San Ysidro Tank

A cave’s eye view of San Ysidro Canyon in the Santa Ynez Mountains; the Thomas Fire burn scar and initial regrowth evident.

Total rainfall county-wide for Santa Barbara measures in at 95% of normal so far this season. With the month of March still to come, which typically offers the potential for substantial rainfall, we should see that total rise well beyond the 100% level. This would be only the second time in the last eight years that we have received a full dose of rainfall if it happens.

San Ysidro Tank is a vernal pond that sits high atop a rocky ridge hundreds of feet above the creek, just behind San Ysidro Ranch, at the mouth of the canyon on the west side. In drought years it does not fill up and sometimes remains dry through several seasons.

The Tank will not be found on any mainstream maps, which hints at how little is conveyed on such otherwise admirable and necessary informative works of orientation and place that forest gadabouts depend on. There is a lot more to the forest than mere contour lines, major watercourses, names and campsites. This site is one of them; a place I stumbled upon myself years ago when out exploring off trail.

The canyon right now is aroar with the voice of San Ysidro Creek. The noise seems novel and amazing after so many years of droughty silence, the flow of water alluring and mesmerizing after a long absence.

Sitting and listening and watching the flow rushing from the Santa Ynez Mountains, entertained and amused and soothed by finally a good drenching of the forest, I wondered what a desert dweller must think when seeing a river or deep pools and large waterfalls for the first time. Such an experience must be like gazing over the vastness of the sea for the first time. It must be incredible. I don’t ever recall in my life being so appreciative of the forest having what is merely just a normal amount of water in it. Cheers!

San Ysidro Canyon a few days ago looking fairly well cleaned out a year after the Montecito Flash Flood that killed at least 21 people.

A similar view of San Ysidro Canyon in 2017 prior to the flash flood, when it was full of vegetal growth. This view here shows a point in the creek seen about center frame in the photo above, just as the creek bends leftward around the bedrock outcrop. The reason, specifically, for the close cropped view here was because any wider of an angle and all one could see was a riparian thicket, all of which was swept out and fed to the sea several miles down canyon.

The tank.

Exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands National Park can be enjoyed.

The alcove with a window view of the coast. A body can sit inside the shallow cave and peer out the window.

Looking south eastward over the pool toward Carpinteria.

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4 Responses to San Ysidro Tank

  1. Caves eye view is a sweet photo I really like that. Nice one Jack thanks for sharing

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re alive!

  3. andykeck says:

    I stumbled on this site while exploring a rock formation that caught my eye last time I hiked to San Ysidro Falls. Talk about hiding in plain sight!

    Judging from all the burnt manzanita, I can guess that this tank was pretty damn hard to get to before the fire.

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