Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Parma Park 8-2-11

A ride that began near the Sheffield Reservoir, and ambled through the reviving acres of Parma Park. In November 2009 this park and 2,000 acres and 210 homes ringing it were burned up, and now it is with pleasure that we see so many of the plants coming back to life.  With addresses in both Santa Barbara and Montecito, California, this is a neighborhood with fabulous estates and incredible views of the Channel Islands. A lovely summer day, trails a bit overgrown and needing reinforcement in many places.

Length: 3 miles
 Duration: 2 hoursDifficulty: Moderate. Trails single file, steep climbs, drop-offs and minimally reinforced trails, ankle deep water crossings.

Altitude gain: 420 ft 

Grade: II

View 8-2-11 Parma Park in a larger map

 We park in the neighborhood and stroll over to the entrance. It is with great pleasure that we note the sign that says NO bicycles. It makes the park so much safer for us.
 Entering the first field it is pretty much dried up grass in the hot summer sun. I never rode here before it burned, so i don't know what it used to look like.
 A beautiful century plant towers over us, putting up a beautiful spike of blooms.
 Looking across the 200 acre park, formerly a goat ranch. The Parma family came to the area in the 1870's, ran a grocery store downtown, and then 100 years later donated their still very-much-undeveloped land to the city for a nature preserve. It is the area's single largest undeveloped open space.
 Easy to see in the charcoaled branches of these oaks how devastating the Tea Fire was. But the trees are making a strong comeback.
 In the canyons that were somewhat protected from the fire oaks and sycamores are lush, and the water from Sycamore Creek and Coyote Creek nourish a great variety of plants.
 Tobe is always glad to seek a creek, even though typically he sees it as a salad bar more than a water source.
 Throughout the park areas are fenced off and flagged, showing the work of habitat restoration in progress.
 Looking out to sea the Channel Islands rise above a maritime layer of fog between the mainland and their shores. The near hillsides are abuzz with activity, craftspeople toiling to rebuild the estates that burned.
 Looking down-coast towards Los Angeles, where temperatures were over 100 degrees today, while we rode in 76 degrees and that was plenty hot enough.
 We do so appreciate that there are no bikes here. Mountain bikes hurtling down trails that have no visibility around corners and steep drop-offs is a recipe for disaster.
 Parma is A-OK with us!
 Turning back towards our start point we follow a trail that edges along high above the roadway. Here also the trees are largely burned wraiths, but their root systems are recovering.
 Collapsing bamboo railings and water diversion pipes mark an area that is especially treacherous in wet weather.
 The wild mustard is the dominant flower on this trip, growing with the anise that scents the air.
 Quite a bit of money was spent to set up a concrete mule/horse trough at a small parking lot. Tasty! Convenient! Appreciated!
 Tobe would actually always rather have living stream water, but on a very dry summer day this could be vital.
 Inexplicably this parking lot, with the trough, bar-b-q and picnic benches and room for many cars, was built and then permanently locked by a chained off road. So the ONLY way to utilize it is to walk in on foot or equine. Our tax dollars at work.
 More habitat restoration, lots of money has been put into making the park lovely. Truthfully in the times I have ridden here I seldom see anyone else on the property.
As we come back to the entrance we pass an opuntia cactus, with large red ripe fruits that are made into jellies and salsas. Tobe can eat almost as many things as a donkey or goat can, but just in case the cactus spines would be too much for him I didn't let him grab a taste of this. Time to head home and have an alfalfa dinner and rest up after this strenuous hot walk.