Sierra Club Playground Hike
By Robert Bernstein
Many Sierra Club hikes are being canceled now due to the surge in COVID cases. But here are photos of a hike I led back in November at The Playground. My favorite hike to lead!
We had 18 brave people who came out to hike on an exceptionally and unseasonably hot day. As usual, the group gathered on the first overlook before descending into the labyrinth below.I asked the group to wait for me for a bit as I scouted out the route to the hidden caves. This made for a nice group photo looking back toward the "balcony" where we entered high above.When I am scouting, I look for these beautiful rounded rocks and I know I am on the right track.As usual, I paused below those rocks to take photos of people "holding up" the Atlas Rock. This was a group of UCSB Mathematics graduate students working as a team!Here their professor led the way for them as we entered the concealed top of the cave complex.Of course we did another group photo in the largest cave chamber.It is a bit of a squeeze exiting the lower end of the cave complex, but everyone made it through with a smile! Including one of our newest hikers Selveda!The real squeeze happens passing through the famous gem of The Playground: The Narrows.
We usually have lunch at the bottom of the Narrows and make that the turn around point. But sometimes if we have an energetic group we venture out to the "Bird's Nest" at the lowest end of The Playground. Can you see why it is called the "Bird's Nest"?
This was one of those occasions. Despite the heat, most of this energetic group eagerly continued on! Here was the final climb onto the deck of the Bird's Nest.Here was the view on that deck.
It was a hot climb up steep exposed rock to make our way back up from the Narrows after the Bird's Nest excursion.
I love this view as we made our way from the "Mushroom Rock" past the "Cube Rock" after that long climb.
We cooled off in a cave before the final part of the exit from The Playground.
My wife Merlie was looking a bit tired as we neared the exit at the top of the Playground.
But everyone made it out OK and had a good time!
You can see the schedule of all of our local Sierra Club Santa Barbara Group hikes here. Everyone is welcome!