Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hike to La Cumbre Peak

Today I hiked to La Cumbre Peak via Tunnel Trail. I don't think many people have any idea what hiking is like in Santa Barbara. Hopefully this set of pictures gives a little peak into it. Tunnel Trail is about a 10 minute drive from downtown. We are so lucky. It's not even the only trail so close to town, either. There are several other trailheads this close and the trailhead for Tunnel Trail leads to several trails, loops and destinations.

Here's the view looking down into downtown from about 1/3 of the way up the trail. You can see the ocean, too. The trail-like squiggly line is a dirt road that you can also hike that has nice views.
Tunnel Trail

Looking at Arlington Peak. There is a trail that goes up the spine of the ridge to the top. It's one of the more strenuous hikes locally.
Looking at Arlington Peak

Arlington and Cathedral peaks from behind. Cathedral Peak is the little notch sticking up. Most locals call Arlington Peak Cathedral Peak as a sort of short-hand. Cathedral Peak is then often called "The Thumb." There's a cave at the base on the front side of Cathedral Peak called the Horse Cave. Urban legend is that horses were stolen and hidden in there. I don't think it's quite big enough to store horses. Maybe one horse can fit in the cave.
Arlington and Cathedral peaks from behind

We've reached the top of Tunnel Trail. Now we can see the wilderness behind Santa Barbara. The wilderness back there is incredibly remote and rugged. Trails get swallowed by the chaparral. You often have to hike with not just a GPS or map and compass, but also with a saw, loppers and heavy leather gloves. It is lonely back there on those trails. Often I will not see other people. Often the only tracks on the trail belong to bears and lions.
The wilderness behind Santa Barbara

We hiked along East Camino Cielo Road for a mile or so to La Cumbre Peak. This is another view of the wilderness behind Santa Barbara, looking toward Mission Pine where The Man and I hope to take a backpack trip in a few days, weather permitting.

From the tops of the mountain ranges on the horizon, you can stand and look at the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands in one direction and look at the snowy peaks of the High Sierra around Langly and Whitney in the other. When we camp at Mission Pine Spring, we will sit out on the edge of a rocky cliff and watch cars way off in the distance driving over the Cold Spring arch bridge as the sun sets. You feel so close but at the same time, so very far away, isolated and alone.
Looking toward Mission Pine

The view of Arlington/Cathedral Peaks and downtown Santa Barbara from La Cumbre Peak. It was about 5.5 miles to get up here and about 3200' elevation gain. I live near the base of that small hill on the horizon against the ocean, near the notch in the hill, on the downtown side of the hill. That hill is called "The Mesa."
The view from La Cumbre Peak

Arlington and La Cumbre peak on the way down. I always like this view of the notch in the mountains. The mountains are all sedimentary layers and where there is a layer of shale between the sandstone, there's a notch. The layers are all upside-down, meaning the bottom is to the left and the top of the layers is to the right. They can tell that from embedded fossil shells. There was a fire here in 2009 which is why the scrub is somewhat barren. It used to be more green with chamise and scrub oak. There's a lot of morning glory choking everything.
Arlington and La Cumbre peak on the way down

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