Lazy Sunday: The Pines

“In the Pines, in the Pines, where the sun don’t ever shine … “

Late last year my buddy Derek over at 100 Peaks guest-blogged a piece for Sport Chalet about getting kids interested in the outdoors. Obviously that’s not really an issue for Clan Carey, but it did make me ponder my own approach and decide it was time to up Little Man’s mileage.

The Sunday we’d chosen to rendez-vous with another crew of LPNFanatics and (finally) scout one of the Four Horsemen was a forecast of ice and misery. Perfect conditions of course, but Caltrans decided otherwise and shut down our access routes. Naturally I should have expected this; a disproportionate number of trips these past few months have gone to Plan B (and often C).

Plan B this day was a half-day mosey up Horn Canyon to The Pines — a classic lazy Sunday. And so a rag-tag crew consisting of Bardlero Primero (Patron Saint of the 20W15), Cubmaster, Little Man, the uber-hund, and myself made for the Thacher parking area that crisp morning.

The Little Man had been to Horn Canyon a handful of times already, but never beyond the fourth crossing. That was about to change.

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Taking Point. Image courtesy and © Bardlero Primero.

We put Little Man (later given the trail name Trailmaster Jack by Bardlero) on point, and enjoyed a steady pace up that cold canyon. Frost and unseasonably dry crossings were the order of the day, and only upon hitting some patches of sun on the exposed upper stretches did we peel off any layers. It was a genuinely chilly ascent.

Bardlero and Little Man, Fourth Crossing.


It was a busy day on the trail; dayhikers and backpackers and birders and we exchanged greetings at various points. With the uber-hund ever at his heels, the Little Man pressed on, stopping only for water breaks or to greet dogs along the trail (he’s a dog magnet, what can I say).



When we finally reached The Pines, that lovely copse of Coulter pines that was the brainchild of Jacinto Reyes and in recent years has become the ward of Thacher students, the sky quickly darkened and temps took a precipitous drop. I already had the kettle on for tea and we were enjoying a repast of sardines and cheese (and yes, some single malt) on the great benches fashioned in recent seasons by USFS fire crews, but Little Man felt a fire was in order.


Now, I have no shame in stating my Girl Scouts (aka the Lady Mountaineers of Troop 201) are primo fire-builders, so much so they trained other Girl Scout units at a recent skills day. They rule. But apparently one of the benefits of not only being a Cub Scout under my direction but also of getting dragged along on a few Girl Scout excursions here and there is that Little Man has more skills and better lungs than I gave him credit.

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Watch and Learn. Image courtesy and © Bardlero Primero.

Tinder, kindling, and fuel wood were collected in mere minutes and soon we four were all appreciating the mini mountain man’s warming fire. A proud moment for me; I won’t pretend otherwise.

Rogue's Gallery

It was a lazy hour (or two) spent in that perfect little corner of the Los Padres. In the “down in the weeds” angle I’m sure you’ve come to expect from entries on this site, I am happy to report Bardlero found the chimney to an old ice can stove, and that we headed further up-trail to pick around at the junction of the old 22W40 route (more on that later).

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How to Embarrass a 7-year Old in Three Easy Steps. Image courtesy and © Bardlero Primero.


In D’s guest blog, one of the points he makes is that a parent should “create a positive outdoor experience” for the wee hikers. Cubmaster and Bardlero were my partners in crime on this one, and I think this was a defining trip for Little Man-cum-Trailmaster Jack … so my thanks to them for helping my boy along that path, both figuratively and literally.

Get ’em out there!


3 responses to “Lazy Sunday: The Pines”

  1. Cathleen Park Avatar
    Cathleen Park

    Great piece. I’m looking for fellow hikers to meet up with who have children. I have a little Dust-mite. Do you have any suggestions? We live in Santa Maria/ Orcutt area.


  2. Awesome Craig. Glad to see you pushing Jack a little and him rising up to (more than) meet the challenge. I can only imagine how proud you must be of him. Growing up at the beach, parents and lifeguards always talked about “ocean proofing” their kids (eg, teaching them how to be safe in and around the waves/ocean). I guess we could say you’ve been “wilderness proofing” your scouts. Learning how to quickly get a fire going is a useful skill, especially on a cold, winter day.

    Too bad we missed you on Sunday, I could’ve gone for a brief stopover at the campfire for a little warmth and single malt. It was chilly up there Sunday afternoon… up along the top we were socked in to thick fog with a cold icy wind blowing through. J’s thermometer read 35*F. A couple of inches of snow up top too.


  3. My dad dragged me up to the Pines as a requirement for my Second Class scouting rank in the summer heat back in ’66, and memories after the Pines Death March (my father prodded me along with tales of the Bataan Death March as he was a veteran of WWII) of the cold refreshing Tab I drank down afterwards. I remember saying to myself, “yeah dad, you may think this hiking stuff is great, but I will never, EVER do it again.” Well, guess what–I kept at it until I loved it and then ended up torturing my own son, until he couldn’t live without it. So Carey is on the right track with Little Man–don’t let ’em ask “if” only “when.”

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