May 19th – Work Party: Corriganville Wildlife Corridor

I would like to thank Pete and the Rotary club members for helping us paint over the Graffiti in the wildlife tunnel. Special thanks to Pete for getting members to volunteer their time and work. We also had a couple of locals show up to help! Our goal was to give the tunnel a fresh, “ungraffitied” look, because the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy will soon install wildlife cameras.

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With nine of us working together, we painted over graffiti and picked up 125 pounds of trash from the area around the tunnel. The nice cool weather was welcome. Carrying 8 gallons of paint uphill is a lot of work in itself. We took the plastic water bottles and cans we found to be recycled, providing us with money to purchase more custom-colored paint for the rock graffiti within the park.

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May 12th – Sespe Condor Sanctuary

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13 hikers carpooled to Dough Flat (2,840’) and the Alder Creek Trail (20W11) trailhead about 15 miles north of Fillmore in the Los Padres National Forest on a chilly overcast spring morning (NOTE: It takes the better part of an hour to drive from the intersection of Hwy 126 and “A” Street up to Dough Flat at a safe speed due to the condition of the winding dirt road and its many blind curves; there’s a short very rough stretch of road shortly before reaching Dough Flat).

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The road was lined with a variety of blooming plants and there were increasingly captivating views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. Upon reaching the trailhead we availed ourselves of the nice well-equipped bathroom before starting up the nearby Alder Creek Trail which passes through the condor sanctuary, eventually connecting to the Sespe River Trail which heads west to its junction with the Gene Marshall (Piedra Blanca) National Recreation Trail at Rose Valley (about 25 miles by trail from Dough Flat). Our hike rose and fell (but mostly rose) as we hiked toward Cow Spring Camp and visibility under the overcast sky was good and we were rewarded with lots of dazzling displays of wildflowers, as well as interesting rock formations and mountain slopes. The hike was enhanced by the fact that only a couple of the participants had hiked this trail before [the Forest Service closes the Squaw Flat (FS 6N16) access road a couple of miles below Dough Flat for several months each “winter”; it was reopened on May 1st this year]. Eventually we reached the only fork in the trail during our hike; there was a barely decipherable black sign at the trail junction (3,700’). The right fork was the beginning of the Bucksnort Trail; we continued along the left fork on the Alder Creek Trail. About a mile later the trail descended into a large open flat area which we later discovered was Cow Spring Camp (3,500’). We continued a short distance further as the trail climbed to a nearby summit where we rested, ate lunch, and enjoyed a spectacular view to the west. We returned to Dough Flat the way we came; a very light rain fell during the final portion of the hike (during which there were no steep sections and the trail was “kind” to our feet. We returned home having completed a 7.7-mile hike with about 1,380’ of elevation gain/loss; sadly there were no condor sightings. NOTE: During our hike we observed a variety of blooming plants including yerba santa, sticky monkey flower, black mustard, golden yarrow, phacelia, elderberry, blue dick, and yucca.

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May 5th – Charmlee Wilderness Park Loop

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Nine hikers met at Donut Delite and carpooled to the Charmlee Wilderness Park, in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu. It was a warm and beautiful Spring morning. The park features a honeycomb network of trails, criss-crossing it in several directions. Our route was a clockwise loop, navigating the outside perimeter of the park. We began our hike at a shaded and over grown picnic area, a short distance south of the information kiosk at the Botany Trail.

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We began a counter-clockwise hike on the Towsley View Loop Trail. The trail gradually rose, through an oak grove, to a three-way trail split. We enjoyed a a flower filled tail, featuring a plethora of Hummingbird Sage and Canyon Sunflowers. From there we continued on the main trail as it passed between the eastern edge of the grassy meadow, that occupies much of the park on one side and copses of oak trees and rock outcroppings on the other (east) side. Eventually we reached “Ocean Vista” overlooking the Pacific Ocean which lay more than 1,000’ below. Views were relatively good today. We continued as the trail rose through chaparral to an abandoned cistern bordered by eucalyptus trees. The West Meadow Trail led us down to an old well and water pump after which we hiked around the “Black Forest,” partially on the Clyde Canyon Trail which provided views to the west. After rejoining the West Meadow Trail we soon turned left and headed northwest along an unnamed trail through a pleasant oak woodland until we reached Potrero Road which we followed up to a road junction where we turned right and explored the Ranch House ruins before following Carmichael Road and the Botany Trail back to the parking lot. We carpooled back to Donut Delite, having completed a short-but-satisfying 3.5-mile hike with 680’ of elevation gain/loss in this special park, with an amazing diversity of botany and geology.

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