The mountains have been calling so I headed off for a “dash” trip into the Los Padres National Forest: Destination Santa Cruz Station…. a place I last visited 39 years ago! Ouch, 39 years…..let’s see…… if I go every 39 years, I will be visiting the Station again when I’m 92! Hmmm I wonder how heavy my pack will be then?
This is also a “Field Test Trip” as I have some new gear to test before the Sierra! For this trip my pack weighed 23 pounds which included 9 pounds of water! Water is heavy. 2 liters to drink on the way there and a gallon to use while there and for the hike back if the creek was dry. The trail goes like this…..up, uP. UP for 5 miles gaining 2,770 feet in the hot, HOT HOT sun with hardly any shade. Then the trail goes down, down down and down for 5 miles, losing all that beautiful elevation I worked so hard to gain.
When I arrived at the top of the ridge the right fork went to Alexander Peak, the left to Little Pine Mountain, and the trail I was on continued right into the shade! GLORIOUS shade. I sat in the dirt, in the middle of the trail and ate my lunch. I kept looking left and right, up and down the trail, as if I were sitting in the middle of a busy intersection. I have seen three people all day…and none of them are on this trail.
After 1.5 miles of hiking in the semi shade, downhill, the trail turns sharply and comes to a place affectionately referred to as the 40 mile wall. The 40 mile wall is only 2.5 miles, but it feels like 40 miles! Even though it is downhill, it still feels like 40 miles because it is in the hot, hot, hot sun. Did I mention HOT. Did I mention HOT afternoon sun? Did I mention 40 miles? It was also pretty, and there was a slight hot breeze which kept the pesky black flies and gnats away from my face. I watched a red tail hawk swoop up and down the valley. Whenever I found even a smidgen of shade I leaned forward on my trekking poles and rested. Then off I went in search of the next smidgen of shade.
Finally I arrived at Santa Cruz Station around 3:30. I had the place to myself.
There was enough water in the creek to swell down my feet! In fact there was plenty of water in the creek and I didn’t need to carry that extra gallon of water….but I’m glad I did. I drank 2 liters of water on the hike in.
The tent is easy to set up…that is after I did all my “Test Set-Ups” and cursing at home. I’m still not sure about taking it to the Sierra, although I know plenty of people do….I’m afraid the rain is going to come in through the non bath-tub floors. Sure do like the weight though! I will have to do more test dash trips with it, oh darn!
After I swelled down my feet and putzed around with my tent I heard voices and suddenly two people and their dog were walking right through my camp knocking over my tent stakes. I told them about the bigger camp on the other side of the trees and off they crunched through the oak leaves. It’s a big forest and even though there was a site next to me, I didn’t particularly want someone camping right next to me. Apparently they had different ideas as they crunched back over the oak leaves and set up camp 20 feet away. Like I said, it is a big forest, but maybe, just not big enough. They were actually incredibly quite and I probably was more disruptive testing my new 200 lumens headlamp. WHOA that thing is BRIGHT!
My final “Field Test” of this trip was my dinner…..homemade Crazy Good Spaghetti made in my new food dehydrator. WOW, was it G O O D. I mean it was CRAZY GOOD! It was so Crazy Good that I don’t even have to change the name. MMM. Mmm. Mmmm.
Even though it was a short trip it was great to be back out in the mountains. I think those mountains are going to be calling me a lot in the next few months and of course I will be answering the call!