Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gaviota Pipeline 9-15-11

I was in the mood to be away from civilization so we opted to ride in a state-owned property that borders the 101 Freeway right at the junction of Hwy 1. A huge pressurized natural gas pipeline runs across it, so I suspect it is not safe to build houses on and so is kept wild.

Length: 6.3 miles
Duration: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy. Some roads kept open for pipeline repair and access, and some trails through oak woods. The area closest to the freeway at the end of our ride was a bit treacherous, with several deep sinkholes in the trail, and undermined sections, and a LOT of overgrown brush that was painful to push through. Needs maintenance.
Altitude gain: 910 ft
Grade: I

View Gaviota Pipeline 9-15-11 in a larger map

 Vehicles must stop, and animals proceed. The road is apparently opened only for fire suppression or pipeline maintenance.
 The trail begins directly adjacent the Hwy 101 running through the mountains just inland from Gaviota beach.
 Half an hour North from Santa Barbara, and immediately it is like being transported back in time to the era when all these hills were parts of giant land grant Spanish ranches. Running cattle on them is still the only economic enterprise.
 The oak trees are particularly beautiful, the one in the distance a classic shape.
 And the close one's branches were decorated with a lacework of lichens.
 Topping the first rise we look East across a desert plain, a perspective not possible from any nearby roads.
 And turning to look West we see the coastal fog topping the ridge that lies between us and the sea.
 Tobe takes a breather, and contemplates this landscape perhaps reminiscent of the Kentucky of his youth.
 The extremely wealthy restricted community of Hollister Ranch borders this property, so we looked down at some new construction in progress.
 The mountains in the distance have a pastel glow, a reminder of how very much of this sort of hidden country there is to be explored.
 Much of this trail is very overgrown, such as this young oak tree in need of shaping and growing over into the path.
 And there is the pipeline, high pressure natural gas being transported form the coastline inland.
 Signs everywhere warn of the danger of digging.
 The smell of oaks and chaparral on a hot day is lovely, I wish that technology would hurry up and create the scratch-and-sniff illusion for computers!
 The multi-colored vegetative patterns of the chaparral are always a pleasure to watch change throughout the year. At the end of summer the grasses are all dry, and contrast sharply with the evergreen trees.
 In the midst of the oak forests the pipeline keeps reappearing, crossing canyons and then going back underground.
And then finally we come back to the beginning, the sounds of the freeway begin to intrude on the solitude of nature, and it is time to get back to real life.