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Santa Barbara Hikes

Photos from Mission Pine Springs

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The view on the road out to McKinley Springs.
There's Hurricane Deck. It's the medium brown mountain in the middle.
Here's the Manzana Narrows gorge. The camp is still in the dark.
A meadow along the road.
Approaching Hell's Half Acre, which is an interesting hill of rounded sandstone.
Hell's Half Acre.
Hell's Half Acre.
Hole in the rock.
Tony looking at hole in the rock.
The biggest, most heavy-duty forest service sign nobody ever sees. The trail to Big Cone Spruce isn't used much, but they sure do let you know that it's there.
The spring at McKinley Springs. Not too picturesque, but up here, when you need water it is reliable and that's what's important.
Looking toward Santa Barbara on McKinley Saddle.
Now we are on the trail to Mission Pine Springs. We stopped at a view spot to see Hurricane Deck looking so small.
Tony taking a break.
Snow on the trail. It was very cold up here on the North-facing slopes.
Another view of Hurricane Deck.
Suddenly, the trail changes and we aren't in chaparral anymore. Instead we are in beautiful pine forests. It seems almost like the Sierra Nevada.
These pine cones seemed big. Later I saw even bigger ones. Huge ones.

We arrived at Mission Pine Springs to a couple of really nice guys who offered us cold beer. It was very cold and very refreshing.

They had brought about 64 cans of beer and were trying to get rid of it. Much to our dismay, since we ended up carrying 3 cans with us for a day. I carried two of them. My pack was already overloaded so this was a problem.

Since the guys were in the campsite, we stayed at this spot on the ridge. It was nice up here because we were still in sun and could rest and dry our socks.
There's our campsite.
We could also see the sunset from our campsite.
Our campsite.
I know, I know. Bad. But the fire pit was already there so we used it.
The view as the sun was going down.
Pretty pines.
Here's the sun rise the next morning.
Sunrise.
Sunrise over the Channel Islands. That's the ocean and Santa Cruz Island.
Sunrise.
Sunrise.
These clouds concerned us a bit. But we decided to continue. I don't carry rain gear because it is too heavy and you just end up wet on the inside anyway. All we had for rain gear was our tent. We figured if it did rain we'd put it up and get inside until it was over. It didn't rain.
Those guys who gave us the beer were able to get so much of it up there because of these horses and mules.
Now we're heading toward Mission Pine Basin. There are lots of these interesting rounded boulders along the way.
There's Tony.
Jumble of boulders.
The view looking toward Big Pine.
We found some bear bones. We saw lots of bear scat and even a real bear later on. That was my first time seeing a real bear in our area. He was very healthy and shiny, but he dove into a bush faster than I could even get a real good look, let alone take a picture.
Only part of the skull remained.
Some deer on the trail.
Big Pine Mountain.
Lots of pine trees.
Tony hiking in the meadow at Mission Pine Basin. I guess Mission Pine is named because that's where they got the pine to build the mission. How did they get it out of here?
I think these next few are a panorama.

Well, we had intended to take the Fall Canyon trail down to the Sisquoc and then take a look at Rattlesnake Falls. We were unable to find the trail, though. At one point, we were right on the trail according to the GPS, but there wasn't a trail to be seen.

So, we sat at the junction of Mission Pine trail, Santa Cruz trail and the trail to Big Pine and decided that we could make a loop if we went down the Santa Cruz trail. So we headed down to Flores Flat.

We lost a hell of a lot of altitude. Mission Pine Basin was at 5440ft, and Flores Flat is at 2425ft. All in all, the entire day saw a loss of 3540ft. from Mission Pine Spring.

These leaves are in the creek when we finally got to the bottom of the canyon.

Here's the sign just past Coche camp. We stood it back up, but it's likely it'll fall down again.
The valley was very nice and lush.
As we approached Flores Flat we could see where we camped last night at Mission Pine Springs.
Here's Flores Flat.
Here's Tony setting up the tent.
The next morning we began our climb back up to McKinley Saddle, which is at 5775ft. It was going to be a long haul from 2425ft. This is Roma Potrero, at 2881ft.
Roma Potrero.
Looking back up toward the way we just came.
We thought about going to Little Pine Mountain and calling someone to come get us at Upper Oso, rather than climb this huge mountain, but we decided not to wimp out.
Here's our trail sign pointing the way. 9 miles. How hard could that be?
Roma Potrero.
Looking uphill at the start of our big climb.
Dead yucca stalks at Roma Potrero.
Looking toward Little Pine Mountain.
Tony climbing. The whole way was like this and much much worse.
You can see our trail going up from the bottom left to the right edge of the highest peak on the right.
Big cat print.
Tony is way down there, and in the distance is Roma Potrero. Tony started cutting this trail but soon gave up. The trail is pretty bad in some places, especially near the top.
The view looking toward Big Pine Mountain. We had descended into that river valley the night before.
Once again we are back in the pines.
Here's some bear scat.

Drying my sore, tired feet above Santa Cruz Peak.

Just past this spot we bumped into some mountain bikers who had ridden out to McKinley Saddle and now were hiking out to Santa Cruz Peak. We worried about them. They had wanted to climb all three peaks—Santa Cruz, McKinley and San Rafael, but when we saw them it was already 2pm and they hadn't gotten to their first peak yet.

We heard them come into our camp at McKinley Springs at 9pm to get water on a frigid, blustery, moonless night. I can't imagine them hiking all that way in the dark and then riding back on bicycles.

Bear prints.
Lake Cachuma. Seeing so many things so close to home was the thing that struck me on this trip. We could see the ocean and islands, the Cold Springs Arch, Lake Cachuma, even the golf course and highway 154. The San Rafael is such a tiny wilderness.

Tony in the tent at McKinley Springs.

I can't tell you the feeling I had when I finally saw the sign at the top of the saddle. We had climbed so far, straight up all day long. I was so tired and sore, and the last bit of trail seemed so difficult. Every footstep stumbled on a rock or a bush. I never thought I would make it.

As I approached the top my plan was to park my butt in the sun on the saddle and sit there until there wasn't any sun anymore.

No sooner did I sit down when the sun started to go, so I hurried and tore off my clothes and put on dry clothes. I was afraid I'd die of hypothermia. Poor Tony waited too long to change and was shivering. We got a fire going and he drank hot chocoloate and fortuntately the shivering stopped.

It's weird to think that sometimes what stands between you and death is a warm hat and dry clothes.

Frigid sunrise at McKinley Springs. This is all the view you get in that spot. It's a horrible campsite in my opinion. If you look over the side you can see lots of trash. Stuff blows off the side and it's impossible to get down there to retrieve it. Tony fell off the side and could barely get back out again. It's always cold there, colder than anywhere else nearby. And you get a fire pit out in the open with no shelter, so it's a very cold fire.
Here's Tony looking at the view as we are returning on McKinley road. The road follows the ridge in the view he's looking at.
Smile!

Ridges all the way to the ocean.

That's the end of my trip pictures.