Monday, February 19, 2007

Hiking Ventura County #4: Murietta Canyon Trail

So it was Saturday after our 10+ hours in the car. The Santa Ana winds were blowing and the temperature was going to be in the mid-80s. I didn't feel like doing anything but I figured if I sat around I would not be happy with myself so I drug myself out of the house and drove up to the Matilija Canyon to do a hike.

The heat was not as bad as I expected - the warm breeze actually felt cool and refreshing.
I actually had everything I needed today - hat, water, bug spray, walking stick - I think I finally have this hiking thing figured out. There are a couple of hiking trails starting from the Matilija Canyon Ranch Wildlife Refuge. One is the Matilija Trail which I have done part of twice before. The entire trail is around 10 miles - too much for me (I do plan to do a long portion of it in sometime this year after I've built up my hiking range). The second trail is the Murietta Trail.

The Murietta Trail is about 3.6 miles long and takes you along the Murietta Creek. There were no Geocaches on this trail - strange since there are at least nine on the Matilija Trail. The trail, creek, and the camp located along the trail is named after Joaquin Murietta who was, or may have been, a Mexican Bandit who may have used the valley as a hideout. There apparently are many tall tails about Joaquin Murietta and no one really knows the whole truth.

There were several cars at the trailhead but nobody on the Murietta Trail. I guess everyone was on the Matilija Trail. This was fine with me since I like to be alone when I hike. The purpose of hiking, for me, is exercise and tranquility - the trail furnishes the exercise and the lack of people, the tranquility. The trail crosses a couple of creeks several times. One of the great pleasures in life is hiking along running water. The gurgling flow of the water is one of the most relaxing sounds I know. The only disadvantage of water near trails are the swarms of insects that tend to be in the area. I swatted my way to the Murietta camp. I still felt pretty good so I kept on going.

The trail came out to a road. I could either turn left which would have taken me to Murietta Divide (I did not know this at the time - I found out after I got home), turn right and follow the road back to the trailhead, or turn around and follow the trail back. I usually like to do loops if I can but this time, the trail appeared more interesting than the road so, after I had rested, I turned around and headed back down the trail . I stopped at a particularly interesting creek crossing and sat in the shade listening to the water. Water Striders were flitting across the surface where the water pooled. The gnats didn't bother me here for some reason. It was very relaxing and darn near perfect.

I made my way back to the car. The ranch had some peacocks in a pen but they were too far away to get a picture. There are a lot of Peacock's in the Ojai, CA area. I scritched a pug's back - She seem to enjoy it - before I loaded my gear into the trunk of my car and headed home. Here are a few pictures.

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