Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun! title=
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!
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by Robert Bernstein

What a delightful group of nine for our wonderful Playground hike on Sunday!

Here are my many photos and a video!

Hike regular Ananda brought Matthew along and they dared to go places beyond my comfort level! We had several other new energetic and eager hikers: Jim, Liz, Kathy, Jonathan, Steve and Beverly!

A highlight of the hike was Liz picking up a baby gopher snake and posing for some photos and a video! Here is the short video:

UCSB herpetologist Sam Sweet kindly identified the gopher snake as a regional variety sometimes called the San Diego Gopher Snake. He said it was about a year old. Here is more information about this snake that is harmless to humans but is good at eating lots of rodents.

One thing that made this hike unusual was the thick fog we were immersed in about half the time. When we entered the Playground there was no way to see more than a few feet at a time. That made it impossible to give my usual orientation. It also made it a bit of a challenge to find my way! I was able to fulfill my promise "we will get lost"!

Here was a foggy moment where Ananda and Matthew ventured to the "bird's nest" at the bottom of the Playground as the rest of us ate lunch. At times they completely disappeared in the fog

I started the hike by having everyone climb onto a spot that is an overlook of the whole Playground. This involves a crawl and then a rock climb that is a bit of a challenge. This is important to be sure everyone is up for what lies ahead. This time everyone passed the crawl and climb with no problem! Here Kathy led the way behind me

A photo opportunity I always like to offer early in the hike is a chance to "hold up" the "Atlas Rock". Here French Festival creator Steve Hoegerman did it with just one finger!

The Cave in the middle of The Playground has many chambers. Sometimes we see bats, but this time we saw none. Here we posed in the largest chamber

Exiting The Cave requires a tight squeeze. Ananda and Matthew paused at the exit for a photo

The Narrows is perhaps the most famous part of The Playground and is one of the hardest parts to find. Here Liz paused in a wider section of The Narrows

The final section of The Narrows requires a serious squeeze and a drop at the same time. Kathy was all smiles as she made the squeeze!

We saw many wildflowers on this hike. Here we saw the succulent Dudleya in bloom near the bottom of The Narrows

Quite a few sticky monkey flowers like these all around The Playground

And an abundance of blooming bush poppies!

Here the fog broke for a nice view down to Goleta and the Airport with Liz, Kathy, Jim, Steve and Beverly

Heading back along the top ridge has its challenges and offers dramatic views. The Cube Rock looks like something ominously placed there by space aliens

After that we took our last break in a cave that looks tiny from the outside, but can hold even the largest group I have brought on this hike

Near where Liz picked up the baby gopher snake I spotted this baby rattlesnake all coiled up. It was not bothering anyone. Folklore claims the babies are more dangerous than the adults, but a search indicates this is probably not true. Best to avoid being bitten by young or old! Always watch where you are going. And always look before you place your hand when climbing on rocks!

On the walk out from The Playground, Beverly (who is a Channel Islands naturalist) demonstrated the spores on the back of this fern. By making an imprint on her pants leg.

Beverly also identified this mysterious cluster of fruits. They are the fruit of the manzanita. Indeed, they are "little apples". But I had never seen them clustered together like this. Usually they are randomly scattered all over the plants.

Here was our parting view from The Playground during a nice break in the fog! You can see the top area of The Playground that most people know and love. For me, the most fun parts are the hidden parts below!

Here you can see all of the upcoming Sierra Club hike listings.


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Shasta Guy May 12, 2019 07:54 PM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Robert, l just sent in my photo of the Geocache. Hopefully it will get posted or sent on to you by email. Let me know if you have any questions. Shasta Guy.

sbrobert May 12, 2019 10:31 PM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

SHASTA GUY posted where? Yes, it would be great if you could email me. At the very bottom of each of my photo sets it shows my email address. In this case it would be at the bottom of

sbrobert May 11, 2019 12:51 PM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

I asked UCSB herpetologist Dr Sam Sweet about the claim of rattlesnake age and venom. Below was his full answer.
There is no 'rule' about age and attitude in rattlesnakes. Touchiness varies greatly with habitat -- snakes in woodland and chaparral are usually very hard to rile up, while those in grassland (like Carrizo) will often start rattling when a car goes by 50-80 feet away, and strike at anything as a first response. Young snakes have more predators and tend to escalate faster, especially if they have a meal in them and are thus somewhat constrained in crawling.

Shasta Guy May 10, 2019 11:00 AM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Robert: I have a photo of the geocache that I took May 2018. I can't upload it to Edhat until Sunday because a wonderful friend is taking my son and me on an overnight trip to Santa Cruz Island starting at noon today. I've never been sailing across the channel before, and I'm really excited. On second thought, I think I'll post all my photos from that trip to the Playground. One of our objectives was to figure out exactly where the entrance to the Narrows is. I have all the photos necessary to find the Narrows every time. Also, we went way past the Playground to that rock formation that always seems too far to get to. From there I have a photo looking up at the Playground from a completely different perspective.

sbrobert May 10, 2019 10:36 AM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Thank you all for the kind words. Yes, it was a very happy group. It is one of my favorite places, too! SHASTA GUY and EAST BEACH: When and where did you last see the geocache? It has been awhile since I last saw any. There used to be one quite visible where we had lunch at the bottom of the Narrows. And we also found one more recently near the bottom of the cave. But we did not see either of those this time.

EastBeach May 12, 2019 11:32 PM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Robert - we found that geocache about five years ago. I've not looked for it during the day. But I recall we exited the south end of the Narrows, went west perhaps a few hundred feet, then proceeded northwards back to the rock edifice we call The Guardian. I didn't create a waypoint for the geocache but suspect it was in the vicinity of N34 29.686 W119 51.189 against a west-facing wall. I may need to look for it again after the allergy season's over :)

NostraChumash May 10, 2019 08:01 AM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Baby rattlers have less control over how much venom they distribute, thus making them
"More dangerous than mature rattlers.

Shasta Guy May 09, 2019 10:27 PM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

Delightful photos of one of my favorite places! I recently made two trips there with my son. The first trip we made our way to what we call “Middle Earth” where the bay laurel grows up from the chasm. We found the ammo box register, but there was no working pen. The next time we went we put a pen in the ammo box. I love that place...except for all the graffiti that’s showing up there.

oceandrew May 11, 2019 11:10 AM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

I'm gutted to see the vandalism. WTF is the point? A dimwit way to leave one's mark on the world, I suppose.

EastBeach May 10, 2019 10:21 AM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

If the ammo box was near a rock wall facing west and contained "trinkets" then you found the geocache. We found that one at night with headlamps. Great fun!

a-1557446090 May 09, 2019 04:54 PM
Playground Sierra Club Hike Fun!

The caution of baby rattlers is that they have less control over how venom is delivered per bite, so one is more likely to receive a
"full load" from a young snake, whereas an adult has completel control & can deliver none if they myth.

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