Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 295: Horn Canyon Trail to the Pines!

Chef Boy R Ayden at Pines Camp

Day 295: Monday September 5, 2011
Labor Day Special!
Horn Canyon Trail to the Pines
Total Distance Today: 5.0 miles  +1800 feet
Hiking: Ojai, CA
Difficulty: Tuff for dogs and kids, especially in the heat, but we made it!

From Ventura, you can take the scenic way like I did.  Take the 126 East to Santa Paula and exit on 10th Street, Route 150.  Follow the 150 all the way out of Santa Paula, past upper Ojai and then down the great hill.  At the bottom of the hill, turn right on Carne and follow this street all the way up and around when it becomes Thacher Rd.  At the end of Thacher, before it turns to the right, turn left into Thacher School.  This route is approximately 30 miles from the east end of Ventura but if you haven't traveled it before, it's a nice scenic ride.  Only about 20 miles from the west end of Ventura, you can take the 33 past Ojai and then continue straight onto the 150.  Pass downtown Ojai and then turn left on Carne and follow the same directions as above.  Once in Thacher, make an immediate right and then stay right and follow that around until you see the dirt cut off road on your right...

 Upper Ojai from the 150

 From the hill before the decent

 All of the peaks that I have climbed

 The dirt road in Thacher

I last did this hike during the rainy season, long before I ever though of hiking for 1000 consecutive days.  This road becomes impassible unless you have a very high clearance vehicle.  Often in the winter, the mountain tops will snow cap and all of the melting snow funnels down the creek in the road.  However, today it was bone dry, not even a drip of water here.  If you cannot drive past in the winter, prepare to get wet and wade the roaring water.  I did it then and would have done it again.  The actual trailhead is only an eight of a mile down the road...

 Horm Canyon Trailhead

 Several small water crossings 
(you won't get wet unless you want to in the summer months)

 Be prepared for constant uphill under the sun

 nicest and last shady water crossing before the torture

 Switchbacks, no shade, no problem for Ayden

 Hazy day, but you can make out Lake Casitas in the upper right

If you look close, above Ayden's head to the right, you will notice a patch of green pines.  This is Pines Camp.  The ground is hot and my Golden is constantly looking for shade.  +1800 feet in just 2.5 miles will be a challenge for most; except for Ayden and I :)

 Finally, entering the Pines!

 What a relief; take a load off...

 Water for horses, or dogs...

 Great place to camp

 2nd fire pit overlooking it all

 After sausages, Ayden enjoys his smores

So, when I came up here last it was with my buddy Redel.  We left on a sunny afternoon in the winter months but were informed there was weather coming.  The creeks were full from previous rains and it was impossible not to get wet.  When we reached the Pines, there were several snow drifts left over but we decided to go higher.  The elevation here is about 3250 feet, very roughly.  Then, we hiked up about another thousand feet en route for Nordoff Peak.  Mind you, we were wearing our heavy overnight packs and at 4000 feet, the snow became knee deep.  We tried to mush through it but then it became evident that the system was quickly approaching.  Thus, we turned back and camped at Pines.  We put up our tents and started the fire just before the rains came.  And did they come.  The mountain was alive with 60+mph winds.  No exaggeration!  We called it an early night and within an hour, Redel's tent blew away with him still in it!  No joke!  He was howling and screaming at the mountain.  The rains were sideways and wicked and the wind was the scariest of all.  As you can tell by the picks, you are just off the ledge of the mountain; and the mountain will be heard.  In fact, on this clear labor Day, a small gust of wind howled at 5mph and reminded me of the nature.

Redel and I got thru that night, but barely.  With a fresh 7-year-old Domino in the middle, I allowed Mike to stay in my tent.  NO, No Broke Back Mountain you fools.  I am married and love woman only...

***Ayden and I had a great time today.  Perfect day off work.  This is how Labor Day is intended.  Also, after a 9 mile hard run yesterday, the near 2000 feet in elevation felt great, really!  Sammi on the other hand had it ruff.  Every 50 feet or so she was running by and into the brush to escape the heat.  Her pads are slightly burnt, yet that didn't stop her around dinner time back at the house when I was doing yard work.  Yup, my temporary crippled dog escaped the fence and ran up the hill.  If that wasn't enough, my revitalized Domino did the same.  Yes, Domino!  She is doing much better.  She has a spurt of youth left in her...
Time to head back; race you to the bottom...

**For such a nice day, we didn't see many people here.  However, passing the Punch Bowls in Santa Paula, cars were parked all over the 150 for that experience.  I was last there a couple years ago for an overnight with many of the dudes from work.  Crazy experience and I will return in this lifetime to write about it.  --On the Horn Trail, Ayden and I saw an old man with a long gray beard march up the mountain with a walking stick and bare feet.  Really?!  We also saw another old man soaking in the cold water beneath a gentle trickle.  Looked refreshing, but strange.  Hmm, are those guys me 30 years from now???


  1. Glad to hear the barefoot guy is still at it. Love the new benches at The Pines; the sawyers removed some problem Coulters and planked them for use around the site. Awesome.

  2. I'm glad you liked it. This is a great place for locals to camp at. I would suggest doing this in the cooler winter months...




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