Thursday, April 26, 2012

Days 523 & 524: Camping on the Matilija Trail

Matilija Lake & Dam

Day #523 & 524 * Hike #601 & 602 * New Track #526 & 527
Saturday & Sunday April 21 & 22, 2012
Matilija Trail - Ojai, CA
Matilija Wilderness
My Tripometer: Overnight * 6.25 Miles * +650 Feet

My New Map of the Dick Smith and Matilija Wilderness
From Ojai, take the 33 North out of Ojai.  Set your tripometer after you pass the Fairview and La Luna intersection.  Proceed up the windy 33 for 3.4 miles and you will notice a street with a steep hill in front of you on the left side before the 33 winds right.  This is Matilija Canyon Road, turn left up the hill.  Follow Matilija all the way to the end and then park wherever you can.  This is a popular spot so normally there will be many cars parked there but you will be able to park on the side of the road if you cannot fit in the lot. 

The one downfall to this place is that cars have been broken into for many years.  Rumor has it that some stubborn property owners may be to blame because the initial trailhead walks through private property.  You are absolutely allowed to pass because trail easements have been granted for hikers.  More than likely teenagers from Ojai are vandalising the cars because the actual trailhead is reasonably close to town.

Matilija Lake, the picture at the top of this post, is located nearly immediately at the beginning of Matilija Canyon Road.  When Ayden was 2 years old, my wife and I parked on the side of the road and hiked down to the dam.  We were only out of the car for thirty minutes but when we came back her car window was completely shattered and Ayden's diaper bag was stolen.  All these thieves stole was some diapers and baby wipes.  Some people are just horrible and living without purpose.  If that is you then I don't want you reading my blog.  Otherwise, let's begin this hike!  

 0.6 miles up the road to the real trailhead

 Turn right on the Matilija Trail

 Bags packed for the overnight - Middle Camp was our goal

I rolled my ankle twice in the early going.  This is not good.  I heard some popping sounds but I neverlost stride and just stepped through it.  I felt it swelling but oh well.  I knew - I hoped it wasn't that bad and now it's just a little purple.  I suppose I am used to this by now - I so Clumsy!

 Lower Matilija Camp

So far so good.  It was a hot day outside, low 90's.  Much of the trail was shaded so that helped out a great deal.  There were Many water crossings.  The water was deeper and wider than normal due to the recent rains but it was totally manageable with a heavy pack.  That said, six-year-old Jacob needed some help crossing.

 A bit of elevation gain but no big deal


 The last stretch seemed long so this makes a good resting point

 Really Jacob?  We still have to hike!

 So they all jumped in with their shoes on!

 Across this creek leads to the switchbacks

At first we began huffing and puffing but a small section of trail was wiped out.  For most, no big deal.  In fact, 8-year-old Ayden was leading the way the entire time and he was across the 5 foot danger zone before I got there.  However, Jacob looked uneasy as 7-year-old Kaitlyn began to cross.  I said NO, we turn around.  Just before the cruel climb is a cozy little camp.  There is a gentle creek here for the kids to play in and since Ayden has a soccer game the next day, this would be a good place to camp.

 No Name Camp just 2.9 miles from the parking lot

 Kids play in the water, cool off

 Realizing that smoke can hurt your eyes

 Afternoon Smores!

 A toad in the creek

 Exploring for caves nearby, none found

 Back to camp for dinner

 One last swim before dusk

 Another round of Smores before bed

 It was a chilly night, back on the trail heading home...

 Examples of creek crossing

 It's awesome back here

 No complaints!

 Exploring off trail to create a new track for today

 Mission Complete, lets check down here

 Nice Spot!

This Nice Spot is only about a mile from the car.  It's before you reach the Lower Matilija Camp.  This would be perfect for families to take their kids on a short day hike.  --For me, between this quick cut off and river exploring, I increased the mileage but a mile today to satisfy the New Track requirements. 

 More creek walking

Peacocks at the trailhead

We even heard a Donkey make a scary loud noise as we were passing.  I never knew they could be so loud; it's ridiculous!  Well, this quick overnight is over.  This is only my 2nd camping trip since starting this 1000 Day Adventure.  Today's trip was much easier than Day 223-224: Willet Hot Springs

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