Altitude gain: 430 ft
Finally, we are headed back to the trails where we can be the Centaur Team!
This entrance to the Mesa has apparently just been opened back up, after years of neglect, so we opt to enter from a different place.
Looks promising, like a mighty machine has been through cutting back the underbrush.
Unfortunately this was an illusion, and not far past this point we started bashing through the dense bush that turned us back from the other side the LAST time we tried to ride here. This time we did get through, but scratched and whacked and not unscathed.
The back side of the SB Orchid Estate, acres of lath houses filled with orchids all growing outdoors in our fabulous climate.
Looking out across the Mesa, with the maritime fog blowing in obscuring the horizon.
I don't know why, when we climb mountain crags and tiny trails with impunity, the sight of the ocean churning below a cliff seems just so much father down!
I think back to my first riding lessons and the trainer saying "Don't look down! Where you look you will go." So it takes an act of will to hold Tobe posing on the cliffside and snap photos.
We are both happy to turn back inland and follow the salty trail.
Which winds back to yet more cliffside vistas, lost in the fog when the rest of the country is baking in summer heat waves.
Then we turn to the interior, a sea of sere grass, a nice place for a fast racking walk.
But there is the entrance to Hope Ranch, private gated community of equestrian estates. We DO know that trail access is ONLY permitted to those who are riding with residents, but we decide to play dumb and stroll on in.
Past estates of unimaginable wealth. This one has coils of black hose all down the hillside on the left, my guess is they are a solar-heating scheme for a pool.
Two lazy old Appaloosas live here, too busy eating to be bothered to greet visitors.
Two Lusitanos live here, the trails sneak past between estates and only the horses and the gardeners are home.
What a delight to see that this is ONLY a trail for equines! How relaxing it is not to dodge other sorts of fellow travelers.
Coming up to the top of Chalk Hill we look out over a canyon of estates toward the sea, where more fog is rolling in.
A shady path between two properties, nicely maintained by the Association's gardeners.
A view lot left fallow, overlooking the islands.
The olive orchard, home to two donkeys, adjacent the home of the woman who owns the local newspaper.
The old dairy barn and stables, now empty, owned by the newspaper Queen.
A gated property with its own lake, complete with rowboat and ducks. A bit Disney.
Costs nothing to LOOK! But, enough, we pop back out of the housing zone and return to the Mesa.
Where a bright hot summer day is in progress, and the animals are getting a bit tired and we humans are ready to head home.
We studiously avoid the overgrown trail where I got scratched up earlier, and follow the track home along the Atascadero Creek, now cemented into an urban channel with a bike path on the other side. All in all a lovely stroll on a classically pretty Stabarbacan summer day.