acquired by the State of California, Department of Fish and Game with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The ranch is being developed as a center for ecological learning and the enjoyment of nature. It links the 250,000 acre Carrizo Plain National Monument with the 2,000,000 acre Los Padres National Forest, and hosts an extraordinary mosaic of habitat types and biological diversity. To read more about the organization that is managing the reserve click here: Chimineas Ranch Foundation.
Then finally it was time to saddle up Tobe and hit the trail.
But it could be harsh and unforgiving in the wrong conditions. In August 1979 the Spanish Ranch Fire claimed the lives of a fire crew from Nipomo who were dispatched to these mountains to fight a developing fire. The unpredictable winds that flow up and down the canyons, combined with the combustible grasses and dry brush, created a swift moving firestorm that overtook the firefighters as they tried to create a fire break line up the side of a hill.
Mule riders learn to interpret the language of the ears. In this case there is an irrigation pipeline in the brush to the right that caught his eye. At least that's what I THINK he is looking at, could be something I can't perceive. He's very alert. His right ear is turned back to me as I ask "What is it?" and his gaze is fixed focus ahead. With his enhanced eyesight he could be watching an animal on the slope across the canyon.
The Trail Boss said that the cave in the wall has always had water in it before but it was dry now. He said at the best of times the water never seemed drinkable, more like something dead bats had fallen in. Can you read the mule ears? They said "Don't THINK about us going over there to investigate." His nose is 3 feet long, mine is 3 inches, so sometimes I know he can smell things from very far away. I didn't think we needed to smell dead bats up close.
Then again, the Trail Boss did say that sometimes homesteaders would name a perfectly good water source something like Poison Spring to keep other people from wanting to horn in on their territory. After all, who is going to drink the water to test the truth of the name?
Just behind this ridge is "Dead Man Flat" which ought to be more accurately called "Dead Boy Flat" and is the scene of a sad story. A man stole some horses and brought them back to this canyon, and when he met up with a posse looking for them he told the pursuing "Coon Dogs" that the thief was just in the next canyon. The boy was his step-son, and he wanted him out of the picture so he could be alone with the mother. When the Coon Dog posse found the lad they strung him up and hung him from an oak tree. Only later was it discovered that the evil step-father was the real thief. Too late for frontier justice.
Title: Chimineas Ranch Track
Distance: 14.28 mi
Total Time: 5 hours 16 minutes
Moving Time: 3 hours 42 minutes
Stopped Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Moving Speed: 3.8 mph
Ascent: 1,513 ft
Min/Max Altitude: from 1,424 ft to 2,147 ft
Started: 1/10/15, 9:38 AM PST
Ended: 1/10/15, 2:54 PM PST