Saturday, November 18, 2017

2017/11/18 Buena Vista Trail in Montecito with LPTR & MeetUp

Looking down at the Santa Barbara Harbor from the mountain ridge above Montecito.

Five riders took to the trails to achieve glorious views and give their animals a real workout.
We went 3 miles in a bit less than 2 hours, climbing 660' in altitude and conquering extremely rocky and technical trails. Slow going, but scenic and challenging.

Montecito is a land of great estates, fabulously wealthy and famous people living behind gates and walls.
Despite the danger of crowding their homes up into the forest, where fires periodically rage, these are the coveted acres.

To reach our trail head I traveled up this eucalyptus-lined street.

And one by one the trailers and riders and their trusty steeds arrived.

More than a dozen had RSVP'd, but then slowly schedules changed and animals injured themselves, so in the end there were but 5.

We began with the Buena Vista Trail.

Looking at the map above that is the straight shot up the canyon, and was extremely rocky. We're not talking gravel and pebbles, this is the bones of the earth causing the barefoot mule to go rock-hopping to get up the trail. And of course it is not just an ascent, it is up for a while, then descending into a crack and across a creek bed, then back up the other side.

I know, it looks like a smooth trail but it is not. These boulders are more like what it was made of, and it takes a smart mule or horse to carefully pick their way across the terrain.

But the horizon of the mountain above beckons.

In some places rocks have been blasted away to connect the trail through.

In other places the massive boulders loomed over us, with caves scooped out of them by eons of erosion.
For scale, look on the bottom right corner to see the riders, passing through a shady tunnel of tree branches.

These photos show an invasive plant that goes by the common name of Cape Ivy or German Ivy.
Delairea odorata.
It climbs up and smothers native chaparral plants, choking them and preventing them from getting the sunlight they need. It is relentless and increases the danger of wildfires moving swiftly through these canyons filled with dead brush beneath their canopy.
Once we got to the top of the canyon we turned West on the Edison Catway, a bulldozed road used by utility workers for power line maintenance.
I asked my riding companions to pose there.
From left: SP on a mule, KM on an Arabian, JM and CT on Rocky Mountain horses.
And of course, the Santa Barbara Harbor behind. The islands were just barely visible today.
The power lines make a convenient spot to rest and take a break, and contemplate the 200 miles of trails available in these mountains, so lightly used they seem a hidden treasure.

But then it was time to continue down the Catway,
me and my shadow
and my mule
flopping his ears and enjoying his outing.

Some of my favorite things about this landscape are the dramatic cliffs and boulders, breaking through the trees, showing the geography of the land.

After the Catway we turned left and started to descend on the San Ysidro Trail. 

 This is a popular hiking route and we met lots of people with their kids and dogs having a healthy afternoon.

This cactus was growing at the bottom edge of a steep rock face, having somehow found a way to take hold and cling to the sandstone and multiply.

At some seasons of the year this creek bed will have water, but now it is mostly defined by the riparian trees that send their roots deep down to thrive here.

We knew we were almost back to civilization when we saw this rustic fence.
Fashioned from gnarled chaparral branches it could almost be made of driftwood.

We turned left here to follow the Old Pueblo Trail back across to the trail head we had entered the trail system from.

At this point we are tracking along the back fences of the Great Estates. The smell of bar-b-que wafted up, and the sounds of parties on this lovely Fall day that felt like Indian Summer.

And just before we got back to our starting point we found this wind-sculpted rock with a dedication plaque to Peter Bakewell.

"For his energy and time to make our trails in the Montecito area the pleasant riding and hiking paths they are today."
Montecito Trails Foundation 1981.

So it was with appreciation and gratitude that we ended our ride. Thanks to the MTF, Montecito Trails Foundation, that keeps these trails maintained for the use of the community. To the LPTR, the Los Padres Trail Riders, who sponsored and organized this ride. To my MeetUp group, the Horse and Mule Trail Riders of the 805, that attracted riders who had not previously experienced this trail system to join us.

We will return, and hope to see more riders on the trails when we do.


Some trails are happy ones,
Others are blue.
It's the way you ride the trail that counts,
Here's a happy one for you.
Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smiling until then.
Who cares about the clouds when we're together?
Just sing a song, and bring the sunny weather.
Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
      - Roy Rogers & Dale Evans 
                                                                 ##### FIN  #######