I spent this last Tuesday in the upper Santa Ynez drainage after hiking in late Monday afternoon and staying the night. I woke at 5:15, broke camp, brewed a tall cup of coffee and chomped down some homemade cake with banana frosting. A slim sliver of moon hung in the twilight of the eastern sky, as the sun began to rise and I sipped my coffee pondering what the day might bring. Few moments in time hold out as much promise as the dawn of a new day.
Later that day I stopped for an hour at Upper Santa Ynez Camp to cook some eggs and refill water bottles. The camp gets little if any use, but there were a few signs that somebody had been there since my last visit in December 2010.
The grill was up and there were a few old coals, but no sign of a campfire in the pit. There was an empty cup of Ranch dressing in the fire pit. Apparently its owner found it easier to hike or bike in the one ounce bit of dressing, but once eaten found it just too damn heavy to pack out the plastic container despite weighing next to nothing.
The most detestable evidence of recent activity at the camp came in the form a freshly carved “Amber and Dad” in the small oak tree closest to the fire pit. Somebody within the last six months blessed us with this tacky, trashy-looking arborglyph so that now when in camp it is constantly glaring at you. I thought about carving it off, but I only had a small Swiss Army knife. I’m not sure if that would be the better thing to do, as it would have left a larger wound, but at least once it oxidized and darkened it would look semi-normal again.
Perhaps I just didn’t notice it before, but the star thistle seems to be really taking over the grassy patches of the woods. What was once grass around the camp is now bristling with thistle.
The picnic table at the camp shows signs of a bear that has torn a large splinter of wood from one of the seats. The claw marks are clearly visible for about a two foot section and were there last December. As I approached the camp this time I came across a rather large wet and shiny bear poop that looked like it was still warm.
The camp is located aside a small alder tree shrouded year round creek and there is a bedrock mortar grinding stone just a few feet from the fire pit.