge.
White Ledge rock formations. Very cool.
Sunday May 15, 2016
Up early drinking coffee, listening to the birds and frogs wondering what excitement would be had today. I enjoyed the first part of the hike up through the twisting overgrown drainage….it’s amazing how much life is supported in a small amount of water. I loved listening to all the different sounds the water made as it forced its way down canyon.
The trail went back and
Forth on each side and up through the middle of the water. It was hard to find.
The big excitement came when I happened upon a matted down side trail leading to some rocks. Off I went exploring and soon discovered a metal box with a label: “Chumash archeological site.” Inside was a registry and a pamphlet describing the origins of rock art. Aha! I scampered all over the rock looking, looking, looking for the rock art but just couldn’t see it. Twenty minutes later I was still telling myself, ” it’s gotta be here somewhere.” As I was about to walk away, feeling both defeated and disappointed I spotted the faint images. I must have been staring right at it without seeing it!
This one is my favorite. Likely because it is the way I draw people.
The best way to discover something is by finding it on your own.
Manzana Narrows was empty when I got there and I immediately stripped and dipped into the pool. The water was so cold and I was so overheated that it felt perfect. I had a leisurely lunch that included a nap on the picnic table.
The BEST ever!!!
was feeling hot worn out and exhausted and after a nice rest I decided to go a few more miles to Rays Camp, this would make for a shorter hike out in the morning. When I got to Rays Camp I tried to send my SPOT all ok message but I could not get the button to turn on. I had been having trouble with it all weekend and finally it seemed to stop working altogether. I kept trying every few hours, thinking that people would be worried about me if they didn’t hear from me. Little did I know that the message was sending but the light on the SPOT was not blinking….so I ended up sending 5 messages in the space or 4 hours…….this caused Les to wonder if I was trying to tell her something in morse code. ( we never went over, “What to do if you get 5 SPOT messages in a row.) Gotta fix that before the big summer trip.
Rays Camp. Love the Pea Pod.
I hiked the 5 miles back to the trailhead arriving at my car at 10 am. A short drive back to SB had me eating a delicious turkey burger for lunch.
Another successful trip.
(this photo was taken on the last day of my 2011 JMT hike….after 230 miles I just wanted to REST!)