Gaviota Caves Exploratory Adventure Sierra Club Hike
by Robert Bernstein
Many have been to the Gaviota Caves, but on rare occasion I lead a Sierra Club hike that extends the caves hike to further exploration. Here are my photos of my latest Sierra Club exploratory adventure hike out there!
It was Easter Sunday and it was also competing with a wildflower outing at the same time, so we had a small but enthusiastic group.
Here Linda and I posed at the first overlook. The ridge directly behind us, across the canyon, would be our challenging return route!
We saw many wildflowers in this area. Here is Golden Yarrow:
The first cave on the hike is one of my favorites. It is large and complex with multiple chambers
In the distance above we saw the famous Wind Cave with bright blue sky shining through
We briefly stopped at another cave on the way up. An inside view framed the landscape below
This family was leaving just as we arrived there
We met these friendly UCSB students as we approached the Wind Cave
Christian and Linda sat in the Wind Cave as I viewed them from below
After continuing on the trail past the wind cave we left the comfort of the trail to head down a ridge thick with chaparral, punctuated by occasional rock formations like this
When we stopped at that rock for lunch, Linda and I realized we each had some ticks walking on us. Here was one on my pants
It usually takes a day or two for ticks to attach themselves, so there was no harm done. We just brushed them off. And we encountered no more after that.
Meanwhile this majestic turkey vulture circled above us
It is hard to capture how thick the brush was, but this gives some idea!
Still, in most places there was a path or at least a way through. Probably kept open by animals.
The thick vegetation was brightened by occasional wildflowers. Like this Indian Pink
And this Prickly Phlox
And the bush-whacking was worth it when we got to the hidden caves at the lower end of that ridge
We encountered more than one of these inquisitive "blue belly" lizards (Western fence lizards) along the way
We picked up more than the usual amount of burrs from the vegetation in our boots and socks. In the future I would probably wear "gaiters" to protect against these intrusions.
And the final bit at the bottom of that ridge had poison oak. We did not get any, but it definitely took care to avoid. Always good to wear light weight long pants in this area!
If you check out the rest of my photos you will see what I am talking about!