Friday, January 11, 2008

Hiking Ventura County #41: Romero Canyon

Wow, it feels like forever since I hiked but it's only been 16 days. The first hike of 2008 was to Romero Canyon in the hills over Montecito.

I arrived just after sunrise and started up Romero road. Up is the operative word here. The path I was taking made a figure eight. The first quarter of the hike follows Romero Creek. The small creek was running quick with all the water from last weekend's rain. As the trail heads up following the creek you are accompanied by the sound of rushing water and waterfalls. Very relaxing.

After a creek crossing I left the road and followed a trail on the left that continued to follow the creek. The trail was narrow but easy to follow and continued the upward progress. I was really feeling it. I stopped to rest thinking I had hiked a couple miles and it turned out I had hiked less then a mile. I eventually found my pace, caught a second wind or something because the rest of the 9 miles didn't seem as bad as the first mile.

Eventually the trail crossed the creek one last time and takes you back to Romero road. This intersection is the crossover point for the figure eight. I crossed over the road and continued on the narrow trail that became even steeper than before.

The second quarter follows this narrow path as it switchbacks and climbs steeply up the ridge towards East Camino Cielo. The path passed through several washes that for once actually had water running in them. The glory of rain. The path reaches the top of the ridge where I admired the Santa Ynez Back Country. There was still a little snow on the mountains in the distance.

The top of the ridge, called the Romero Saddle at this point, had been cleared for a fire access/fire break at some point in the recent past and was pretty desolate. I turned left and followed the saddle to the East Camino Cielo. Turns out this is where the paved East Camino Cielo ends. I walked over to a strange looking water tank and climbed on top. The top of the tanks was much larger than the tank itself and was slightly concave - I presume to collect rainwater in the tank.

The wind was blowing a bit at the top of the ridge and, not wanting to lose my new hat I decided risking looking like an Über-Dork and used the hat's chin strap. I like the hat, by the way, and it makes my shadow look like Indiana Jones. That is if Indiana Jones was wearing a dress - I had my jacket wrapped around my waist and the shadow looks like I'm wearing a dress. Heh.

I looked around soaking in the amazingly clear views when I noticed what looked like a trail going up a nearby peak. I debated going up briefly and went looking for the trailhead up the peak. There was a temporary sign that said New Trail. I headed up the rough trail and after some huffing and puffing made up to the rocky top. The views from the top were incredible. I was able to see the sights that I missed when I did my socked in hike up Montecito Peak.

From there I could see that the trail continued to an even higher peak down the ridge. I thought about going up to that peak. Pro: It's Higher. Con: I'm Tired. Pro: I've never been there and it's Higher! Con: I'm really tired. Pro: It's just right over there and another 50 to 100 feet up. Con: You still have 7 miles to hike to get back to the car and I'm tired. The Cons won.

I sat down on a rock out of the wind and ate my sandwich and orange. I drank some water and relaxed looking at the sweeping view. You could see all the way to Boney Mountain. The only sound was the sound of the wind and the distant sound of a train whistle.

I got up, took one last look at the taller peak, and head back down. I returned to Romero road and started down. The strange thing about this hike is the distance up is only about half of the distance down. The way up was around 3.5 miles. The way down is about 6.5 miles. This is because the road does a lot of winding on its way down while the trail up was more of a straight shot. The third quarter of the hike offers views to the north and out over the ocean. The view is breathtaking.

The road itself is susceptible to rock falls as evidenced by the number of rocks on the path. Some of the rocks were pretty big. One was about the size of a small Volkswagen. I didn't think anything of it until I heard a crashing overhead and turned in time to see a couple softball size rocks rolling down the hill about 20 feet in front of me. The last thing I would want to do is stain my new hat with blood - head wounds tend to bleed a lot. I continued on warily.

The rest of the hike was downhill. The last quarter offered views into the backyards of some huge houses. One house was on top of it's own private mountain. I passed a couple of bikers but there was no one else on the trail Thursday.

I good hike and a good start to the new year. The total distance was 10 miles with 2,679 feet of vertical. A few pictures can be found here.

12 comments:

  1. I couldn't get the girl man Indiana Jones pic to open but in my head it's very amusing.

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  2. JaG: I know that the inside of your head is very amusing, but what do you think about the picture? HA! Just kidding! I'm a kidder.

    Flickr must be acting up. I've verified the link.

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  3. Good picture!

    You and GH are like twins from the waist up.

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  4. JaG: We do wear the same hat and on occasion we do leave similar comments on friend's blogs. Hmmm ... separated at birth?

    The question is, though, based on the picture, are you and I twins from the waist down? Heh!

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  5. Somehow, I think that Switzerland is ridiculously small in comparison. Where you live, you can walk for ages before encountering anyone, and over here you are lucky not to stumble upon a village every 30 minutes. I will have to fix that.

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  6. gany: It all depends on when you hike and which trail. Some trails always have people on them. Weekdays the number of people on the trail goes down. On the weekends the numbers go up. On this hike I walked about 5 hours before I saw anyone on the trail but it was a workday.

    Most of the hiking I have done over the last year was less then 50 miles from my home. I am blessed with a a lot of variety in the area.

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  7. Heh, I think everyone who owns that style of hat and hikes has, at one point or another, taken a picture of their shadow and thought to themselves "I look like Indiana Jones...aaaaaaaaaand I'm such a geek".

    Pretty hike. I've got two to write up now, I'm so behind... And if we were separated at birth, my Mom's got some 'splanin to do...

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  8. GH: Your write ups are many times better then mine. I look forward to reading them.

    I am a sucker for shadow pictures.

    The hike was really pretty - perfect weather.

    Your mother?!? What about mine!?!

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  9. Nice photos in this post.

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  10. Best Man: Thanks! The conditions were just right.

    Can't wait to have the MoH and you out here next month. It's going to be fun.

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  11. I'd probably never wear a skirt that was that full; make my hips look big.

    ;)

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