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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 852: Big Caliente Hot Springs - Pendola Station - The Oasis - Upper Caliente - Caliente Trail - Diablo Canyon - Aqua Caliente Dam

The Oasis

Day #852 * Hike #1061 * New Track #832
Big Caliente Hot Springs - Santa Barbara, California
Pendola Station - The Oasis - Upper Caliente
Caliente Trail - Diablo Canyon - Aqua Caliente Dam
Sunday March 17, 2013 *** Happy St. Patty's Day!
My Tripometer: Long Day * 6 Miles * +400 Feet


 Rising above the marine layer...

Jameson Lake in the distance...

Directions:
Follow the driving instructions from Day 530: Jameson Lake - Juncal Dam.  These directions worked out great.  It's been nearly a year since my first visit overtop of Santa Barbara and I followed the driving route that I worked out to a T.  Perfecto!

For today's journey, continue past the Juncal Dam Trailhead.  The dirt road opens up through a field.  It's level and smooth and you can top speeds of 60 mph if you wish.  A few miles up, you will reach  this sign:

 Turn Right here and head to Big Caliente Hot Springs

 Pass this Dam on your left

 A hot tub in the middle of nowhere...

 Beneath the hot tub, just exploring

Big Caliente Hot Springs!

From the intersection of Gibralter and East Camino Cielo Road, this spot is 18.1 miles.  The sign at that intersection suggests that it is 17 miles.  No big deal.  The entire drive from the city of Santa Barbara should take you at least an hour.  It's a slow windy road, but Ayden and I went Yee-Hawing on our CRV, especially on the dirt road.  Overall, the road is in good shape but as always, be careful.

We sat around the tub and spoke to Doug and Jim, natives of this rich hidden land.  Ayden and I didn't soak in the tub because we were saving that for after the hike...

The Map - Caliente Trail to Upper Caliente

 Trailhead - 1867 Feet
 

Several hundred feet from the trailhead you will notice a couple of trails that head down into this creek.  They lead to the source of the hot springs.  The quick easy routes are in the forest covered area so if you reach the opening as seen in the pic above, you went too far.  Ayden and I will dip in the tubs on our way back...

 Follow the trail...

 Heading up and out of it...

 Follow the arrow...

 Pass the Aqua Caliente Dam -

 Wandering around the thin forest
(The trail is faint, but we managed to follow okay)

 Skipping Rocks

 Heading away from Diablo Canyon
(Cross the creek many times)

 Stay above the creek on the trail

 Ayden's getting tired...

 The Oasis is straight ahead...

 Ayden found a fire pit at the Oasis - 2088 Feet (2.1 miles from the car)
 
What an amazing discovery!!!  In the summer months, it gets darn hot out here.  The pool is deep and refreshing.  Ayden wanted to cook up our lunch here, but Doug and Jim told us there was a better spot about 100 yards beyond the waterfall.  So, we kept going...
 
 Try around by the left XXX Nope.  Too Hard!

 Back around to the right...

 Bingo!

 Very Easy...

 We made it...

 Keep Going...

 Looking Back...

 Looking Forward - Wow: A Whole New World!

 Climbed the hill, looking back again...

 Looking forward...

Okay, where is that spot they were talking about?  Hmm...  We walked over to the left where there were some trees and...

Upper Caliente Camp!!!

 Caliente Campsite - 2173 Feet
(Courtesy Lompoc Search Rescue)
 
 Chicken Sausage!


Warning!  I lit one match and the fire blazed up with little effort.  This area is highly flammable!  We kept a very close eye on this fire.  The Lompoc Search & Rescue left a shovel next to the sign and we used that to bury all the ash when we were done...

 Really, hiking further north?

 Yup!

 And the Trail Continues...

The map indicates that this trail continues approximately 2 miles further.  I was completely down but Ayden was like, I want to go bowling!  It passes through the fire zone and is said to dead end at 2507 feet of elevation.  There are other trails that lead much deeper into the San Rafael and Dick Smith Wilderness.  I'm struggling with my plans because to do them right, it will take multiple overnights.

Anyhow, after crossing the creek a few times, climbing another hill and hiking up another quarter mile from the campsite, we turned back.  It was a very easy hike back and...

 We relaxed in the Hot Springs

 Good Times!

 Source of water, high above on the cliff

 After Yee--Hawing up the dirt road, Santa Barbara became visible

 Gibralter Dam on the right side of this pic

 Gun Range

 Boom - Boom!

Rather than heading down Gibralter back into Santa Barbara/Montecito, we continued forward along the ridge of Camino Cielo Road.  We passed this crazy gun range.  People were shooting semi automatics.  It seemed disorderly and chaotic.  Being that it was St. Patty's Day, I must imagine that some folks were drinking.  Hmm, it wouldn't take much for someone to get crazy and turn their gun the wrong direction!  So, we got out of there quickly.  We passed Day 767: Knapps Castle and then drove down Painted Cave Road, passing Day 552: Painted Cave.

We drove down San Marcos Road, not Pass, into Golleta.  We made it just in time to bowl one game at Zodo's under the Glow.  We then bowled 5 more games each!  It's been years since I've bowled...


 Pressure on, We're tied but Ayden bowled a Strike...

 He took the lead but I beat him out in the 10th

There, that's more like it

In the fourth I rolled a gutter bowl but then cleaned it up with a spare, which is essentially a strike.  Thus, I bowled 7 strikes in this game but could only manage a 178!  Overall, I'll take it.  I was using a lane ball and it took me several games to remember how to bowl.  Must of all, Ayden had a great time.

What a great hike, best of 2013 I'd say!  Good Times...


Rewind:
Saturday Day 851 I drove back up to Calabasas and hiked to Calabasas Peak via the Secret Trail.  Essentially the same route as Friday's hike but today I ventured up several additional footpaths to secure a mile of new tracks...

I saw a snake!  First one of the season.  It was a slippery sucker so even if I had a camera, I doubt I would have been able to react in time.  It was only a Garter Snake.  I Googled Snake Images and confirmed it looked like : http://reptilesforus.com/blog.php?blog=garter-snakes-as-pet-7196

**Man, that snake was slippery fast.  Freaked me out for sure...

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