Friday, February 23, 2018 
February 7, 2018
Kennedy Ridge Trail
Up to the 1st Picnic Trail Using Rice Canyon

We started off this day knowing it would be a challenge because we know this trail well, what to expect at each hairpin turn, the views and valleys, the beautiful manzanita that we loved.  Now we can see the whole trail above us, the sinuous curves such a contrast to the dark slopes on each side, winding up the side ridge leading up to Kennedy Ridge and the rock pile with the lone oak tree blackened at the top.  The rain, now over a month past, has encouraged the grasses and we are seeing Bush Mallow, Paeonia californica, and wild cucumber. The soil is dry and toasted a stark reminder that we are still in a drought.

The drought has been tough but this is tougher.  We truly miss the coastal and white sages, the manzanita, scrub oaks and buckwheat. The fire, so hot and encompassing in this part of the forest, burned at such a high temperature and furiously that it left white ash which indicates a fire that consumed all the organic material.  The white ash outlines look like the fallen tree trunks.  Black ash indicates a fire where the heat was insufficient to completely consume the litter and other organic materials at the soil surface.  We are seeing a lot of white ash on this trek compared to other areas.  The skeleton trees will be with us for a while.


The views are still stunning and we love our valley.  We are anxious for rain and growth spurts.  The waiting is really hard!

Hiking back through Rice Canyon, past the dead lands and skeletal trees, we hear the river running and this eases our hearts.  The dogs bound into the water and life is good!

Happy Hiking,

Beth & Laura
Bodee & Lucy our Four Pawed Companions

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
January 31, 2018
Ojai Valley Land Conservancy River/Canyon Trails
Rice to Wills from the Oso Trailhead
We started this day with all intents and purposes to hike up Sesar Canyon and get the lay of the land, but after driving up to the Upper Ojai and the narrow road that takes us to the trailhead we found that the trail was closed.  The astonishing thing that stands out on Sesar Canyon road is the hopscotch nature in which the houses burned.  None of them were close to each other and when they burned it was in totality.
So when it became apparent we weren't gong to be able to hike up Sesar we decided to have a look at Rice and Wills Canyons out of the riverbed.  We braved it up and headed out!
Oak trees are survivors and we found indications of that in many places: new vibrant green leaves and new sprouts emerging from trunks.  We even observed armies of ants on the trees.
The most startling thing about a burn area is the grand expanse visible to the eye.  There are no obstacles to impede your view.  What's left of the trail is easy to find and we took a couple of side routes we always wanted to check out but were afraid of getting lost.  Ash is still everywhere and there are skeletons of manzanitas among other trees in the canyons.
We crested the top of Rice Canyon and climbed up to the top of the ridge to get the view looking back toward Ojai.  Grasses are spouting and green is nice!.
Heading down into Wills Canyon we see gems of green in the bottom of the canyon
and our hearts warm at the prospects that some oaks survived.  El Nido meadow is a contrast of life and death, black and green, the end and now a beginning.

We did not meet anyone on our journey until we reached the mouth of Wills Canyon and headed out into the old orange grove.  The Ojai Valley Land Conservancy ground crew was mulching baby oak trees that they are nurturing.
Hiking in nature strengthens us in many ways: physically, emotionally and soulfully.  We have many friends in the woods; some our lost, some our new and hopefully some will return.
Keep on trekking,
Beth & Laura
Bodee & Lucy our Four-pawed Companions