Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 781: West Fork Camp - Lion Canyon Trail - Rose Lion Connector Trail - MOUNTAIN LION!

Day #781 * Hike #981 New Track #767
Saturday January 5, 2013
West Fork Camp - Lion Canyon Trail - Ojai, California

Rose Lion Connector Trail - MOUNTAIN LION!
My Tripometer: 2.5 Hours * 5.25 Miles * +725 Feet


Follow the driving instructions from my earlier hike, Day 781: Rose Valley Falls.  This was our second hike of the day, and it was a good one!  From the parking area, follow the trail in front of your car, walk to the left and begin...

 Alwayd cool to see snow on the trail, even if it is just a dusting

 Cool area

 Sammi found an unmarked fire pit down there...

The first half mile or so of this hike is a gradual up hill.  The elevation is around 3500 feet and you will gain about 300 feet total before you begin heading back down.  We ran into another family who warned that they encountered a small mountain lion by these trees in the pic below:

They guy said that the cat growled at them.  He was walking with two young kids.  My concern is that I am with two dogs and they may begin to chase the feline.  Ayden was scared and I was prepared with a rock in one hand and I was looking for a durable stick for the other.  I never did find a worthy stick...

As we approached the sector, I shot this pic.  The trees looked like a good place to just hang out.  Instead, we walked tepidly to just get past this spot.  Keeping the dogs close and Ayden even closer, we walked past this spot with no siting.  HOWEVER!  I zoomed in on this pic from home just to see if I could possibly see something.  Take a look:

 Same pic, look at the tree on the right


Do you see it?  The cat is right there looming at me while I am taking a random picture.  I figured that the other family would have scared it off but I guess he stayed.  I'm surprised that my dogs did not sense it.  It doesn't look very big, but his head is about half the size of the width of the tree.  He appears curled up back there.  More about the cat later...

 Walking away from the danger zone

 Ah, refreshment for the dogs...

1.6 miles in, trail junction.  Turn Right...

If you go left here it's 1.3 miles to Middle Lion Camp.  I hiked from Middle Lion many years ago and passed this junction.  I remember it well.  It was part of a 30+ mile, three day hike with Domino.  We climbed up by Hines Peak which tops out at 6716 Feet.  From there, we lowered down to less than 3000 feet, visited the Willet Hot Springs Area and then finally hiked back by Piedra Blanca and then back up to my car.  This was a two night adventure, something that I would love to do again real soon!
 Following those familiar footsteps...

 It's a new track as far as these 1000 Days are concerned

 0.6 miles from the last junction, here we are

Last time I hiked past this junction to climb the Lion Canyon Trail to the tippy top.  Today, I turned right to visit West Fork Camp where the trail dead ends in 0.4 miles.  East Fork Camp on the left dead ends in 0.5 miles.  I figure that I will come back here some time to hike here from Middle Lion...

 West Fork Camp

 Running Water!

 How bout some lunch

 Chill Out with a stick...

It's always nice to hike in, find a great spot, light a fire and east lunch.  Today's trip defines what hiking is all about!  This really is a perfect spot for someone looking for an easy spot for an overnight trip.  The round trip is only 3.4 miles if you leave from Middle Lion and the elevation gain is very minimal...

 Hiking back, at the Fork Junction

 Passing the Mountain Lion Trees

Look at it, a perfect ambush.  You are forced to walk beneath the trees.  They should call this Mountain Lion Canyon.  I stopped by the trees and swear I saw a long tail trail into the trees.  I wasn't sure if I was just seeing things or what but after what I've seen from the film, I was only a few feet away from the cat.  Damn, I wish I got a better pic.  I should have just run into those trees, huh!


Nah, I forget why he did this but it wasn't a mountain lion...


Just before heading back to the car, we saw this open area to the right.  We walked by a fire pit and then...

 Sammi jumped into Upper Rose Lake

 She's not the most graceful swimmer

 Back to the car...

Driving out down Rose Valley Road...
Ah, but the day is not over yet.  One more to come...

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