Thursday, June 23, 2011

DAY 219: Lost in the Rancho Conejo Open Space

Snake patiently waiting in the middle of the trail; again!

DAY 219: Lost in the Rancho Conejo Open Space
DateTuesday June 21, 2011
Miles: 6.0
Elevation Gain500 Feet
Time2.25 hours
Difficulty: You must have your wit's to figure out where to go.  Don't lose your sense of direction otherwise you will end up like me...
Reward: Very few venture out in these parts to enjoy this untouched natural beauty.  You may see the occasional biker or guy walking his dog but chances are you will wander about alone.  Admire the rock formation and the peace of nature.  Don't let it get to you, after seeing a snake and wild fox, every bird movement will jolt you :)
Description: The single track trail is overgrown in places.  The purple flower prickly plant known as the Milk Thistle will grow knee high and leave its mark on you if you wear shorts.  Due to temperatures hovering over 80 degrees, exposed legs seemed to be the obvious choice. 
Where: Newbury Park, CA
Directions:From the 101 Freeway in Thousand Oaks, exit on Rancho Conejo Blvd and drive about 1.5 miles toward the Open Space.  Near the end, look for a company called Baxter on the right.  Pass the first entrance and then pull into the last parking entrance.  Pull all the way to the back and begin your journey.

GAME 2103:
My last visit from the Baxter Trailhead was:  Day 205: 400 Year-Old Oak Tree

I followed the same course down from Baxter.  Take a look at where I will be hiking.  Looks simple, right?:

On my way down the road, workers from the Treatment plant where driving up.  One guy stopped and forewarned me of a large rattler that scurried into the brush off the side of the road just 100 feet down from here.  Thanks for the warning!  I felt bad though because when the van attempted to regain momentum for the steep climb up, look at what happened:

He made it and i didn't see the rattler but in my mind, I'm already freaked out.  Another lonely hiking adventure and what's next?  I set forth on the single track trail and about a minute later, **the blog post picture!  Stupid snake stretched out across the entire trail!!!  This guy is just waiting for something to walk on by and then Pow, he gots you!  I threw a rock, he scurried into the bushes and then I darted past.  Along the main trail, slightly overgrown, there were a couple of split offs to the left.  I believe one of them is what John and i took the day that we hiked the Old Oak Tree.  Today, I just kept trekking forward.  I then came to a main sort of junction and I took it slightly right and then forward again.  A few moments later there was an obvious cut off down and to the right.  This will lead you to the creek:

Take the sandbag bridge across and then up.  The trail splits two ways.  I first went left and after a few minutes of good trail, I ventured near the road on a good path and then it just stopped.  I turned around and went back, bypassing the creek trail, I continued straight (right turn from the creek).  This immediately ended at a yellow gate for Hill Canyon Rd.  This was the first time that I had ever stepped foot on the road.  I glanced across the street and did not see any other trails, but... 

SEAL Treasures Game 2103:

The clue is; if you walk up to the gate and look right down the road, what Silver Shiny object do you see by the bend in the road.  Silly clue, but it will give you 10 points...

After that, I decided to head back across the creek back to the main trail.  I turned right and the trail merged onto a main trail towards Santa Rosa.

Awesome Rock Formation ahead!
All alone out here, about 25 feet in front of me was a dog; no, it was a large fox.  I snapped a photo:

Dude, there was a brief moment where he nearly stepped toward me, stared into my eyes, and then quickly turned out of sight.  This was a large than normal fox, harmless to humans, I think.  I continued forward for a long while and eventually, the trail ended up at the creek.  It was impassible unless I wanted to get drenched, which I did not.  The rock formations up close were amazing and the trail bordered a wooded forest for only a moment.  There were no other obvious alternate trails to take, so I went back.

Easier said than done, right?  Remember that merger from after the Seal Treasure.  Well, I figured that if I took the right fork back instead of the left fork that i came on, I would wind up in the same spot.  A few hundred feet later I crossed another trail, which I remember from before because there is a rusted sign post to the right leading higher (on my way in it was to the left).  So, I casually continued forward thinking that I was nearly back to the trailhead from the dirt road.  Ok... Still going...  This doesn't look familiar:

Old oak trees.  Hmm, somehow I ventured on the Old Oak Tree Trail.  Problem is, I didn't see the cut off to the abandoned car.  On the ground to the left was a couple of mufflers, or some kind of old car part.  I remember the metal objects from when I hiked with John.  There was a faint trail intersection leading to the right and the car parts marked the end of the path.  Oh, I know where that goes.  it goes straight up the hill and parallels the road.  I didn't feel like going through the short thistles so i kept forward.

Ok, there is no Abandoned Car Trail today!  I kept forward past the dry creek, across the field, thru the milk thistles anyway and then; nothing.  At the times, this trail was perfect and then it just ended.  I started getting hot, my water was nearly empty.  Where am I?  Ok, I hustled back the other way.  I passed the mufflers and now wasn't sure if that trail even led up to where I thought.  There are hilltops on either side of me, how do i go higher?  I ventured all the way back to the intersection with the rusted sign and then turned right. 

OMG, just 10 feet from where I was, The Trail!  It paralleled but was separated by thick.  Finally homeward bound.  Oops, remember the snake?  I was careless.  looking in front and back for fox or cat, and i stepped right on it!!  The snake was back in position and it went directly up my leg through my shorts.  I grunted, no, screamed like a girl and RAN!  No bite, OMG!  I escaped it and made it to the road.  Now I'm beat, exhausted!  Time to climb, up to the top of the hill and done...

I realize that the map I published a few weeks back needs some TLC.  The northern part of the Rancho Conejo Open Space has more stories than a couple of easy dots and slashes.  I glanced at Google and realized what I did.  It makes sense now.  I won't get lost again, right :)?  **I'll work on it some other time.  i still have a couple more outlets to hike down here before I can truly publish the map.  The good news is, I now know how I can scan it as a PDF and I will share a printable map with you once it's completed.  This was a long wordy post, my bad, but if you go here read it so you don't accidentally step on any snakes!

1 comment:

  1. Well, okay, this hike of your definitely qualifies as an adventure! Happy to see you've survived the snake encounter. . . .




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