MAR 13

Since I'm new to the California backpacking scene, I've struggled to find the best places to camp in SoCal. Scouring the web, I came across a Los Angeles Backpacking site that clued me into the Sespe Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest. And the place is big... 219,700 acres big. Add the fact that it has relatively warm temperatures in early spring, and it looked like a great choice for a weekend trip.

For this trip, my buddy Mike agreed to come. He isn't an experienced hiker and actually showed up with just flip flops. So after getting him some better shoes, we set out for the hour and mike crossing a streama half drive up to Ojai (pronounced oh-hi). Once we found the trail head, we were happy to see only a few cars in the parking lot.

Once we set off on the trip, we quickly realized that there were several stream crossings. The first thing that Mike did was walk straight into the water to cross. After explaining that wet feet are a bad idea, he then tried to cross the subsequent creeks by staying dry. Easier said then done, and he actually fell on the next three stream crossings. Me pulling out my camera every time he approached the water probably didn't help, but it was too funny to pass up.

After we made our way down the trail, I noticed a sign that told me the distance to the Sespe Hot Springs. Since that's not where we were trying to go, I realized we were off track. Looks like more opportunity for Mike to cross streams! We back tracked and realized where we went wrong.

Another mile down the trail, we came across the Piedra Blancas. They are a grouping of beautiful white rocks that roll across the landscape. We took some time to climb around on them and enjoy the view. While exploring, Mike suddenly exclaims "oh my god, there's a mountain lion in that bush!". His voice said he piedra blanca campsitewas dead serious and knowing that we were in mountain lion country, the hairs stood straight up on the back of my neck. Well, there wasn't a mountain lion. Not sure what Mike saw, but he effectively scared the living hell out of me.

It was long after that, we once again found ourselves lost. After backtracking a bit, we picked up the trail and continued on to the campsite. By the time we got to the first campsite, all of our extra hiking left us with little extra time so we decided to set up camp. It was a gorgeous little spot right along the river, with a fairly decently sized fire pit. We got a fire going and enjoyed the evening. As night fell, the temperatures started to drop. The coldest it got was probably around 35 degrees. Good thing I was snug in my sleeping bag!

The next day, we decided to leave our tent in place, hike up to thpine mountaine Pine Mountain Lodge campsite and then return to our spot. Before heading out though, a group of boy scouts passed by the site. They mentioned another group was behind them, but we didn't think anything about it. We grabbed one of the packs and headed out. The hike was nothing too exciting, hiking along the creek for the most part with a fairly gradual slope. As we progressed, it was clear the trail had not been hiked much this year, seeing as it was badly overgrown. There were portions where the trail wasn't vi sable from a couple of feet away.

As we got closer to Pine Mountain, we actually encountered snow. I wasn't really expecting it so it was a nice surprise. It was a beautiful day and the temperature was around 60 degrees so all in all, it was perfect. Since Pine Mountain is one of the sunset at sespehigher points in the area, once we got to the top, we were greeted by some great 360 degree views. We hung out for the better part of an hour, enjoying a light lunch. Then it was time to head back to the camp. Based on the time, we decided we would go ahead and pack up and head home instead of staying another night.

After getting back to our camp, we quickly noticed we had visitors. The second group of boy scouts decided they weren't going any further and dropped camp on our doorstep. So there were now ten new tents in our area. We quickly packed up and were glad that we already decided we were taking off. We had about an hour of light left, which proved to be the perfect amount of light to get out of the park. As we got to the car, the sun just started to set. The perfect way to cap off an enjoyable trip.


Type: Out-and-back
Campfires: OK
Trailhead: Google
Trail Map: link
Vertical Profile: link

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