A ride starting at the Oso Trailhead in Ojai, Southern California,
going up Rice Canyon, across to Wills Canyon, back down, then up the Ventura River bottom.
4.74 miles in 2 hours
Easy trails, well maintained by the Ojai Land Conservancy.
Ventura River Preserve, headed for a walk through the canyons. The sign explicitly forbids cocktails on the trails, and I agree with that!
Then next we have to run the gauntlet of signs.
I like it being a Fish Diversion.
That's what trail riding is for me.
I don't like that it says no horses, but since Tobe is half-ass we consider ourselves exempt.
And besides, we couldn't climb that fence anyway.
As far as I can tell this cement trough is what is known as a fish diversion, and doing a bit of internet research tells me it is the Robles Fish Passage meant to enhance endangered Southern California steelhead.
Seriously? As if there was a drop of water in it.
Online I learn: Robles diverts water into Lake Casitas from the Ventura River when enough flow is present. Historically, the facility also diverted steelhead smolt into the lake, while blocking upstream migration of adult fish. The fish passage facility was designed to solve these problems by screening diverted water and providing an artificial "ladder" over the diversion dam for migrating fish to swim upstream.
Looks pretty neat in the aerial photo I found online.
But right now from a mule's eye view it looks like one of the cement rivers in Los Angeles.
The trails are very well marked.
Whenever there is a place where trails cross they clearly tell you your options.
Cowboy Bob likes to know in advance where he is going, and follows along on a pre-loaded GPS map.
I only look at my GaiaGPS map afterwards to see where we went.
Dissimilar but compatible trail riding styles.
Then out of nowhere on the climb up Rice Canyon we met Rick Bisaccia and his Jack Russell terrier driving down the road. He is the Stewardship Director of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, so it was a wonderful opportunity to thank him in person for the work he oversees that makes this such a wonderful community asset.
Plus he spoke Dutch, so he and Cowboy Bob had a big palaver that was mysterious to me.
Shortly after that we met even more locals, these being of the bovine persuasion. They are so boring.
They were hanging out next to the water trough which if you enlarge the photo and squint you can see has scrawled on it COWS ONLY.
Like the tree house fort labeled
NO GIRLS ALLOWED
in the old Spanky and Our Gang films.
Did we care?
We left the steers to their sullen bunching,
as IF this was a very hot day.
Tell the cows in Texas about your problems!
75º and a light breeze.
Cowboy Bob is a lucky guy, he's got a girl who wants to go-go-go.
From here, wonderful views back into the Los Padres National Forest.
This interesting rock covered in lichens had cracked in place, perhaps in an earthquake?
It made a fine study in contrasts with the delicate dry grasses and chaparral bushes surrounding it.
And what a change once we entered the other canyon. Thick undergrowth of poison oak and massive trees providing shade.
In fact this is the fern grotto, lush and springtime green when the rest of the mountains are
already looking like a dry hot summer.
Dappled sunlight on a chocolate dappled mule, what could be better.
We glide along, quietly moving through the forest trees, and the birds take no notice of us and go about their lives.
We see nature without impacting it, and are at one with all we observe.
EXCEPT that once in a while I have to break the usual rule of no snacking on the trail and let Tobe munch up some of his very favorite: Poison Oak.
I know no hikers or others who will be passing through here will disagree with him trimming a bit of it back from the path.
This is the answer to the question "Why do you trail ride?"
Soon we were down to the bottom of the canyon, and it was time to track across the rocky zone again and get back to the trailhead.
This seemed to be a man-made rock reinforcement in a roadway, perhaps repairing erosion damage.
A dirt footpath was thoughtfully left on the side of it.
One more time across the river of rocks.
Another day well spent in the revitalizing natural world.
"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks." ~ John Muir