Bryan route finding off-trail in Sespe Wilderness.
“I came to know that country, not in the way a traveler knows the landmarks he sees in the distance, but more truly and intimately, in every season, from a thousand points of view.”
—N. Scott Momaday, The Way To Rainy Mountain (1976)
“If I think about one lifetime, maybe we have eighty years if we’re lucky. That’s not many seasons to be out. If we only come out during one season we’ve missed out on three quarters of a lifetime.”
I have heard talk of a “hiking season” in the southern Los Padres National Forest, as if walking is akin to hunting and only legally permitted for a short time during a select period of each year.
The reasoning, I presume, is that summertime temperatures in the backcountry tend to be hot, in the nineties and upwards of one hundred. The land and creeks and rivers are dry or stagnant. The forest is swarming with pesky nostril and eyeball loving flies and campfires are prohibited. These conditions differ greatly from spring when the streams tend to flow, the temperatures are mild, the flies have yet to emerge and a rippin’ good fire can be freely kindled.
Self imposed limitations, however, necessarily result in limited experiences, and in turn a narrow understanding of the land, its plants and animals. It may also, perhaps, result in a more limited appreciation for the forest than might otherwise be afforded the person who visits the woods during all seasons and conditions.
Cedar Creek Trail, Sespe Wilderness
A mountain field carpeted in poppies and lupine for a few weeks during the mild temperatures of April is a remarkable sight, but it is all the more striking and incredible when one knows what the field looks like in August during 100 degree heat. (Seasonal Change In Wildflower Fields of Figueroa Mountain)
The dynamic and lively sound of a rushing creek filling a canyon is likely not appreciated as much by those who have never heard the same canyon dead silent during late summer when the creek has gone dry.
I wish to know the forest and everything there within during all seasons, when it’s hot and when it’s cold, when it’s dry and when it’s wet or frozen, when skies are blue and when they are cloudy, when it is not raining and again when it is pouring, when the days are long and when they are short, when the shadows are long in early morning and late afternoon and when they are short at midday.
For during each span of time a world of difference can be found resulting in a greatly varied collection of experiences which all hold in themselves their own unmatched value, and when the various pieces are combined the puzzle is put together and the picture complete.
The Cuyama Badlands. One of the wildest and least trod stretches of land in all the southern Los Padres National Forest.
And then there are the moonless and fullmoon nights in all those seasons as well…….
Indeed! That I did forget to mention. I’ve had some great hikes at night. Thanks for the reminder.
Thank you. Your posts are truly informative and well written. They are A vicarious ttrip for an eighty six year old through one’s beloved Caliornia wilderness, ( more imagined than experienced).
Pat, thank you for your comment. I appreciate hearing from you! It’s good to know you’re out there.
I called the LPNF ranger’s office when I first moved to the area and asked about access and places to backpack. She recommended I stay in the front country and wait until November to go deep. Needless to say, I did not heed her advice, and I had a great time.
enjoy your posts very much, Jack, and I’ve loved full-moon hikes up the dirt road to McKinley Spring en route to West Big Pine, DrDan
That photo of The Badlands from above is superb!
You’re absolutely right what you say about there shouldn’t really be ‘a season’ for hiking but we should get out in all seasons if we can.
jack, your column “Hiking in every season …” is articulate and well said. What say you I reprint it in the upcoming Condor Call with the photo of Bryan? (If okay with pic, where was it taken? And I’d need a higher rez version) lemme know Condor john