Homer's Travels: Half Way To Topatopa

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Half Way To Topatopa

My next hike will be the halfway point on my hiking list. My hiking list was based on the Ventura County Star list of hikes. I have skipped a couple of hikes that I had already done and I combined a few short easy ones to make longer, more moderate, hikes.

I have been pleasantly surprised that I have been able to keep up the one hike per week pace. I wasn’t sure I could do it when I started. It turns out I only missed one weekend due to the Altar Boy’s wedding but that was made up for by the two hikes I did one long weekend back in February.

Thinking back, the hikes that I have done all have been interesting and challenging. I can’t really rate them since my opinion of them is affected by my mood on the day of the hike and on some days a great hike can be made crappy by my mood. The few that stand out in my memory are Potrero John, Sandstone Peak, and the Grotto.

The remaining 29 hikes will be getting longer and more difficult. The vertical climbs will get tougher. The series of hikes culminates in my goal – Topatopa Bluff. This hike will be 15.6 miles round trip from Sisar Canyon up to the bluff. Elevation gain is 4,487 feet which will be a personal best once I complete it. I am looking forward to the challenge. I expect to be doing it at the end of February 2008.

There are a few things that may get in the way of my plans over the next six months. One is the need to coordinate with the wife’s schedule. Some of the longer hikes are one way hikes so you have to drop you car at one end and take another car to the trailhead. For these hikes I will have to coordinate with the wife as she will be driving me to the trailheads. Most of these one way hikes are in the 10 to 12 mile range and include Sulfur Mountain Road and the Backbone Trail (divided into five sections). I doubt this will be a big obstacle. We have discussed it an she is willing to help.

Another issue, one that is really beyond my control, is the weather. The last year has been really dry. If this winter is dry as well then I should have no problem keeping the weekly hiking schedule. If the rain returns then I expect to miss weekends due to rain. Another thing is that it snows on Topatopa Bluff. If the rains return then there may be snow in February when I do the hike. This is both fascinating and worrisome. The snow will add to the beauty of the hike but will surely add to the difficulty as well.

The last issue I foresee is health. Can I maintain the pace? I seem to be doing it with the hikes in the 8 mile range but can I maintain it when the hikes are in the 12 mile range with 1,000 – 3,000 feet vertical? This is the real challenge. How far can you push your body before you have to wave the white flag? I guess I’ll find out.


  1. Depending on the length of the trail and the heaviness of the storm, don't let rain be a deterrent to you. Often warm storms cruise through southern California, and hiking in a light rainfall can be especially refreshing.

    Of course, after hiking in the rain, I usually hit a seafood joint for a hot bowl of clam chowder. :)

  2. I hear you. I have never hiked in the rain but I imagine it would be refreshing. I used to wear glasses which made getting caught in the rain a problem. Thanks to the wonder of LASIK that isn't a problem any more.