FEBRUARY

February 29th – Happy Camp Canyon and Middle Range Fire Road Loop

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23 hikers met in the dirt parking lot at the east end of Broadway Road north of Moorpark on a sunny morning with a pretty blue and white-cloud-dotted sky. After a group photo was taken, we followed a well-maintained trail beside the Rustic Canyon golf course a little over a mile to the entrance to Happy Camp Canyon, “a lush riparian oak woodland with an intermittent stream,” enjoying a lovely display of lush green grass and wildflowers including Fiddleneck, Purple Nightshade, Collar and Bush Lupine, Bush Sunflowers, Blue Dick, Bladerpod, California Peony, Wishbone, Datura, Prickly Phlox, Owl’s Clover and California poppies.

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Although the landscape was lush, the “stream” was absent due to the lack of recent rain. Passing the junction with the west end of the Middle Range Fire Road, we followed an old ranch road eastward as it gradually rose 600’ in the canyon bottom between Oak Ridge and Big Mountain. At 4.8 miles we took a break in an oak grove with picnic tables and hitching rails.

We then split into two groups; one group returned to the parking lot the way we had come; the other group climbed steeply for 0.5 mile up Big Mountain to the Middle Range Fire Road via an abandoned, steep, and partially eroded dirt connector road. Once we reached the ridge (and recovered from the steep climb) we took in the views to the south and west which were relatively clear for several miles, but were hazy at greater distances (for example, we couldn’t see any of the Channel Islands). After hiking westward while enjoying blooming plants including large swatches of Fiddleneck, California poppies, and some beautiful Collar and Bush Lupine as we descended to the entrance to Happy Camp Canyon, we made our way back to the parking lot. The group that chose to hike the loop completed an 11-mile hike with 1,543′ of elevation gain/loss. The group that chose the out-and-back option completed a 9.8-mile mile with 985′ of elevation gain/loss. It was indeed a very nice day for hiking.

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February 22nd – Danielson Memorial via the Fossil Trail

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13 hikers gathered at the Wendy Trail trailhead at the south end of Wendy Drive in Newbury Park on a cool midwinter morning with a blue sky that was partially filled with towering clouds that suggested the possibility of rain. Our Santa Monica Mountains outing began as we hiked the Wendy Trail over to the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center in Rancho Sierra Vista. We then headed south as the paved upper section of Sycamore Canyon Road descended into the canyon; as we did so we passed large areas covered with lush green grass.

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Immediately after crossing the bridge in the canyon bottom, we left the road (and the bicycle riders) and headed northeast on the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail for a very short distance to a junction with the Fossil Trail which we turned right onto (the former sign at the trail junction that was burned badly in the May, 2013 Camarillo Springs Fire is now gone completely). The Fossil Trail began climbing steeply to the east on a flank of Boney Mountain, gaining 760’ of elevation in 0.9 mile. The trail was adorned with lots of blooming ceanothus trees (both white and blue), purple nightshade, and wild cucumber vines; near the trail’s upper end we stopped briefly to admire several fossils embedded in rock.

When we reached the junction with the Boney Mountain Trail, we took a break and then turned left and continued on up the mountain with excellent views to the west and after a while to the north and east. We encountered bush sunflowers, California poppies, and morning glories along the way. When we reached the junction with Danielson Road, we turned right and hiked the short distance to the Danielson Memorial and the ruins of the Danielson house (only a chimney remains) where we took a lengthy break in the still heavily wooded (unburned) area. As we continued our hike we descended along the Danielson Road and visited the usually dry waterfall along the way. Fortunately there was a little water flowing in the stream so we saw a small waterfall. A few minutes later we followed the Windmill Trail (where we encountered a lovely display of shooting stars) back to the parking area which we reached having completed an 8.1-mile loop hike with about 2,000’ of elevation gain/loss (without being rained on) on another great morning for hiking.

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February 15th – Work Party – Mt. McCoy trail

The February Trail Blazers trail work party was held on the Mt. McCoy trail.

Work was conducted in 3 areas. The first area was at a steep sharp turn in the trail that had been rebuilt with rock on two previous work parties and both times were collapsed by hikers short cutting the turn. This time we installed an 8 foot section of 2 x 8 board. The board was backed up on both sides by rock and then covered with dirt. Brush was trimmed on the turn as well, to encourage hikers to stay on the trail.

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Working down trail, the next two areas consisted of fixing sections of steep downhill trail side slopes caused by erosion from rain water runoff from illegal trail cutting paths perpendicular to the trail. Again we installed 8 foot 2 x 8 boards at both locations and leveled the trail with dirt fill.

We worked from 8:00 AM to Noon. On our way out, we also removed some of the cacti growing out into the trail path where the trail passes through the edge of a giant patch of Prickly Pear Cactus at the bottom of the trail.

Work was conducted by Martin DeGoey and John Sabol. A special thanks to Martin who on the week before had purchased and hauled up the three 8 foot 2 x 8 boards and hid them in the brush near the work locations.

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February 8th – Solstice Canyon

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14 hikers carpooled to Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near the Pacific Ocean on a cool mid-winter morning. Our out-and-back hike began by following flowing Solstice Creek along the nearly-level, well-shaded Solstice Canyon Trail (a dirt road), taking advantage of two short trails paralleling the dirt road along the way, and reaching the Sostomo Trail junction after about one mile.

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Next we followed the Sostomo Trail as it climbed steadily toward a junction with the Deer Valley Loop Trail, enjoying a beautiful day with green mountainsides and several types of blooming plants including sunflowers, ceanothus trees (both white and blue), and morning glories. As the somewhat-shaded trail rose we had clear views of Solstice Canyon and the Rising Sun Trail across the canyon.

After reaching Deer Valley, we followed the loop trail in a clockwise direction as it ascended the mountainside to an overlook of the Pacific Ocean. There were good views of the surrounding land area, but ocean views were limited. We spotted a couple of patches of blooming California poppies near the overlook point, adding to the spring-like feeling of the day. After taking a break we completed the loop and then returned along the Sostomo Trail to the Solstice Canyon Trail (road).

Turning left we walked the very short distance to Tropical Terrace, the ruins of the Roberts house built in the 1950s and destroyed by wildfire in 1982. At one time there were giraffes, camels, buffalo, African deer, and exotic birds in the canyon (but not now!). We took a lengthy lunch/rest break at Tropical Terrace and enjoyed the ambiance of palm trees, murmuring Solstice Creek, and water in the nearby waterfall. We then returned to our vehicles via the Solstice Canyon Trail having completed a 7-mile hike with about 1,700’ of elevation gain/loss.

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February 1st – Temescal Gateway Park

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13 hikers carpooled via Hwy 118, I-405, and Sunset Blvd to the lower parking lot at Temescal Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades on a beautiful morning for hiking. A lovely refuge from the nearby urban congestion, the park borders Topanga State Park. Our hike began on a shady trail along the streambed in Temescal Canyon and led pleasantly past rustic buildings constructed in the 1920’s for the Methodist Church as a west coast center for the Chautauqua movement.

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The whole area is shaded by towering sycamore, oak, and eucalyptus trees and a variety of other non-native trees such as palms and conifers. There was a surprising variety of blooming plants, including cliff asters, sunflowers, purple nightshade, and ceanothus trees.

The trail began rising (as did the temperature) in Temescal Canyon as it entered Topanga State Park and we soon reached a wooden bridge crossing the (barely-existent-today) stream at a point where there is sometimes a series of cascades (a “waterfall”) though they contained almost no water due a recent lack of rain. Continuing westward along the trail as the temperature continued to climb, we soon reached Temescal Ridge and were rewarded by panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains, the coastline, and the Los Angeles skyline. Since the temperature was well on its way to being uncomfortable, we quickly descended along the Temescal Ridge (aka Viewpoint) Trail to the canyon bottom where we took advantage of the nice bathroom facilities, having abandoned the planned continuation of the hike over to Will Rogers State Historic Park. We returned to Simi Valley having completed a 4.2-mile hike with 1,025’ of elevation gain.

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