TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Black Star Canyon in the Summertime

I don’t want to merely reiterate everything from the video that I recorded from Friday’s hike in Black Star Canyon (I’ll put it at the end of this post.) I will repeat however, that I decided to hike Black Star Canyon on Friday. I’ve been yearning mountain trails for quite a while now, and being that I cannot access some of my favorites, I decided to venture out to Black Star Canyon --  which is fairly local, but I have very little experience with. I have hiked to Black Star Falls (which was wonderful). But I have never ventured past that turnoff on Black Star Canyon Road.

The reason that I don’t venture into Black Star Canyon is firstly because there are so many other wonderful trails at my doorstep. But also, my lack of enthusiasm for visiting this canyon was mainly due to a couple of unruly residents, one who had brandished guns at hikers and mountain bikers. The overall unwelcome attitude was well-known. I guess though that I haven’t been keeping up with news. I did not know it until my hike on Friday, that those residents no longer live in Black Star Canyon. I remember reading that one of them had been jailed. Now though, the cabins are all behind the electrified fence of Edwards Ranch.

(Edwards Ranch? I’m at a loss. I cannot find out anything about this property (yet). All I can say is that it appears the owner has many acres in the base of the canyon behind his or her’s electrified fences. I can’t see any crops, or even buildings for that matter. If you are reading this and know about the ranch, please comment below. I have searched quite a bit on the internet and can’t find anything concerning the goings-on behind the electrified fence of Edward’s Ranch.)

But yet there’s more about the canyon’s history. More as in the canyon is said to be haunted. Something happened in 1831 around The Hidden Ranch area (not called that then) in Black Star Canyon. I have found a variety of stories. The story with the most specific information says that  a group of Shoshone horse thieves terrorized the Californios (Spanish colonists of California) who lived in the area. The Shoshone were in fact not local, but lived in the Los Angeles area. Anyway, those Californios contracted a mountain man named William Wolfskill (who later developed the Valencia orange and became the largest wine producer in the region.) Best I can tell from various website sources, Wolfskill tracked the horse thieves from Los Angeles into Black Star Canyon where they fought at an area now known as Hidden Ranch.  Reportedly, most of the Shoshone were killed on sight. None of William’s men were killed, or in fact even injured. I found other stories with slight variations, and others say that this story is completely fabricated. Never happened.

And then years later in Black Star Canyon, in the area that is known as Hidden Ranch (same place where Wolfskill reportedly killed the Shoshone Indians) there was another deadly confrontation -- this time between two families: The Hungerfords and the Greggs. The two families were horse ranching families in Back Star Canyon. An argument occurred over the price of a horse that ended up with a shootout. Mr. James Gregg died from multiple gunshot wounds. This story is verified and appears to have actually happened. (There was a court case and such).

In addition sometime during  the 1970s, supposedly (I say supposedly because I cannot find any news articles to confirm this story) a school bus driver drove his bus off a cliff in Black Star Canyon. The bus driver, a teacher, and most of the children are reported to have been killed. There are other eerie reports too. I found a few websites that give vague reportings of Klu Klux Klan presence in the canyon (though I don’t know of any timeframe). And there was also a terrible incident in 2001 that I can collaborate with news articles from the time. In 2001, four teenagers ventured into the canyon under darkness. Not such a good idea. Some members of a notorious gang terrorized the teens, beating the boys unconscious and raping the girls. (LA Times article here)

Of course, I have no way of knowing how accurate these stories are. But this is a place relatively unexplored on my end. And since my regular lovely mountain spots are closed due to The Holy Fire, Black Star Canyon seemed like a good choice for my Friday afternoon hike. And it was . . . until it wasn’t. And when it got too hot. It wasn’t. Simply put. The weather was just too warm for me. And so instead of the original 15 miles that I thought that I would attempt, I turned back early, finishing up with 8 miles. I will return to Black Star Canyon in the winter for sure!

Some pictures from my hike (video at end):
IMG_4075IMG_4077IMG_4084IMG_4087IMG_4090IMG_4096IMG_4097IMG_4113IMG_41159 7 189 7 18a

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