“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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.