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Ventana wilderness from Arroyo Seco

  • Jan 19, 2013 · 12:00 PM
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Ventana Wilderness (Los Padres NF) looks good for winter travel this year: fire restrictions are lifted, no special pass required other than a regular campfire permit (which I should get next Friday, if everything works out).

Access point from Arroyo Seco offers several options, dependent on time available and the group preparedness. The franchise that runs the campground used to charge for parking even if you do not camp on their premises - I do not know if they still do it and what the fee is; used to be like $8/night. The campground is fairly close, about 2 hours drive from San Jose.

Suggest your time and the preferred route option: I'll try to accommodate everyone, on more than one trip if necessary. The place is good for as long as it is not too hot.

WARNING: this area is FULL of poison oak. Extreme caution and proper avoidance techniques must be exercised at all times, regardless whether you think being "immune" to this stuff or not.

***

Option 1: one-nighter. Take off early and hike ~2 miles by fire road to Willow Creek crossing; make a camp there (used to be an ad-hoc campsite at the creek bank). Spend the evening and next morning hanging around. Occasionally, some decent size trout can be seen in Arroyo Seco creek; if anyone wants to try, check fishing regulations for this area (I never did). Next day, walk back to the parking, possibly in the dusk: the road is broad and (relatively) level.

***

Option 2: 2-nighter. Same as Option 1, but make a long day hike on Day 2. The big plan is to make a loop to Willow Springs camp, then STEEP uphill to Tassajara Hot Springs, then back down by Horse Pasture trail. The total is ~10 miles **on a straight line** (could be twice as long counting switchbacks) and ~700' elevation gain. If we fail to get up early for this one, we can go for something less ambitious.

***

Option 3: 2-nighter. Same as Option 2, but try to make it to Tassajara camp the first day (+2 miles, relatively level trail). If we are giants, we could make another 2 miles up to Willow Springs camp. Both camps (used to) have established fire places. Then, instead of a loop, we could make an easier 2-nd day hike to Tassajara Springs and back (2 miles **on a straight line**, 600' elevation, from Willow Springs). Or, just hang around the camp, if we are lazy...

By my past memories, the trail stretch upstream from Tassajara camp wades the creek many times, can be quite wet this time of the year. The creek is full of fallen leaves... poison oak too, of course... Oops! Waders / water shoes would be VERY appropriate!

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  • Tom

    This is a wonderful area with good winter backpacking options. Beautiful scenery and fun hiking, with enough challenge for a good workout. Thanks to Alex for organizing.

    January 22, 2013

  • Alex

    Cool weather but warm and entertaining company. Very nice trip, even though "Tony Trail" to hot springs was impassable. Will go by Horse Pasture next time. This place is good for the rest of winter season, will be posted again - check the board often.

    January 22, 2013

  • Alex

    It's Friday, my crazy week with the visiting friendly team is over. Looking forward to our getaway, really need to relax. Still no word from Herb - have to assume, they are not going.

    So, see you tomorrow around noon; if lucky, we can get to Tassajara before dark (~2.5 hours fast pace from parking); if late or too tired, we'll camp at Arroyo crossing. Tom knows how to get to my place (797 Apple Ter). If something snags, call[masked] or e-mail.

    January 18, 2013

  • linda r.

    How far are we hiking Sat?. It is about 2 hours from my house to the campground. If you pick me up at around 11:30 we will get to Arroyo Seco around 2:30/3. That leaves about 3 hours of daylight.

    January 16, 2013

  • Tom

    I'm heading south from Oakland. Happy to drive/carpool, can stop in Fremont, just let me know.

    January 15, 2013

    • linda r.

      Sounds good to me. I'm just off 880. First Fremont exit 34173 Cromwell Place, Fremont [masked]-9995. What time

      January 15, 2013

    • Tom

      let's shoot for 11:15-11:30 Saturday, and then to Alex's place by noon, then on down to the trailhead

      January 16, 2013

  • Alex

    Lynn said, unable to attend this time.

    January 15, 2013

  • linda r.

    So we meet up at the camp ground at high noon. I did a meetup this summer - a hike up the river to the Gorge. I think we did pay.
    Anyone want to carpool. I'm in Fremont.

    January 13, 2013

    • Alex

      I am in South San Jose, conveniently close to 101. It makes sense to converge on my place around 10 am and carpool from here. Two other people who signed up with no date - they haven't confirmed yet, the group size is still uncertain.

      January 13, 2013

  • linda r.

    The dates, Sat, Jan 19 - Mon, Jan 21 work great for me. I also rather like option 3.

    January 9, 2013

    • Alex

      Good. Communicated offline with Tom - he was certain to join, too. So, there are already three of us. They say, three is a company :-)

      January 9, 2013

  • Alex

    Let's try Option 3 (2 nights) Fri-Mon Jan 19-21. Communication with me could be slow next week of 14-18: will be very busy at work and out of town on[masked]

    January 9, 2013

  • linda r.

    My weekends - Fridays - Mondays, are open thru the first weekend of Feb.

    January 8, 2013

  • Alex

    Just to clarify: I have plenty of vacation days, flexible work schedule, and go somewhere nearly every weekend. Suggest the dates that will work for YOU, so we can make a GROUP trip. Write your suggestions/preferences down here, in the comments.

    January 8, 2013

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