Monday, May 21, 2007

Hiking Ventura County #17: Santa Rosa Trail

On Sunday I hiked the Santa Rosa trail. This trail starts in Wildwood Park where I had hiked previously (See here). The day was overcast and a little foggy. I hoped it would clear out but it really didn't. There were quite a few people at the trailhead but most of them were hiking the other trails in the park which suited me just fine.

This hike could be split into three segments. The first third of the Santa Rosa Trail climbs the Mountclef Ridge. On the trail up I did a couple Geocaches ("
Indian Winter" and "Boulder Gate"). There were four more nearby but I thought they were on another trail so I proceeded in making my way up the ridge.

The trail switchbacks up the ridge. The ridge is covered in cacti that were all budding. Some of the buds were starting to open so I suspect the hillside will be lit up in Yellow, Amber, and Orange cacti blossoms soon. There were a lot more wildflowers on this trail then on others I've been on lately. It must be the mist and fog we've been having - keeping things moist.

At the top of the ridge I checked the GPS and realized that the four caches that I thought were on another trail were actually on the ridge line. The trail turned right but the caches were to the left so to the left I went. The caches ("Rabbit Racers", "Wildwood Minarets Travel bug Resort", "One To Go", and "Voce Dorata") took me further out on the ridge. The further out on the ridge I went, the narrower the ridge got until the trail became hard to follow and I had to start scrambling. Fortunately I had modified my walking stick last week, adding a lanyard to the end. I had drilled a hole in the end of the walking staff and attached a cord from a digital compass I had. This cord allowed me to hang the staff from my wrist freeing up my hand while climbing. Worked great.

The last cache was at the end of the ridge. In the cache I found the
Jerry Garcia Lives Travel Bug. I exchanged that for the POW-MIA geocoin that I had. The views from the cache site were awesome even if the fog obscured the view of the lowlands on either side of the ridge. I enjoyed the views of Wildwood Park while I rested.

The way back to the main trail was more difficult. It was harder to see where the trail went and I had to backtrack a few times. On one attempt to scramble up some rocks, I slipped, smacking the scab from the Alpine Slide injury, and bloodying my weenus (Hey Hey! keep it clean. The weenus is the loose skin at the end of your elbow). I had a new first aid kit with me on this hike but my injury wasn't worth a bandage or anything.


The second third of the trail headed toward the Cal Lutheran University campus. After my detour to the ridge, I returned to the trail and came to another decision point - east trail or south trail. I chose south - the wrong decision because there were four caches on the east trail. The south trail eventually met back up with the east trail and I decided to backtrack on the east trail to do the caches. I ended up dropping the Jerry Garcia Lives TB in another cache ("
Planet Wildwood") trading it for the T.V. Balloon geocoin. I also did "Santa Rosa Trail Spur", "Full Moon Buck", and "Things Are Not What They Seem". At this last cache I was attacked by ticks, finding three on me while I was examining the cache.
The last third of the hike goes through residential areas. This was the least satisfying part of the hike. I left the Santa Rosa Trail when it reached the Cal Lutheran Campus. From there I took the residential streets back to the trailhead. The sun started to peek out of the clouds just in time to shine on the picturesque asphalt.

This hike had a few firsts - I had my newly modified walking stick lanyard (a success), I had a 2 liter
camelbak instead of bottles (felt good but it's hard to tell how much water you have left), I carried a first aid kit (didn't use it but it felt good knowing I had it if I needed it) and I had a mesh drawstring bag to carry out trash I found on the ridge (I still need to figure out how to attach it so it doesn't bounce around while I walk - mixed success).

The first third made the hike worth it. The whole hike was 7.26 miles and the elevation gain was about 480 ft. Pictures, as usual, are here.

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