Sunday, April 17, 2011

Little Pine Spring

Our campsite at Little Pine SpringI decided to do a little overnighter this weekend. The Man was leading a Sierra Club Hike to Little Pine Mountain. I told him I would bring my backpack and go on the hike and then stay overnight up there and then walk home or something. The Man decided he wanted to come with me. So we both did the Sierra Club hike with our backpacks and just let the other hikers find their own way back. We went on and camped at Little Pine Spring.

We had to begin the hike at Aliso Canyon instead of at the Upper Oso trailhead because the road was still closed at First Crossing. That added two extra miles to our hike (and four extra miles to the dayhikers.)

Old oak treeThe trail up to Little Pine Mountain was in good shape. It was a hot day. Steve was way ahead as usual but the others were feeling the heat, and so was I. We all planned to stop at the spring on the way up and rest and drink some water and then continue the final push to the top. Steve, being way ahead of everyone, missed the turn to the spring and ended up waiting for us for a long time. The rest of us enjoyed the cool, fresh water and relief from the heat.

When we got to Alexander Saddle, Steve was heading down thinking maybe we had had a problem. No problem. We were just enjoying the spring. Everyone decided Alexander Saddle was far enough. So The Man and I said good-bye to everyone and continued down the trail toward Little Pine Spring camp. The trail suddenly fell apart.

There were downed trees and big trail washouts. It was slow going the final couple miles to the turn-off to Little Pine Spring.

View from Little Pine SpringThe sign to the spring was embedded in some bushes, with no trail visible anywhere. We remembered that if we hugged the bottom edge of the potrero, where the grass met the brush, there would be a faint trail to follow. We continued on the main trail and then we just wend straight down the side of the hill to the bottom and picked up that faint trail. We followed for a while then lost it in some old dried up mustard. We fought the mustard straight down the hill where we picked up the faint trail again. We could see the camp.

The camp was nice. The pipe feeding the trough was dripping slowly, but above the trough, two pipes had spring water flowing quickly through them. The water has to be the best-tasting water in the backcountry of Santa Barbara. Most water tastes horrible, but this water was sweet and delicious.

We spread out the tyvek under the tree and just laid around and talked and relaxed, flicking ticks off us and swatting flies. It was a wonderful relaxing afternoon. We listened to birds and watched two ravens fly slowly over the camp, eyeing us with one eye pointed at us. Maybe they like to come each evening for water at the spring. They'd have to drink from the creek up the hill tonight. We watched them catch a mouse in the field and fly off to eat it. There are so many birds in the wilderness here in So Cal. Way more than on the PCT anywhere north of Kennedy Meadows. I could hear at least 6 different kinds, including humming birds, quail, mourning doves, ravens and many other smaller birds.

We enjoyed one of the warmest backcountry nights we'd ever had. It was breezy but comfortable. Our sleeping bags were almost too hot. The moon was very bright.

In the morning we decided to explore a connector trail that led to Happy Hollow camp near the summit of Little Pine mountain. We lost the faint trail in a fallen tree and then spent about 3 hours bushwhacking through impossible tangly brush going about 1 mile in about 3 hours. It was pretty stupid. I'm all cut up now on top of my raging sunburn. The sunburn I got because I thought it was such a nice day I might enjoy a short-sleeved shirt! No more short-sleeved shirts!

The way down the hill back to our car was very long. We didn't get to the car until about 3 in the afternoon. We remembered it was Tri-tip sandwich day at the Cold Spring Tavern so we stopped there for delicious sandwiches and beer. We earned it.

I was glad The Man came with me. I felt bad that nobody wanted to backpack with me. My friend lied about last weekend. Nobody but The Man will backpack with me. It was nice he decided to go. I probably would not have had as nice a time without him.

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