Flores Peak Hike
By Robert Bernstein
Once again I led a Sierra Club hike from Gibraltar Rock to Flores Peak!
Here are my photos!
This was the second time leading this hike for me and for the Sierra Club! The Wednesday night hikers do this as part of a strenuous hike starting at the Rattlesnake trailhead. We made it easier and more pleasant. We carpooled to Gibraltar Rock, above the Rattlesnake Trail. We then hiked a steep, primitive, little-known trail to Flores Peak. The Wednesday hikers sometimes call this "The Medicine Circle". Elevation gain is about 700 feet in only a half mile! Short but very steep!
There was a red flag warning which affected parking only in Mission Canyon, but some people may have thought it affected this hike. As a result, we had just six people, but we had a good time! We had an energetic new hiker Arvin. And it was good to have Tatiana and Donnis back again! And City College Psychology Professor Spencer Sherman honored us with his presence. He is a very strong hiker, but he wanted to learn this new area.
Despite the red flag warning it was not too hot until we were heading down when it didn't matter much. At one point we could see four paragliders in the air at once. They were also enjoying the good weather!
The trail starts almost straight up on a trail of scree (loose, slippery stones)
But there are branches (some dead) to hold onto
I love the beauty of the manzanita trees growing out of the cracks in the rocks
We very soon stopped at a nice little rocky overlook
And then continued on up what quickly became a rocky trail. Steep, but more pleasant than the scree! Energetic new hiker Arvin led the way behind me
Then we got our first views of our destination, Flores Peak, which is at the right edge of this ridge
Below it is a beautifully complex pattern of rocks
As we got higher we had a spectacular view along the coast toward Carpinteria
And we paused for group photos there
The view straight out to the Santa Barbara Channel was also beautiful
One hiker opted to stop at this ridge below the final climb to Flores Peak. She got almost the same experience as the rest of us, but avoided the most steep and slippery part near the top.
Here is that last stretch of scree "trail" that we faced to get to the top
Tatiana wisely used poles on this section as did Donnis downhill behind her
I had no such assistance!
Here is a nice view back down to the ridge we just came up from
Here is the view west along the ridge at the top from Flores Peak
Looking east from the peak we were met by a set of cairns (stacks of stones). Not sure if they had any special meaning, but they were very artistic!
Of course we had to pose for another group photo at the summit!
Then more exploring along the ridge
At the end of the ridge we got a good view of Arlington Peak and Cathedral Peak in the distance
We could look west to the Lauro Reservoir and out to Campus Point at UCSB
We also saw quite a few paragliders enjoying the updrafts as the temperature rose. At first they were just specks in the distance
Then we got closer views
Here is one above what we call Rocky Pine Ridge and others call The Rock Garden
Here we saw one flying over the former convent
This little bowl seems to have been assembled by human hands
Famed City College Psychology Professor Spencer Sherman posed with me nearby
Arvin led the way down behind me on the steep scree with a reliable method: The butt slide
Others used that technique, too and it paid off with a safe landing below
As this turkey vulture watched from above
We stopped for lunch on that lower ridge with our feet dangling over the edge
Then back down the sometimes steep trail where the poles (and focused concentration) came in handy
As the road below came into view we spotted a bicyclist passing under us
We made it down that last steep scree bit with butts and hands
And were greeted by Noah's Ark!
Remember, the Sierra Club has at least four hikes each week! Here you can find one that is right for you!