Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Over the Mountain....

Steve drops me off at the trailhead just out of town.
The nice thing about being at my mom's house right now--there are a lot of hiking trails very close by. Real hiking trails, that aren't crowded with hundreds of people. I don't go hiking when I'm in Seattle as much as I'd like to because of the hassle in traveling to such trails, but here in San Luis, they're even within walking distance of my mom's house. Driving across town might take 15 minutes if traffic is heavy--usually because of construction. I grew up thinking that bumper-to-bumper traffic was just an exaggeration. Sometimes, it's nice to live in a small city. =)

I'm flying back to Seattle tomorrow (if all goes well), so I figured I should make use of these convenient trails while I had the chance, and this time I set my eyes on Reservoir Canyon and a ridge that, so far as I know, has no official name but I like to call Reservoir Ridge. Because, you know, it's next to Reservoir Canyon and it slides off the tongue very well.

I've done both sides of this trail in the past, but I've never hiked between both sides before because making the complete trip, round-trip, seemed a little more ambitious than I wanted to do. That still had not changed, but this time, I asked my mom for a little help so I could turn it into a one-way hike. Drop me off at the trail head for Reservoir Canyon, and I'd walk back to the house from there. =)

The light was at a terrible angle for any
decent photos of the waterfall. There seems to
be a cave of sorts right next to it, but
the guy with the dog (just outside of the frame
of this photo) discouraged me from looking
into it.
Mom was busy--had to perm someone's hair or something--but she talked Steve into giving me a ride, and ten minutes later, I was hiking up Reservoir Canyon.

Almost right out of the trailhead there's a small waterfall. Nothing spectacular--especially compared to the waterfalls we have in the Pacific Northwest--but still a pleasant diversion. If it wasn't for the fool letting his dog run around without a leash and splashing water all over me. Thanks #*@$&.

I didn't want to loiter there anyhow. I hadn't even been hiking for two minutes yet--much too earlier for a rest.

The trail followed up the creek for a little over a mile, nearly level the entire distance. I'd done this level part years ago as part of a biology field trip years ago, and it was the one and only time I ever hiked here. It was nice, but a bit far for me to walk from home, and if I drove, there were other areas I always preferred to visit. So except for that one visit about 15 years ago, I'd never been here since.

Then the trail crossed the creek and started gaining in elevation. I was headed up Reservoir Ridge now, and into lands I had never before explored. The trail was mostly in shade--I started late in the day specifically for this reason, and was pleased to see how well I timed things. I don't really like hiking in the sun, and I knew the backside of this ridge would likely be in shade late in the afternoon. I hoped to reach the ridge top just before sunset, and be back down the other side before dark.

Ten or fifteen minutes after the trail started rising, I ran into an encampment of sorts. Not a homeless encampment, but more like an abandoned former something kind of camp. Strange heaps of delicately balance trash cans littered the area. A teepee made of corrugated metal roofing material rested on the side of the trail. It's pretty in the middle of nowhere, and I'm not even sure how all this junk got up there. There are no roads to the location--at least not now. I'm sure there's a story here, but I don't know what it is.

I just really like this tree. =)
Someone also installed a swing on a large oak tree, and I dropped my pack and pulled myself up onto it. The swing was about four or five feet off the ground so it required a bit of effort to get myself up onto it, but I did, and I rested. Content, swinging slightly side to side. =)

The sun still hovered just over the ridge top--the canyon I was climbing out of would be completely enveloped in shade soon, but it was that time--the time when even weeds seem to glow in the light of a setting sun. The time photographers like best. The time when I needed to start taking more pictures. I took a few, then tried to get a photo of me sitting in the swing--but being up on the swing, I figured a lot of the effect would be lost. A self-timer wouldn't help me here either--it took me way long than 10 seconds to work my way up the swing. At best, I'd get a good photo of my butt while trying to pull myself up onto it again. =)

So I tried to take the picture myself while sitting in the swing--click!

I looked dark in the photo--almost a silhouette in the glowing sun. I should use a flash, and I turned it on, and my camera shut down. Battery dead.

I believe this is a flower from a wild rose.


That sucks.


I thought about options. Flashlight! I still had a flashlight in my pack! Maybe it used AA batteries and I could switch things out! I looked longingly at my pack on the ground. I didn't want to get off the swing. Not yet.




This sucks.

I know--I'll listen to my iPod for awhile. It was in my pocket, and I took it out, turned it on, and tuned into the likes of Neil Diamond and Pink Martini, swinging from side to side rather than back and forth, because I liked the feeling of moving from side to side better than back and forth.

I kind of liked how the oak trees seemed to
lean over the trail as arches. =)
I lingered like this for probably 20 minutes or so before deciding it was time to continue on. I hopped off the swing, drank some water, and checked my flashlight. I unscrewed the end, popped out the batteries. Three of them. AAA.



That sucks.

Okay, then, no more pictures for this hike. That's a bummer. I hoped for an awesome sunset at the top of the ridge, and I no longer had a means to record it.

I put the batteries back in the flashlight, schlepped on my pack and continued up the ridge

The climb was steep, but only lasted about a mile before I reached the ridge top where I found a perfectly formed bench made out of rocks in the ground. It was an amazing little setup, and I was absolutely astounded because I had never seen it before. As soon as I reached the ridge top, I was on familiar terrain again. I had hiked up this ridge from the front many time before, but this rock bench somehow always eluded me. It's set off a bit from the main trail, and I knew that was obviously why I missed it before--I always stayed on the main trail. But wow! Who created this work of art? How long did it take? Why did they do it? I don't know, but there had to be a story there. The workmanship was amazing! This was no one-hour project!

Of course, along the creek, you can
always except to find plenty of
poison oak! =)
I admired the views of San Luis, now laid out below me, with the sun setting behind Madonna Mountain and Bishops Peak. The sky was rather hazy--not the best sunset I'd seen from up there, so I didn't feel too bad about my camera not working. Except darn it--I really wanted a photo of that rock bench!

While I was up here, I checked up on the Sacrifice at Reservoir Ridge letterbox I planted years ago, and was surprised to find a hitchhiker when I popped it open. A hitchhiker! Then I looked through the logbook to see who had left it. Amanda. From Seattle. Hmm... I looked at the hitchhiker again. I was with Amanda when he planted this hitchhiker. In 2007.

My letterboxes in this part of the world really get no respect. =)

The contents of the box were in good condition, but the lid of the box was badly cracked. It would need to be replaced, so I stuffed the box in my backpack. Next time I'm up there, I'll replace it.

Then it was time to head down the other side of the ridge. The trail followed the ridge top for a short ways, before turning down the ridge at a giant cairn (and when I say "giant," I'm talking about a pile of rocks taller than I am!). The going down was slow--the trail is steep and it's easy to slip, but I got down okay.

I expected to come out at the old junior high school, but due to a housing development, the last part of the trail had been rerouted to the end of a new dead-end street. No big deal, though--close enough. Then I walked into downtown for a much deserved yogurt with rainbow sprinkles on top before I walked back to my mom's house well after dark. =)

And another five or so miles done for the Hike-a-Thon. =)

How could I walk past without jumping onto the swing for just a moment?
It's just begging to be used....
I'm sure there's a story here.... but I have no idea what it is....
More junk.

I didn't notice this pole at first--it's tied to a branch high in the tree,
clearly meant for people to slide down like a fire pole. =)
I didn't bother sliding down the pole, though. My heart was
set on the swing!

I found this photo of the rock bench on -- I just had to include a picture of this
even if my camera wasn't working at the time!

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