dispatches & explored

Reyes Peak, Redux

“My girl, my girl
where did you sleep last night?”

Uncharacteristically fine weather in the upper elevations of the Los Padres prompted the clan to grab a hound and some gear and head up to Pine Mountain this past Thanksgiving weekend.

With the book done and not all the trips into our backwood being those of ridiculous minutiae or brush-busting misery, I’ve been keen to get the kids out there at every practical opportunity. Simple fact: if they don’t learn to love this forest, they won’t be inclined to fight for it when it’s their time. And with temperatures barely dropping into the 30s overnight most of the week, such perfect conditions were not to be wasted!

HRH along Reyes Ridge

HRH and the monkeys had visited Pine Mountain as recently as Troop 201’s bouldering day back in July, so this wasn’t new territory. A leisurely afternoon arrival at Pine Mountain campground still gave us time aplenty to set up a comfortable camp, build a respectable fire around which to laze, and still give the wee forest explorers time enough to climb trees, explore nooks and crannies of the Picnic Area up-slope, and sit among the grasses on the western saddle and enjoy a memorable sunset.

Pine Mountain Sunset No. 1
” … and a soft wind from the sea moved through the pines.” Image courtesy Li’l G.

Hotness, Darkness, Hotness, and then more Darkness

Neighbors
Howdy, neighbors.

About the time I’d wrapped up dinner and the climbers who occupied the neighboring camps had all returned to their tables under the light of their headlamps, HRH and I broke out the marshmallows and with full bellies and warm bags, the posse sacked out for a cozy night. The trademark winds that invariably wake most Pine Mountain-area campers around 0200 made nary a peep.

Sunday morning broke cold but clear, and after their bacon and eggs the little ones headed off with Lilly to photograph woodpeckers (Li’l G) or climb as many trees as possible (Jack). In time we wrangled them into ol’ Bessie and headed for the Reyes Peak trailhead (Jack “drove” a long stretch, he will be proud to announce).

Siblings
There are two children in this photo.

Spider-Treeclimber

As none of my crew had ever topped Reyes Peak, I had decided early in this trip to remedy said failing for which I and I alone was responsible. They’ve all heard my stories, vetted the chapters in the guide, and could likely recite most of the known history of the lookout once situated thereon, but … well, let’s fix this.

"Aw ..."

Conditions were the best I’d ever seen along the use trail. Like hiking the high elevations of the Mt Pinos RD, trails here are in such good shape with so little effort, I almost feel bad for areas where the routes require constant vigilance and volunteer labor.

Baucis and Philemon
Baucis and Philemon, image courtesy Li’l G

Wayward Hound, Redux

Even with the significantly reduced mean stride length, we made good time over the seesawing trail, and soon found ourselves traversing the often lupine-filled meadow. Li’l G immediately identified the sandstone outcrop as analogous to Weathertop, and my lovely bride was sure to commend the notable lack of star thistle in the grazing area.

Mind your Step

Reyes Peak Posse

Ranger and Mrs Green, 1928
Ranger and Mrs Green atop Reyes Peak, 1928

Mr and Mrs C atop Reyes Peak
Beard and Mrs Carey atop Reyes Peak, 2012. Image courtesy Li’l G.

We enjoyed a breezy lunch amongst the lookout ruins, picked around the old campsite to the east, and generally lazed about the massif ’til it was time to lose some 7,500 feet of elevation and return to the dungeons to plot another weekend.

Little Man and Li'l G, Triumphant

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8 Responses to Reyes Peak, Redux

  1. EMW says:

    “Simple fact: if they don’t learn to love this forest, they won’t be inclined to fight for it when it’s their time.” This is one of the most philosophically wise and important statements I have read anywhere on the Internet. In the hands of a great author a simple but elegant declarative sentence can say quite a lot.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      That sentence caught my eye, as well. It is a major reason why I share my experiences on my blog and in doing so expose what I would, to some extent, prefer to keep less known.

      • craig says:

        Cheers gents. Jack, that’s something I struggle with as well. Obviously it’s easy to refrain from detailing one’s expeditions (or at least directions) to easily-accessed rock art, but it’s a finer line between keeping the best more public spots to oneself and making sure enough people know enough about them to fight for them (or at least care for them). We walk that line every time we post, I suppose.

  2. Stillman says:

    Hey guys,
    Walking the writer’s line. Yeah. The best defense for those really special spots is to keep the location out of the press. I, as you both know, have a soft spot for Tar Creek and I’ve wrestled with the amount of exposure I’ve given the place over the years. I’ve reconciled that by aknowleding that the place has been described in dozens of publications from John Sherman’s “Stone Crusade” to “Day Hikes of Ventura County”. And I don’t deign to think that my writings have all that much reach. In the end I know that I’ve never given instructions to getting there, and I believe that I’ve become a self-appointed advocate for its safekeeping. I’ll draw a map for people who want to do peaks but I’ll never plot a place like Indian Cave. But yeah, I get it.

    Ultimately our writings encourage the exploration of our local backcountry, and that’s just fine, but we do have a responsibility to impart our respect for the wilds through our writings. I think that you, me, Jack, Eric and EM have done a pretty good job of representing the values that we hope to pass on to our kids, and that we hope have influence with our readership. Besides, all of us are grown men with a lot of experience, how could we not respect a place as f’d up as the SLP?

    Red, I ran into your troop that weekend. The set up they had… man, I thought they were the USO or the friggin’ Red Cross or something!

  3. craig says:

    Well said, DS. And do you refer to this past weekend re: running into (one of) my troop(s)? There was a mad posse of climbers in the western-most camp when we were there; something like 7 or 8 vehicles parked there. But I only had a crew of four for this last go-’round.

  4. Stillman says:

    Nope, this was back in July. They had enough hot dogs to wrap around the moon.

    • craig says:

      Ha! That must have been a different crew, but I do admire their hot dog cache. My girls are actually huge fans on Mountain House’s lasagna with meat sauce for their camp meal; they’ve gone through a lot of it since our Santa Rosa Island trip.

  5. Stillman says:

    There’s no accounting for what kids like to eat.

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