Very unusual weather, thunder booming in the distance, where a fierce lightning storm was putting on a display over the interior valleys. Heavy cloud cover, obscuring the islands off-coast and the tops of the mountains inland.
Length: 5.7 miles
Duration: 4 hours
Difficulty: Quite strenuous. Lots of single track with drop-offs into steep canyons, lots of water crossings even this late in the year. But the worst are the constant visible skid marks on the trails from the high speed mountain bike riders, who are forbidden but highly present. Hikers warned us of them and Mr Mule was ears-up alert whenever he saw or heard them.
Altitude gain: 1440 ft
View Buena Vista 9-10-11 in a larger map
Now at this point we start on the Buena Vista Trail, which will take us all the way up the side of the mountain. It gets significantly more narrow and rough, because we are now in the Los Padres National Forest and out of the area with houses.
Notice the ear position..... Tobe is alerting to something ahead, a hiker coming, or a wild animal perhaps.
Tobe lets me know that he is concerned about something, and a hiker comes by and tells us that two mountain bike riders are on the trail ahead. We proceed with great caution, not knowing which way they are headed.
Coming back down you can bet the animals were glad to see the stream flowing briskly and giving them a chance for a long cooling drink.
But, what's THAT? This is a perfect example of the alert system a mule uses. The rider who watches for clues gets a lot of data from those radar ears. In this case in the middle of drinking he went on alert and soon a set of hikers rounded the corner on the trail above.
Mirror mirror in the stream,
who is the handsomest mule in this dream?