Gaviota Caves Sierra Club Hike
By Robert Bernstein
Thanks to everyone who showed up for the Gaviota Caves hike this past Saturday! The weather was absolutely perfect! It was clear and bright, and not hot or cold.
There was a range of energy and ability for the hike which we accommodated to everyone's liking. A few people stayed at the early caves and the rest of the group went all the way to the Lookout above the Gaviota Pass.
Someone has been doing a good job of trail maintenance. The connector over to the Lookout fire road sometimes gets overgrown. But it was all clear! The only issues we encountered: Some fallen trees on the Lookout road. And a bit of mud in a couple of places. No problem at all, really.
The hike began near the Gaviota Beach campground. We noticed that the campground was closed. This seems to happen if there has been a lot of rain.
The first challenge of this hike is climbing a very steep trail up from the paved access road
When this trail first opened about 20 years ago there were switchbacks. But hikers have cut straight uphill. The switchbacks were never very pleasant, either, because the trail was always on uneven ground that was not graded.
Our first stop was at the top of that hill for the beautiful overlook of Gaviota Pass and the canyon just below us
Even though it feels like winter lately, some flowers were in bloom. There were blue and white varieties of ceanothus. Here was the white variety
Some sage was starting to bloom, too
Turkey vultures seem to love this area and I was delighted to get this shot
Our second stop was the first cave, which is also the largest and most complex. It has several connected chambers
It looked as if Webb was buried chest high in vegetation! In fact, he was standing on the trail!
We soon got a view of the famous Wind Cave where two other hikers already were waiting with the clear blue sky beyond
It is a bit of a steep climb to the Wind Cave, so a few in our group opted to stay below. Here you can see Linda and Kazimir relaxing in the window of the Wind Cave!
Few hikers continue past the Wind Cave, but we went much further. There is a connector trail with beautiful oak trees, some draped with lichen
The connector took us to the Lookout above the Gaviota Tunnel. You can barely see this antenna up there if you are driving on Highway 101 near the rest areas near the Tunnel.
We took our lunch break on the edge of the cliff above the pass!
On the return hike we spotted lilies sprouting on the trail. This one was starting to bloom!
Be sure to check out the rest of the photos from this outing! At http://www.santabarbarahikes.c