Welcome to this edition of
California Mountain Adventures!!
We drove out to the southeastern side of the Santa Lucia mountain range to the Arroyo Seco trailhead. We tossed on our packs and headed up the trail into the Ventana Wilderness. We followed along the beautiful flowing waters of the Arroyo Seco to the trail junction at the 'Forks' camp. From here we left the creek and started climbing up the Rodeo Flats trail. This trail was really steep and had very little shade so it was pretty tough, but the views were awesome!
@alaqrab at the trailhead
Crossing Arroyo Seco
Me and @alaqrab on the Rodeo Flats trail
Views from the Rodeo Flats trail
We paced ourselves and just kept working our way up, stopping along the way to snack on some delicious Toyon Berries that were growing on the side of the trail. Eventually we made it up onto the North Coast Ridge where we got our first views of the Pacific Ocean! From there we dropped down the west side of the ridge to a small meadowy stream where we made our first camp. After getting all setup we had some food and then found a great spot to watch the sunset over the Pacific ocean. It was absolutely spectacular! After sunset we hung out and chatted for awhile before going to bed. This was my first trip ever with @alaqrab so we were still just getting to know each other.
First views of the ocean
Our first camp
Sunset glow at camp
*gif by @alaqrab
The first night was COLD! We woke up with everything frosted and frozen. But once the sun was up we thawed out pretty quickly. We had some breakfast, packed up camp, and hit the trail. We climbed back up onto the North Coast Ridge and then headed south on the ridge. The ridge provided us some amazing views both to the east and west, but also gave us quite a challenge with lots of obstacles like bushwhacking through brush and climbing around downed trees.
Me on North Coast Ridge
*photo by @alaqrab
Obstacles on the trail
@alaqrab enjoying the views from the ridge
We continued along the ridge to the junction with the upper end of the Arroyo Seco trail which we'd be taking on our return trip in two days. Once passed the junction we entered into a pine forest of HUGE Coulter pines and Sugar pines! These two pine varieties make the largest pine cones (Coulter pine cones are the heaviest, and Sugar pine cones are the longest) and we got to see lots of really big ones!
Entering the pine forest
Sugar Pine cone
Coulter Pine cone
Enjoying more views from the ridge
We hiked passed the Carrizo trail to the junction with the Gamboa trail. Here we left the ridge and descended down into the big lush canyon just north of Cone peak to the 'Trail Springs' camp. Trail Springs is a beautiful place and as the name suggests it has some springs near the trail where fresh clean mountain water is pouring straight out of the ground! We setup our camp and then took a little walk around and checked out the area. On our walk we ran into a really cool Banana Slug, but we were actually surprised at how little wildlife we had seen otherwise. Once back at camp we made some dinner and then headed to bed for our second night.
More obstacles on the trail
Trail Springs camp
*photo by @alaqrab
The Banana Slug
Dusk at Trail Springs
The next morning we got up and made some breakfast. While we were cooking we had another hiker stop by to get some water from the springs. She turned out to be the only person we would encounter on the entire trip. After breakfast we threw a few items in a day pack and headed up the Cone peak trail. The trail climbed up and out of the canyon giving us some great views of the coast. Then we made the final climb up to the summit of Cone Peak! The peak has amazing 360 degree views, which is why they have put a fire lookout tower there. It was a little breezy so the tower gave us a nice windbreak while we hung out and enjoyed the summit.
Starting up the Cone peak trail
Views from the trail
@alaqrab overlooking the California coastline
Climbing Cone peak
Cone peak fire lookout
Views from the peak
Selfie on the peak
@alaqrab on the peak
After soaking up all the awesome views we headed back down the mountain to Trail Springs. We packed up our camp there and then headed back up the Gamboa trail to the junction with the Carrizo trail. Then we took the Carrizo trail a short distance down to the 'Cook Springs' camp. The camp was back into that pine forest area and so we were once again surrounded by the huge trees! And as you might expect with the name there was a mountain spring by the camp providing us fresh water. Although it was not gushing like Trail springs it was flowing plenty enough to serve it's purpose. We made our camp, had some dinner, and then headed into the tents for one last night in the mountains.
@alaqrab climbing on top of some rocks on our way down Cone peak
Carrizo trail junction
Huge pine trees at Cook Springs camp
Cooking dinner and charging electronics with @alaqrab's Biolite camp stove
Sunset from Cook Springs camp
The next morning we woke up pre-dawn and packed up our camp in the dark and the cold. We hit the trail early with a mission... to get up onto the North Coast Ridge for the sunrise! The climb up to the ridge was steep but short, and we found an excellent spot along the ridge with views both to the east and the west. We got there right on time and we made our breakfast while watching the sun come up.
Looking west from the ridge
@alaqrab watching the sunrise
After breakfast we continued back along the ridge to the junction with the Arroyo Seco trail. The Arroyo Seco trail dropped us down (through a bunch more bushwhacking) off the ridge and back down to Arroyo Seco creek. This area of the canyon was very lush and beautiful and there were several nice places to camp including the 'Madrone' camp where we stopped for a little break and the 'Forks' camp where we rejoined the trail we had originally hiked in on three days earlier. From there it was one final mile down the canyon and back to the trailhead where we began.
Our last ocean view from the North Coast Ridge
Arroyo Seco trail junction
Hiking down the Arroyo Seco trail
Getting some water from the creek at Madrone camp
@alaqrab crossing the creek
And that's it for this edition of California Mountain Adventures!
Special thanks to @alaqrab for planning this trip and inviting me to come along!!
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