Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sesar Canyon
To the Lookout
March 7, 2018

The Sesar Canyon trail is actually an old road that eventually meets up with the Nordhoff Ridge Road 12 winding, steep miles later.  Today we are hiking up to the Lookout which is a good uphill haul and about 3 miles one way.   We notice more burned out structures on the drive up to the Upper Ojai and how green the pastures are at Black Mountain Ranch.

Our hike begins on the road and immediately we can hear the creek running.  Our favorite Toyon bush has taken a hit and we will miss the abundance of red berries it glorified every year.

Immediately we can tell that this area had an intense burn. Rocks are blackened and some have split with the heat.  The ground is charred and looks like a charcoal kiln.  The saving grace is that the bottom of the creek bed is mostly spared at least enough to shed some green in the canyon.

We meet only four male hikers in the early morning who start every day by trekking to the second creek crossing and then head back to the Summit Burger Stand for breakfast and coffee.  Now that is the way to rock retirement and we will be doing this in the future (I'm still working :-).

The creek crossings are such a refreshment and luxury.  Bodee and Lucy can sense the running water way before we can see or hear it and they forge ahead.  Rock hopping  is a pleasure these days and I beg for the day when I can pack my water shoes in my pack again - It's been years since they had a presence in my pack because of the drought!

The trail/road is grisly and we have to be aware of troubled trees and loose scree.  We can hear the scree sliding down the slopes and it's overtaking the road.  We clamor through the debris, head up to the hairpin turn and enjoy the creek before heading up to the lookout.

Looking south we can see the Upper Ojai Valley with it's charred perimeter and looking north we can view the burned and scarred Topa Topa mountains.

We observe lupine and fennel taking hold and the oaks and sycamores are seriously trying to put out some leaves.  It's a study of perseverance in the highest regard.  Plants have strong wills and we see signs of that everywhere even in these seriously burned areas.  We respect and honor their endurance.

We will hike Sesar Canyon again shortly and see how things have changed.  Those of us who hike and have an intimacy with the wild lands have a greater understanding of what a wild fire does to an environment.   Today we reflected on life, the will to live and our own mental recovery.

Hike with Perspective,

Beth & Laura
Bodee & Luci

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
February 28, 2018
Fox Canyon Back Through Luci

Winter hit with a vengeance and it was 27 degrees when I got in the car.  We like to get to the trail head just before the sun peaks out over the mountains so we get the luminous glow of the dawn.  This makes getting up before the crack of way before dawn worthwhile for us.
The Fox Trail is not one of those luxurious trails that starts off slow with easy hiking.  Switchbacks zigzag  straight away off of Shelf Road and it's a big climb up.  We were shedding layers pretty quickly.  Fox Canyon is a lesson in fire consumption and debris flow basins.  The Thomas Fire burned through here with a vengeance leaving rocky ridges and abutments the sole survivors in it's path.  Hiking this trail backward from the Luci to Fox trail gives us new perspective.

The debris flow channels seem so ominous and we can't help feel that a moderate to large rainstorm will bring major trouble.  Everyone should be prepared for mudslides for the next few years.
We can see the Luci Trail on the opposite side of the canyon and it looks like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride as it winds up the naked ridge. 

The Wild Cucumber is growing with wild abandon and robustness.  Blue Dicks are blooming and a lovely pink flowering plant.  We are always encouraged by green.

The sun is high in the sky now and we get a view of our valley from the top.  Looking across the valley to Sulphur Mountain Road, to the hike we took last week, that was so different from our hike today.  It is hard to embrace the burn but we are trying.  We visited the "Scorched Souls" exhibit at the Ojai Museum and were very moved by the creativeness of our Ojai Studio Artists.  The Thomas Fire has affected us all in different ways; some like us lost the woods, some lost houses and some lost loved ones.  We are all grieving and trying to move forward.  We are thankful we live in a place where people care.
Hike with Thoughtfulness,
Beth & Laura
Bodee & Lucy

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Sulphur Mountain Road
From Arnaz

We have been very anxious and leery to hike Sulphur Mountain Road since we had heard about marauding wild pigs, but after conferring with a ranger at the Ojai Ranger Station we decided to give it a chance. The morning was bitterly cold and when I set out to defrost the car it was 29 degrees.
Bundled up in 3+ layers of Smartwool, gloves and warm hats we hiked up Sulphur Mountain Road to greet the dawn and hoping for a sighting of the scheduled missile launch from Vandenburg.  Time came and went for the launch with no telltale signs so we assumed it had been scrubbed. The morning was crystal clear and glorious - perfect hiking weather.
The dawn greeted us with a vibrant pink moment of our stalwart mountains.  Hiking up the road we notice that the burn was fast and not furious through here, mostly the undergrowth burned and the trees, although scorched, look vital!  We weren't hiking through blacken remains.

We are grateful for anything green: grasses, shrubs, trees it's all good.  Compared to Wills Canyon and Kennedy Ridge this area is a
blessing and we rally and rejoice at the life here.  Check out the size of these oak leaves.  

We are making really good time this morning, probably because it is so cold,  and before we know it we are past the 3 mile marker.  Looking out to the ocean we can see the Channel Islands in the distance, the view is spectacular.
Hiking past the 3 mile marker we can see the Ojai Valley and the Topa Topa mountains and you can plainly see the stark demarcations where the fire burned all around our town.  It is a sobering view.  Oak trees tower over us on one side of the road their roots an intriguing collage in the rocks.

Sulphur Mountain Road was a rewarding hike.  Next time we will make it to the top.
Hiking with Renewal,
Beth & Laura
Bodee & Luci

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Wills Canyons to Rice Canyon
February 19, 2018
We did a spur of the moment hike up Wills Canyon and down Rice in the Ojai Land Conservancy Preserve.  The wind had been blowing on and off all day and we could see ash clouds in the distance toward the Topa Topas.  It was a fresh, easy, crisp day and we enjoyed the light in the late afternoon.
We are noticing a lot more green on this trek and even though the skeleton sumac trees really stand out we acknowledge and are thankful for anything green.  Deer are grazing on the grass and we see and hear quail along the way. 
The stalwart oak trees, nothing but charred blackened limbs, are sprouting giant green leaves from their larger trunks.  And even though the green leaves are sparse we are humbled by their spirit to live.  We trek by with encouraging words and healing thoughts.
We notice an odd trail sign, somewhat melted telling us that Valley View and Shelf Road trails are one way and Fox is another, I'm thinking the Rice and Wills signs melted off this recycled sign!
The Ventura River is still running and after so many years of drought we are always thrilled to have to rock hop across it or wade as the case may be. The dogs love it too and bask in the water regardless of the wind which is a wee bit chilly.
Happy Presidents Day!
Beth & Laura
Bodee & Luci