Sierra Club Hike Before the Mudslide

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Sierra Club Hike Before the Mudslide
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By Robert Bernstein

What a wonderful group we had for January 7th's Sierra Club hike! Energetic, friendly, upbeat people from around the world!

Here are all my photos!

Special thanks to UCSB Geography visiting professor Danlu for bringing her fellow UCSB Geography friends Shiwei, Caixia and Pengpeng on the hike!

We had new hiker Paula from Spain and my friend Irene from France. And regular hiking fan Esperanza, originally from Mexico.

Many trails and hikes have been impacted by the Thomas Fire. Fortunately, this hike was spared.

This hike was longer and more strenuous than most of my Sierra Club hikes, but less so than my Mission Ridge hike. It was all on actual trails, which is unusual for my hikes!

Most of the hike was on the Rattlesnake Trail. Because so many other trails were closed, a lot of people were on this trail.

Soon after we started up the trail we came to the Cookie Monster Rock!

The rock was well decorated with "teeth" and "eyes".

There are still burned remnants from the intersection of the Tea Fire and the Jesusita Fire

This was before the latest storm, but there was still some water in the creek crossings

Some of us wisely asked for a hand

It was a warm, beautiful day, but fog blanketed the area below

Toyon berries were quite abundant. They are edible, but they don't taste very good

Everyone was in good spirits hiking up!

We encountered my music teacher Nancy Roman (R in photo below) who was already coming down from hiking to the dry waterfall on the Tunnel Trail. I highly recommend her Recorder Class through the new SBCC School of Extended Learning. And it is free!

After a bit more than an hour we reached the Meadow which is the end point for most Rattlesnake Canyon hikers:

We found a shady spot at the top of the Meadow to rest a bit before continuing on

We soon encountered a beautiful sight: A large swarm of lady bugs!

I have seen this in other places, but usually closer to water.

More climbing, sometimes steep, and nice views

We started to see paragliders above us

And we spotted our destination: Gibraltar Rock

Some creative people had made some unusual "ducks" along the trail

We finally reached Gibraltar Road two hours after we started the hike. A spectacular view greeted us there, with the blanket of fog below.

From there, it was a fairly short walk up the road to get to Gibraltar Rock

It is common to see rock climbers on Gibraltar Rock. But this time we saw them along the road!

Just before we got to Gibraltar Rock we saw a small burned area on the downhill side of the road

And a much larger burn area on the uphill side of the road. I still don't understand how this fire started during the time the Thomas Fire was raging?

We spotted a young couple already on top of Gibraltar Rock

And a couple of beautiful manzanita trees near the base of the rock

Then we climbed up the rock. Steep, but short and fairly easy

Danlu was just behind me

For some reason, Audrey Hepburn was there to greet us

We posed for some photos, of course!

Paula sat on a rock and noticed by sheer coincidence the rock already had her name on it!

Far below we could see the Meadow where we had rested

Fellow Sierra Club hiker Yuri met us up there in his crash test dummy outfit!

Paragliders and hang gliders were having a great day with the warm air updrafts

My friend Irene Revenko is a paraglider teacher

The mountain top seemed to sprout wings, too!

After a long lunch and resting on the top we made our way down Gibraltar Rock

We could see the top of Rattlesnake Trail

Here was a view up the canyon with Mission Ridge on the left. The Tunnel Connector Trail runs up the bottom of this canyon

We headed back down the upper Rattlesnake Trail

Many of the lady bugs were right where we left them

We got back to the shady spot at the top of the Meadow for another rest

And not just rest...

Below the Meadow we took a primitive trail back which is a bit steeper and more rugged

With some sharp dropoffs and lush vegetation

This route offers what used to be a water trough for horses

Also a cave

Some final nice bits of nature

and back to the road!

The total elevation gain was about 1800 feet, which is about twice the climb to the Meadow. But the Gibraltar Rock experience is very beautiful and worth the effort!

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sbrobert Jan 31, 2018 08:41 AM
Sierra Club Hike Before the Mudslide

Thank you all for the very kind words. It was such a beautiful day. With such a delightful group of people. Alan Rose warned us on KEYT that a disaster was about to descend on us. But we were enjoying the calm before the storm!

Yes, OCEANDREW. Glad that you caught the irony of being out in nature and seeing the smartphone addiction. I may be one of the last people on Earth who has not given in to owning one.

Best wishes,
Robert

kantanen Jan 30, 2018 09:12 AM
Sierra Club Hike Before the Mudslide

Your pictures are always sensational Robert - it's what you do - and well....
Thanks for capturing the essence of a beautiful hike to share with us

oceandrew Jan 30, 2018 08:27 AM
Sierra Club Hike Before the Mudslide

Ironic photo of the rest stop. What did people do before smartphones? It's impossible to imagine. Fun photos, Robert. Thanks for sharing.

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