TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Black Star Falls for 54

I don't think about age much, especially mine, which is why I was confused this past week (Sat., February 16) when I thought that I was turning 53 years old. But then I did the math. The truth: I have now made the revolution around the sun 54 times. In celebration, my husband and I took the one day in between rains (we had been experiencing near constant rain) to hike out to Black Star Falls. The only other time I had ever made that hike was also with my husband, along with some friends. That first trip 9 years ago. It was another era in my life. It was when I was running all the time; I was much stronger physically then. I recall the hike being strenuous and what I would rate as a moderately difficult hike. 

And it was again -- a strenuous, moderately difficult hike. There was a difference though. This time, the creek was crashing through the canyon. Crashing. It was so full, there was no staying dry. It took so much mental focus traversing between the boulders and rapidly moving creek that it became tiresome. Other times, we were scrambling up mud banks, or but sliding down unwalkable surfaces. You really can't beat that type of hiking. It takes both mental and physical strength. And for me, I had some mental and physical strength to pull from, but I was slow moving. Slow moving was okay though, because that canyon was so lush and beautiful, that I loved all the time I could get taking it its glamour. 

Another difference nine years later, is the powers that be erected a sign pointing the way to the falls. As such, there were crowds of hikers on the 16th (I'd say more than 50). But the terrain was difficult enough to thinly spread out the field. Often it seemed like we were the only hikers (waders!) out there.  On a sad note, graffiti had been spray painted on some of the rocks (grrrrr!). 

The falls though -- wow. WOW. Absolutely remarkable how much water tumbled down into the creek. It was loud and misty. And the natural terrain of haphazard boulders made it comfortably easy to lounge about with a couple other dozen people where if we wanted to converse to one another, needed to yell because the falls were that loud. 











Monday, February 18, 2019

Black Star Canyon is Beautiful!

On our second day of no rain last week, 2/8/19 (all other 5 days, we got rain), I headed back to Black Star Canyon. After having turned back because of the heat during the summer, I vowed to return in the wintertime.  
Wintertime is here, and Black Star Canyon did not disappoint. My goal was to hike up Black Star Canyon Road to Beek's Place. Having researched it some on the internet, I figured the trip would be about 15 miles long. I had just enough time to fit that hike in. I was hoping for a total time of 5 hours. That did not happen. Of course that did not happen because I always get side-tracked on little detours. 



First detour: 
A trip down to the top of Black Star Falls. After some miles zig-zagging up Black Star Canyon Road I began to hear a roar -- a roar, even listening to music on my ipod (which I don't usually listen to very loudly). My first thought, though I really couldn't believe it, was that the roar was coming from Black Star Falls. But I had been marching for much too long, surely, I had long passed the falls. The roar intrigued me, but was presumably the first opportunity to make it down there seemed too time-consuming, and I wasn't positive it was a good route anyway. So, I headed back up to the road. 

And then Black Star Canyon road meandered away, zig-zagging again up the mountain. A bit later, I heard that fierce roar again. That's when I realized that I was standing atop a thin single track that headed down from Black Star Canyon Road, off toward the roar, off toward two giant boulders in the not so far distance.  



The first trail I took off of this track took me just to the left of the right boulder in the picture above. As I approached, it became evident to me that I was indeed above the falls, the sound was just so fierce. But just when I thought that I was getting closer, my trail ended at a cliff, an abrupt clift, too scary to even consider approaching. In fact, I backed off immdediately and headed off to another single track that I had spotted on the way down. 

Friends, I found the creek. And it was rushing hard and loud. I was surrounded by boulders, and slippery footings. So, I took a seat on top of a nice solid boulder. I could not see to the bottom of the falls, and I have no idea if there were hikers below. They could have been yelling and I would not have heard them because the water was so loud. I'm not even sure how close I was to the falls. I didn't want to chance venturing closer. I felt this was a time for extreme caution. And besides, the spot that I had found to take it all in was really just spectacular.  



Second detour:
After the falls, I found another enchanting single track off of Black Star Canyon Road (there were actually many different distractions, but I had refrained mostly). This second detour took me through a meadow out onto groups of boulders that led to the edge of the valley.

After that second detour, I began heading down into an immense green valley. The road followed Black Star Creek for quite some time, crossing back and forth over it here and again. Finally, the road headed away from the main creek, but not too far afterward, I came upon another creek that undoubtedly met up with Black Star Creek. There were actually little creeks all over, our rains have been near constant. 




At about 9 miles traversed, I arrive to the ruins of Beek's Place on The Main Divide. I spent some time going through the ruins. There were two buildings, both just one room with fireplaces and plenty of windows. There view was spectacular -- white capped San Gorgonio Mountains and The San Gabriels covered in snow. After a little detour on top (detour #3) to get a better view of The San Gabriels, I finally decide to head back. I was way behind in schedule. But that was okay -- it was Friday, my day off.






Black Star Canyon to Beek's Place, Cccccold in the morning, approx. 37,000 steps (supposidly) 17.17 miles, 2,684' elevation gain. It was gorgeous out there. Black Star Canyon is beautiful! Green, green, green. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Las Ramblas in Between Rains

Well, heck, we've had a lot of rain lately in the state of California, the place that supposidly doesn't get any rain. Only problem with the no-rain claim is that I have lived here all of my life, and we get plenty of rain EVENTUALLY.  People just have short memories, else they are just too young to remember the many, many times we've had lots of rain. 

It's a good thing that we're finally getting rain. We've been in a drought for a while. The creeks are now all flowing, water falls are falling. Everything is green. It's beautiful. But most of the time on our rain reprieve days, my local trails are closed due to "wet and muddy conditions." I had a hunch though that Las Ramblas Trail wasn't closed. Las Ramblas trailhead is at the edge of Dana Point, right on the border of San Juan Capstrano. The trails associated with Las Ramblas run just inland, overlooking Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. The view of the Pacific Ocean is immense. But there are no trees. Literally, no trees. There's a few tall shrubs here and there, but really not much shade to speak of. This is why I rarely ever hit Las Ramblas. But there are no rangers for these trails (that I know of, as I believe they are city trails), which meant that possibly they were not closed due to wet and muddy conditions.

Las Ramblas did not disappoint. It was open as I had hoped. It was cold, it was muddy, and at times it was gray. But add to that gray, a sea of green -- and that's not a sea as in the ocean (the ocean was a silver-gray). The sea of green belonged to the hills, they were covered with fresh new growth. Of course, the dirt trails were completely saturated, which meant mud. Boy was it muddy. 

In all I got in 7.59 miles with 1,591' of elevation gain.