Saturday, January 20, 2007

Point Sal to Santa Barbara (almost). January 12 thru January 17

I drove out a ranch road to what should have been PT Sal SB. Never a scap of evidence there was a SB here, but a really nice hike through the hills towards the ocean with a couple of cache finds and more promised, I was south of Guadalupe Dunes, in the hills the northend boundary of Vandenberg Airforce Base. Great vistas the whole hike, and more promised, until I reached a roadblock with a notice that "All recreational activities suspended until further notice" posting. There was a path around the block, which I took, but noticed a plaque on the ground. When I turned it over, it was a trespassing notice from the C.O. of the base, with dire warnings. No desire to be shot today by my own military, I u-turned and winced about the most sought after cache being just 550' away! Oh well, many more exciting caches lay ahead, that is if I stay out of the brig :'). There was a fork in the trail that may have taken me to the SB, but I decided not to add miles to the hike for what may be... Instead I spent a couple of hours moseying through the outskirts of the base, checking publicly open side roads, until reaching Lompoc (LLam-Poke). Nice town, At the southern boundry of base. Many building Murals, Flowers in the spring a big thing, and a great beach area. Spent the afternoon exploring before driving a half-hour south to a Santa Barbara county park on the beach named Jalama. I am finding that as I move south, there is a greater Spanish or regional Indian influence in all towns and region names...Spent the next two days here, kicked back and beach bummin. I did walk the beach northward a couple of miles, taking in an exciting cache named "the outer limits" (due to being right on the edge of the AF base), gc4obf. It was given terrain ratings of 3.5, but I would go higher, only for the access up to and down from the bluff. Every now and then I will get out of my comfort zone to retrieve a cache, and this happened to be one of them. I will post a few pics, but doubt they will do justice. To get up to the bluff required going up a trail of soft sand and loose gravel that was pitched at, I don't know, maybe a 25% angle? Luckily, I had picked up a stick from down below to use as a hiking staff, and it was a saving grace. The problem was that the trail ended just above a ledge at seaside. Any slip and it would be a bounce on the landing and into the rocks in the ocean below! Please excuse me girls, but I hike like "a little old lady", especially in these type of situations! I took several minutes to scale the 75' or so up to the top. That was the easy part! After retrieving the cache, I stood at the top of the bluff looking at this "slide" down, wondering if it had been worth it :). I literally went down this trail in a squat, lowering my center of gravity, ready to use my butt as a brake, and kept the stick pointed in front to slow my momentum. HIGH ADVENTURE, it was! Made it down with no incident and the little highwire walk around the face of a gorge to make it to the area seemed like a cakewalk. Oh, I dropped off a travel bug I had held for quite a while at this cache. It was a 10,000 Dinara Iraqi bill with Husseins portrait on it. Kind of in honow o our troops, since I was right next to the base. It was a beautiful hike on the beach, fascinating rocks and formations, lots of seabirds, and even some Brandt (?) geese, which are no bigger than a mallard. On the return, My GPS'r totally wigged out! It was all over the board! It had me at an altitude of 39,950 feet, than 4,000 feet, than 40 miles an hour to well out into the pacific, totally nuts. I had experienced some other problems with it in the last few days, and was thinking it was on its way out, but maybe... just maybe, the AF has some "toys" in use, either for security or in testing, that I was experiencing...I saved the tracklog, and will try to upload it for view as a pic, especially for you other GPS users. Totally bizarre!
Sat at beachside tonight and used the oil platforms for a backdrop for the sunset :').
Worked south on hwy 1 to junction 101 and Gaviota pass. Very nice. Santa Ynez range, and lots of intersting areas to explore. But first, a sidetrip to Solvang, a town to the east that was settled by Danish Americans early in the 1900's. I made asidetrip to the sidetrip :') to check out a cache at a waterfalls! It promised a very unusual visit, as these falls built rock instead of eroding it away! Nojoqui Falls deposit calcium and magnesium carbonate onto the rock surface as they flow. This combination forms a rock similiar to stalagmite onto the rock cliff and builds outward. As the pics will show, there is a 6 to 8 foot buildup of cliff face beneath the falls. Even though there was little water flowing, the icecicles from the weekend freeze made for a spectacular view! I took the backway from the falls to Solvang, which proved to be pretty interesting. A highlight was a stop for a bite at Shelbi Ranch Cafe. The food is all priced at $1 an item. They have a posting for volunteer wait staff, and all of the tips go to the Shriners Children Hospital. They have a western wear museum upstairs, and I guess they manufacture western wear as a business. Certainly do not earn a living from selling food :). The walls are littlered with photos and autographs of celebrities that visit, and Shriners certificates for 100 million dollar contributers!. The owners were working the place, and he was a hoot. He would deliver the food, and sit down with you and just chitchat. Almost a... (who played Daniel Boone on tv?) look alike in older age. Long grey hair, jeans and cowboy boots look. They had talking hotdog condiment trays, and every imagible gimmick going. Great charitable contribution and great little spot!
I bounced around the next several days, in between the coastline from Gaviota Pass and inland of the pass. I have become intrigued with the makeup of the hills and peaks here. There is a sharp contrast to the coastal hills and a steep vertical uprising of shale rock, making up the Santa Ynez range. I did a number of caches, and took backroads into the range to get a better look at the contrast. One morning I started the day with a soak at Gaviota Hot Springs. They are not much, and are only maybe 85 degrees, but it was still an experience. Especially with it being in the 30's at the time. There are several nice state parks along the coast, but for the most part, they are shut except for Refugio. Interesting history along this stretch! I went after a cache into the foothills on a secluded road, only to find myself dead ending at a fire station. No roadside parking forced me into their parking lot, just as the engine returned from a call. Took less than half a minute for one of the guys to be at my side asking if he could help me. Sheesh. Within a minute of conversation, I stated to him that "you guys have to know about IT, right?" Oh, the geocache, he said with a chuckle. One of the fireman is a cacher and placed it. I swear I was muggled by the whole company during retrieval :'). Another road took me near to the ridge summit and awesome views down onto the pacific and channel islands. I finally went after the most intriguing of caches, "the wind cave"-gc14ae. Great hike up across the transition from coastal to mountain. The shale is pushed up from the old ocean bed at a vertical slant, instead of the typical horizontal layers that we usually see in shale. The "Caves" are just pockets that I believe are erosion caused. They speck the range throughout the pass. wind cave sits atop an peak and has an opening of several feet in diameter that has opened all the way through the rock. You can sit in the cave, and if daring enough to lay on the slant to get the angle, peek out at the ocean and hills on the opposite side. I braced my feet either side of the hole, and slid myself down far enough to get the view. Neat hike with awesome views. After lunch at the dayuse area of Gaviota, I moved southeast towards Santa Barbara. Stopped in Goleta and was sidetracked at a coastal park there until after sunset. I had spoken with Steve Smedes earlier in the day, and he said there was coastal camping 15 miles osuth of SB. Off I went. Well, that did not pan out, and next thing I knew, I was in Ventura :). I stayed there so that I could arrange a pack trip out to the channel islands... And so, I will be camping on Santa Cruz Island for two nights, as of January 26. My goal is to spend the time in between back in the SB area. They evidently have a nice shoreline, a very nice town and close access to great hiking in the Los Padres forest just back of town. Steve told me of two hot springs and I have also noted water falls through cache material.All I have to do is to actually get myself to SB and situated.

No comments: