Lazy Day in the Hills: A Canyon Hike Called Off

View of the sunrise on my way up Figueroa Mountain and into Santa Barbara’s San Rafael Wilderness.

I left the trailhead at 7 am, but was already back by 3 pm. Lack of sleep and fatigued combined with shriveled enthusiasm to put the kibosh on my plan for the day. And so the canyon shall have to wait.

It will be better when water is once again flowing, anyhow. I don’t often hike the area when the creeks are dry and the roar of trickling water filling the canyons was noticeably absent. The quiet of the canyons at this time of year made for an odd day. It was less lively, less dynamic. Silence where I’m not used to it.

There were a few standing pools of clear water along the tributary I headed up, but the creek was otherwise dry, the graduated lines of mineral stains on boulders showing where seasonal pools fill with winter rains. What little water there was no doubt tasted awful with more than enough dissolved mineral content to turn my stomach.

Lugging five liters of fluids up the canyon on three hours of sleep, powered by minimal and rapidly waning interest, quickly became intolerable after a mere mile and a half up the trailless, bushy creek bed. And so after but a mere 3.5 miles, 2 on trail and 1.5 off, I laid down for a rest under a boulder and promptly fell asleep. I woke sometime later to slowly mosey on back to my truck after standing in the creek and debating back and forth whether to continue upstream. I really didn’t want to, but I also knew I’d really regret it later if I turned around. I took two more short naps on my way back. Seven slowly trod miles round trip and I was done for the day and sitting in my truck with four hours of light left, not wanting to leave the woods but with no motivation to do much of anything.

I’ll return in spring with, hopefully, more water in the creek and certainly cooler weather. Maybe spend a night and have a bit more time to take a closer look around rather than push a long and exhausting one day’s quick passing glance. Maybe I’ll have a story of the trip next year sometime. Then again, perhaps this project will fall further down the long list of to-dos and won’t resurface for sometime to come. So many miles, so little time.

Might be a nice place to camp under the big oak tree on the right on the flat beside the creek.

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7 Responses to Lazy Day in the Hills: A Canyon Hike Called Off

  1. Cynthia says:

    I’ve commented before, Jack, but I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It is so clearly a labor of love, and I am sure there are many folks out here, like myself, who appreciate it deeply. Thank you again for your knowledge, the respect you have for history and the natural world, and your generous sharing.

    • Jack Elliott says:

      Hello Cynthia. I recall your name as a commenter. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment here! I appreciate your kind words. I put this stuff out there and, for the most part, have no idea how it is seen or thought of by people who see it. It’s nice to hear some positive feedback. I’m happy to hear how much you like it.

  2. Michelle Bridget says:

    Great Images, Inspiring!

  3. EMW says:

    We’ve all been there, Jack. Perhaps I shouldn’t presume to speak for “all.” I’ve been there. It was the time known as “the 1990s.” I was not properly motivated in that decade. Fortunately I got better and regained the attitude I had in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It helps greatly to have your blog to maintain my motivation. This is a great public service you provide.

  4. Hey Jack: Put that one off and join me at Convict Lake instead. Steve Schlah

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