Saturday, August 19, 2017

2017/8/19 Cañada De La Vina, SYVR

We rode the fish trail !
Once again the Santa Ynez Valley Riders were privileged to explore one of the great historic local ranches. Cañada De La Vina is an old Spanish Land Grant property of some 3,000 acres, purchased in the 1800's by the Cooper family, and now remains the last of the similar ranches still remaining in the original family hands. It almost borders the Santa Ynez River, and remains essentially untouched by civilization.
Our hostess Shirley grew up on the ranch, and her father remained living on it well into his 90's. Now she and her grandsons run cattle on it, black Angus crosses, and there are still extensive walnut orchards. The entire ranch is spring-fed, with slant wells that feed 4 1,500 gallon water tanks and troughs for the cattle.
So at her gracious invitation 24 members of the club convened and went for a stroll.
As the map above shows we first ascended a ridge and tracked along through lush forest, then followed steep switchbacks that form the fish's tail in the trail, then followed another ridge up and back down to the pens and gathering area where many of us shared lunch and good conversation before it was time to return to the real world so close by.
If you're not the lead mule, the view is always a horse's ass. But Tobe Mule and I were so happy to be back on the trail, after 2 months off for a hoof abscess he had, that we just wanted to be out in nature in good company.

Fortunately on what was proving to be a hot day the trail was shaded by old growth oaks.

Many of the oaks were hung heavy with Spanish moss.

Our hostess told us that during the recent drought they would go out and gather moss for the cattle to eat, since there was so little pasturage.

Even now, in August, the grass is toasted away to mere stalks, a mere memory of how lush they must have been this winter.

The open areas sported a magenta pink flower in abundance, and the ever popular poison oak, in its bright red fall coloration. Tobe Mule thinks that poison oak is tasty, and he did his part to snatch and devour bits of it that were growing into the trail, clearing the way for humans who might be allergic.

The forests are filled with twisted oaks, true survivors, searching upwards for their measure of sun.

They reminded me of this quote from Ram Dass:

 And then we came out onto a ridge with a view,
and a sense of how big and how classically beautiful this wonderful place is.
I once read in a magazine the phrase
"This is the California that people came here for."
That resonates for me when I see untouched wildness like this.
We did see one sign of human habitation, the remains of a cabin built 100 years ago by a man who ran sheep on the property. It even sports an outhouse in the field on the left.
The gnarled trees and the dappled light, shadows spangled with golden sun, and the slow 2.7mph pace of walking equines, form an endlessly fascinating panorama of nature. It is as 3D as anyone could ever wish, nourishing to the soul to encounter.
 Then once again we doubled back, now tracing the fish's tail in the map, and climbed out into switchbacks on the steep chaparral hillsides. Looking down the canyon the ranches bordering the river are just barely visible. Many of them have been converted to world-class wineries, and guests coming to their tasting rooms constitute most of the traffic on the local roads.

And we wended our way through more forest and back to our starting point.
4.23 miles in 1.5 hours
No one's animal ran amok, and no one fell off into poison oak.
A lovely time was had by all.

                                             "Leaflets three, leave it be."
                   The bright beauty of the Toxicodendron diversilobum, poison oak.

"If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream."           -    Edward Abbey

                                                               #  FIN  #