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Santa Barbara Hikes

Photos from Sisquoc Loop Backpack, Fall 2002

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The Sisquoc Loop, November 2002.
We did this trip a few days before Thanksgiving. The weather was perfect and there was always water.

This is our route. Blue and yellow show alternating days. The night of day 2 we didn't stay at Cliff. We stayed at an unnamed little camp. We had hoped to get to Abel the second day, but were too tired to get there.
The Manzana River at Nira had plenty of water.
Looking toward "Hole in the Wall" camp in the cliffs above Manzana Narrows.
The bunch grass where it's easy to lose the trail.
I love the part of the trail before you get to the summit. That's Tony.
There's my backpack taking a rest at the summit before Happy Hunting Ground.
The funny pancake rock.
Cliffs on the way down.
More cliffs.
Water just before Happy Hunting Ground.
Red algae in the pools.
Very red algae.
Photo stop at Happy Hunting Ground. We usually stay here with the 6-legged Bear God, but decided this time to continue on to White Ledge.
Plenty of water here at White Ledge.
We had a nice fire. We were able to have a fire each night. It helped to pass the time after dinner in the darkness of late fall. It was also warm and felt good. Usually we camp in such dry places we never have a fire. We're too afraid the whole place will burst into flames. But not this time.
There's Tony the next morning in our camp at White Ledge.
Descending from White Ledge the view was beautiful. This is looking toward South Fork.
Glowing pine trees.
The trail was in good shape. There had been recent work done to it.
Junction.
Pretty sycamore leaves.
Junction at South Fork.
The sign has many editorial comments. There is considerable disagreement about the mileages.
Another junction. We spent an hour here looking for a geocache. But the geocache wasn't here, it was somewhere completely else. There was a mix-up in Tony's notes, I guess.

Then Tony lost his sunglasses somewhere in the brush while he was looking for the non-existent cache. We looked for a while but never found them.
Here's the view at the place where we were looking for caches and glasses.
More of the same.
Ok. On the road again. We took the high trail rather than the river bed.
Our luch spot at Forrester's Leap canyon. The pool here was very swimmable, but we didn't go in.
It's kind of hard to see, but our trail is way up on the side of the hill.
Looking down on this harrowing trail barely clinging to the hillside. The Forest Service could stand to learn a few things from the Nepalese who really know how to build trails along impossibly deep river gorges.
And back down to the river again.
And back up again. This pool is really really deep. You could dive from the big rock below. Maybe you could even jump from right at this spot, but I wouldn't try it!
Looking back up the river gorge.
Finally the land opens up and you get to walk through little meadows between creek crossings.
Here we are at Sycamore camp which was really lovely. We only stopped for a break.
Sycamore camp.
These ducks become your friends. This one looks like a snowman.
Even though the map says we are in the Wilderness, it's not really wilderness. There are many ruins from old settlements along the way. The valley used to be inhabited by up to 200 people who farmed along the river. Bits and pieces of their lives remain. We tried to visit all the ruins along the way, even the ones off the trail a bit.

Usually all that's left are fireplaces.
We had wanted to hike all the way to Abel the second day, but our legs gave out and we stopped here at this little campsite.

We had tried to follow the high trail as much as possible, but eventually we found ourselves following whatever animal or human had bumbled their way along the river. Soon I felt we were just following other people who had gotten lost before us, so we gave up right here at this really sweet little camp. The high trail was just above it, though, so fortunately we found the trail again the next morning.
An oak-studded hill. Seemed odd for some reason.
Some badlands in the distance.
Here we are coming around the Big Bend in the river. Somewhere around here is the Big Bend Trail.
The bend in the river.
Looking down the river at Cain. It's hard to see, but the cloud was a perfect arrow pointing right at the mountain.
Cain and the moon.
We finally reach Abel and are greeted by a rustic potty in the woods.
Abel camp.
What's going on here???
Still Abel camp. We never would have made it yesterday.
More ruins along the trail.
Tony in a meadow. I loved these meadows.
Rustic fence.
Here's Miller Camp. We stopped for just a minute.
Miller Camp.
Now the land is really open.
Another meadow.

The nice thing about this hike is that it's easy. It's very level. All the hard uphill is done on the first day. Then it's downstream the whole way to the Schoolhouse.
Funny sycamore tree.
Pretty trees.
Looking across the river to one of the meadows that the old homesteaders had lived in. Their ruins were over there, too.
We went over there to see the ruins. They were really good ones. You could still see the window frames.
Window frames at the ruins.
Big cat print.
Another meadow and some more ruins.
Ruins.
Old plow.
We took a lunch break at Mormon camp. It's a nice camp.

They called the people who lived in this area Mormon, but they weren't really Mormons. They followed some guy named Hiram Wheat who believed in curing by the laying of hands. (Why are they always named Hiram?) They practiced a strict diet, too.
A nice dudlea at Mormon camp.
Another dudlea.
Some fall leaves at Mormon camp.
This old oak had survived a big rock slide right behind it.
Cattails along the river.
Big bear print. We saw lots of these.
Water Camp. We stayed here the third (and final) night. It's a lovely camp.
Water camp.
Here's Tony at our campsite.
The view from Water the next morning. It was really cold this morning.
Same place.
We started off around 8am. It was very very cold. All my pictures seem a little blue.

More ruins along the way.
The tracks of the most feared of all the woodland creatures are from the mean little horse. We encountered the mean little horse the previous spring at the Schoolhouse. This time we only saw his tracks. We saw them all along the way between Water and Schoolhouse.
Just another pretty meadow.
Brrr. Frost.
Twisted wood in the meadow.
Here's a line of bear tracks in the sand.
No matter what time of year in Santa Barbara, something is blooming.
Spanish moss in the oaks in the meadows before the Schoolhouse.
This is looking back up the river toward the way we had come. The Sisquoc is one of California's mighty rivers that hardly has any water in it.
Junction with Hurrican Deck trail.
Up on the hilltop you can see the Schoolhouse.
Trail sign at the Schoolhouse. We stopped at the Schoolhouse to take a look at the schoolhouse, hunt for a geocache, take a "day hike" down to some more ruins, look for Bessie's grave, and take a lunch break.
The rock circle we made last spring is still here!
The john at the Schoolhouse Camp.
The Schoolhouse.
Downstream are more ruins. This is the fireplace of the Wheat homestead. It's a really nice fireplace. There is a register in that box where you can log your visit and read about the families that lived in the area. It's very interesting. Somebody should make a book if there isn't one already.
We hunted around and found Bessie's grave. Tony has a GPS and he used the coordinates off the topo, but they weren't accurate. I started looking for the grave based on the story in the register at the fireplace. It said that the grave was west of the ruins. I looked all over the west end of the meadow, and just as I was giving up and walking back I saw the grave.
Now this picture is a little spooky. It's a portait shot and so it should be longer, not square like this. How did the bottom of the picture get cut off? Did Bessie not want to show the date of her death?
There's Bald Mountain.
Ok. On the road again. Leaving Manzana Schoolhouse Camp.
Now we trudge along a dirt road. Here's Dabney Cabin.
You know, once you are about 10 miles from home you start to feel that you should just go all the way home. We had wanted to stay over night for 4 nights, but once we got to the Schoolhouse with only 7 mile to go we started to figure we ought to just go home.

We gave some thought to stopping at Cold Water Camp for our last night, but it was only about 3:30pm.

Here's Tony pumping some water for the home stretch here at Cold Water Camp.
I like the way the trail is in the wilderness. It's so different from our heavily trafficked front country trails. The trails are soft and spongy and not really level because so many different animals walk on them or burrow in them. We saw tracks of every kind of animal, from little birds and lizards to small mammals and big ones like bears and lions. Except for the road, we saw no tire marks of any kind. Lots of leaves to kick your way through.

This sort of natural solitude, this communion with the other creatures walking the paths is one of the things I seek when I hike. I want to feel like just another one of the woodland creatures who walks the paths of the forest. It's a kind of getting down to the essence of yourself, a homecoming.

I really don't feel I can find that anymore on our front country trails. I certainly hope we can maintain the primitive nature of our wilderness and not let it get swallowed up by the forces who would put more machines along these paths. The machines have overtaken Tunnel and Cold Springs and the other front country trails. Fine. They can run amok if they like, terrorize the land and the people who walk softly upon it. Just stay away from here.
The home stretch.
Walking the rick-rack. Only a mile to go.

This is the last slide.