Sierra Club Playground Hike
By Robert Bernstein
Here are all my photos and a video clip from my recent Sierra Club hike to the Playground! Still catching up on posting hike photos!
Tony and Nick came all the way from Grover Beach and Morro Bay, respectively. Fred, Cloe and Christian were new on my hikes. Amber, Linda, Tatiana and Ananda were back for more fun and adventure!
Here we started through the brushy trail on our way to the Playground.
This looked like a dried flower arrangement
The trail is becoming a gulley in places
Tony was good at finding cool bits even before the rest of the group caught up
Here was the requisite group photo at the start of the actual Playground adventure
The Atlas rocks are another must photo op
The descent into the cave is always a bit other-worldly
No bat photos this time, but we did see one fly out ahead of us as we entered. No photos of that, sorry.
Here we posed in the highest cave chamber
Tony found a geocache wedged in a crevice in the cave. I must have passed that crevice 100 times without ever noticing it.
Fred and Cloe pose with the geocache as Tony looks on from behind
The geocache was filled with bits from 1998 and from this year and nothing in between!
Another photo op at the tight exit squeeze from the cave, starting with Tatiana
Amber and Cloe
Some manzanita fruits were ripe, but I am still not fond of the taste
More other-worldly rock forms near the entrance to the Narrows
As Fred poses above the actual entrance
Then comes the famous Narrows
Fred demonstrates his flexibility
We paused for lunch at the bottom of the Narrows
And Amber, Ananda, Fred, Tatiana, Tony and Nick ventured all the way down to the Bird's Nest while the rest of us relaxed in the shade. Ananda was first on the Bird's Nest as the others followed close behind
A turkey vulture circled above us waiting for something to die in the hot, dry conditions
We made our way up the steep rocks with Fred right behind me
These rocks rolled down to their current locations and became rounded in the process
Most of our group, including Linda, Tony and Amber in these photos did this scary bit with a steep dropoff on the side
Cloe wisely knew that was not for her and I took her around a different way
The rest of the group waited on top of and inside the "mushroom rock" in a striking pose!
Some delicate art survives in the mushroom cave, in contrast to the ugly paint vandalism in the Narrows
I struck a brief pose nearby
I think it was Tony who once again spotted something interesting: A complete shed snake skin
Then we all relaxed in the final cool cave
A few flowers bloomed in a fairly hostile environment
My "rule" for the Playground: Feel free to take on challenges that are beyond my comfort level. But also feel free to ask for guidance to find an easier way. Here Amber probes the limits of her comfort level!
Then Ananda and Amber take on the crazy challenge as shown in this video clip!
Amber is victorious afterwards!
We are through most of the big challenges, but there is still more to go
We look up at the "cracked egg" that marks the exit
And back out at the expanse of the Playground not explored on this outing
And we look down at Goleta and the Airport below
We meet another survivor among the rocks
A parting look at the Playground area we had been exploring
And one of the many intriguing natural formations
Then we make our way out through the trail that is woodsy in places
And arid in others
Another successful fun day at the Playground!
Please note: At http://www.santabarbarahikes.c