Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A great Hike

I guess if you stay in a place long enough, and refuse to give up, you will eventually find the great hike you have been looking for.  That's what happened on Monday.

We've had some nice walks during our stay here, but none have really been great.  Some were just too short, some had boring views,  and some have been too hot or too hard and we turned back.

The weather forecast for Monday promised cooler temperatures than the weekend before it, with highs in the mid 70's. So we checked AllTrails National Geographic and found a hike that had good reviews and sounded like one we would enjoy.

The Santa Margarita River Trail is about 45 minutes away.  Although I skipped water aerobics so we could get an earlier start, it was still almost ten before we left the Alfa. Craig had printed the trail map, but not the address or directions to get there. His phone navigator did not recognize the trail name, but we were able to get pointed in the right direction by telling it the name of the road we were aiming for.  We ended up taking a longer route, but the drive was very pretty.  Not much traffic, and no appointment time to meet! The important thing is we got there.

I don't mind rough trails, or trails that have sections with significant uphills, but I don't do well in the heat or on trails that are completely shadeless. 

This trail turned out to be a good mix of shaded forest trail overlooking the river, with some challenging rock scrambles, a few places where we had to climb uphill through the chaparral, 

and some shadeless traverses across the rock strewn hillside high above the river.  

Although the sun felt hot at times when we were out of the trees, the air never really did because there was a cool breeze. 

Walking the high trail gave us a close look at Southern California hills that are burned over by wildfires every few years.  This area probably burned sometime in the last ten years. There were many small bare, blackened trees among the new growth of manzanita and chamise.

 Speaking of plants, does anyone know what this stuff is?

We have seen it on weeds along the roads. It is very thin and covers the host plant. 

On the tops of the hills there were very large homes, and you could see the generous green lawns defensible space around them. The views were amazing.

As usual we stopped for a little lunch about half way thru our hike.

As we sat on a boulder high above the river valley, I asked Craig if in his younger years he had imagined himself eating sandwiches with his old wife in the foothills of a Southern California mountain range.  I know, when I was in my twenties, I thought that 67 was far too old to be doing much more than sitting in front of a TV watching soap operas like my mother did.

In addition to the usual lizards running everywhere, we saw a few other critters on this hike.

We came upon this guy on the soft sandy trail near the river. He must have heard us coming because he was all tucked in and going nowhere. We could see his track running quite a few yards down the path to a place were he had come up from the river's edge.  We of course left him alone, other than getting down to his level to get this picture. I looked for him on the way back. He was long gone on turtle business.

We also saw a bobcat on the trail ahead of us in the chaparral, but he vanished before we could get a picture.  We also noted a wonderful abundance of bird song in the wooded areas.  I always find it a bit disturbing when we walk in forests and don't hear a peep or a chirp from the birds.  Maybe it was because it is springtime and all the birds are looking for love!

On the way down we noticed something we had missed going up. This wrecked car shell was behind a tree on the side of the river. We had noticed other debris caught in the trees four to six feet above the water line. We realized this was from past high waters. Since there was no road anywhere near this car, we have to assume it had been carried here by a flood.

Craig has the Map My Hike app on his phone. 

We have been using it to see where we are. The reviews of this hike mentioned the trail was not well marked. Although we did not have any problems, it was interesting to compare our route as shown on the phone with the trail map we had printed before we left home. The app shows the red line as you go. The above image is a screen shot of our completed route.

We went 6.3 miles, with a 200 foot elevation change, averaging about two miles per hour.  

We were both quite happy to see the parking lot where we started, and enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, even if we were both very tired.  

One of the nice things about RVing is that after a hike like this we could go back to our own home, shower, drink margaritas in our jammies and not have to find a restaurant for dinner.

Life is good!


  1. And what was Craig's answer to your posed question?

  2. Great hike - you saw some interesting things. Turtle business, huh? That made me laugh. Probably much more serious than monkey business. :)

  3. Sounds like a great day.....and I want to know what Craig said too. :)

  4. That yellowish/orange "vine" you saw is all over the island of St. Croix. It is an invasive plant from IIRC Afirca. When it's in bloom it has green leaves and the most beautiful small pink flowers. They have tried to eradicate it on ST.C. and can even fine you if they find it on your property but they haven't had much luck getting rid of it. Sorry I can't remember the name of it.

  5. That looks like a great hike! I love the picture of the old car in the bushes.

    A margarita sounds wonderful. :)

  6. Bobcat - wow! Yep - and your sheets are clean and the Margaritas aren't watery.

  7. We just love being able to explore the area we are in, and sleeping in our own bed at night. Life is good!

  8. Sounds like a super hike. Cool turtle.

  9. Love the picture of the turtle! The trail looks nice, especially the shady spots.

  10. In response to Merikay's question about eating sandwiches with an old wife, I said something like "the possibility of doing such a thing may have crossed my mind, but less often than other ideas about what I would do with my life". That's the best I could think of...

  11. Your plant, which we call "dodder": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuscuta

    It's parasitic, i.e., it doesn't sink roots (other than an initial baby root that dies quickly), it just lives off a host. Spreads viciously. First time I saw it was in SoCal back in the mid-90s, but it's all over the place now.

    Lovely trail!

  12. Any day with a turtle in it is a good day!

  13. Sounds like our kind of hike can't wait till Dave's better and we can get back into hiking. We used to enjoy walking down to the river after some serious rain to see what had been washed down stream, used to find some interesting things for the garden.

  14. I love reading about your hikes - is it wrong for me to be insanely jealous?

  15. I love the turtle pic too! I can't wait for all the upcoming hiking! Hurry up and sell house!


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