Cold Spring: aide mémoire

It was hot already at 7 as I biked up to Cold Spring. My route went through the devastation of the Tea fire. Which stopped so close to Cold Spring trail. And a few months later the Jesusita fire went on to burn its west fork.

When I was in college I used to bike over to Chantry Flats and hike. I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew that I could go for hours without seeing a road. I would stumble back in the evening twilight. When I left Pasadena I took a few pictures, but I thought “Why bother? I can always return.”

Well, now that forest has burned up too, and I can’t return, not in my lifetime anyway.

Live Oaks and a rock near the start of Cold Spring trailSo perhaps I should take some pictures of Cold Spring — just in case.

September is probably not the best time to do this, at the end of a dry summer everything looks a little sere. But now is when I am here, thinking of it. So now is when I shall do it.

Cold Spring Trail and its treesI want to remember the simple, ordinary things. Normally I look for things that strike my fancy, but today, I want to capture the essence. These very ordinary trees reaching over the trail. Nothing special, but worth remembering nonetheless.

The stream itself is dryThe lower part of the trail goes beside (or near) the stream. Today, at the end of summer, with no rain since June, the stream is hibernating, it has hidden itself under the ground, and all I see is the dry stream bed.

In a month or two the Sycamores will start dropping their leaves. One of the few local trees that bothers to do that. But for now the sun shines brightly on those leaves…

Mud puddle Dry waterfall
Mud Normally a pretty waterfall

Fern beside a trickle of waterThe trail crosses the streambed here, and winds up on the other side. Then it crosses again and here the water has been pushed to the surface, a little of it runs over the rocks where I cross, and a fern takes advantage of the water and the sun.

Away from the creekFor a time the trail continues beside the creek, but soon it starts to climb out of the canyon. The vegetation is still comparatively lush, and there are ferns beside the trail for a while yet…

After I’ve been trotting through the canyon for about 20 minutes the trail breaks out into the sunlight. It’s hot today. Here are the powerlines. First view of the trees And here is the first view of the trees. About halfway up the trail, standing tall amid the chaparral, there are two eucalyptus trees. How they got there, I don’t know. But they are visible for a long way, quite different from the surrounding landscape, and make a clear goal. I’m going up there (and beyond). From here, just a tiny dot on top of a ridge line… but I’ll get there.whitespace

Coast, looking east toward CarpenteriaAs I climb away from the fire road that services the pylons, views open out. First a view up the coast, east, toward Carpenteria. It’s hazy this morning and I’m looking into the sun.

Then round the bend and past the “No trespassing” sign that marks the Hot Springs connector trail.

Steep bit of trailThe trail gets steep, and then opens and flattens out on a ridgeline, with the mountains just peeking down on me.



Second view of the treesFrom here I get a second view of the trees. They still look terribly far away. The trail continues on this ridge for a bit and then starts climbing, eventually reaching the hill in the distance where it is dimly visible traversing on a diagonal under the trees.


Looking back at the treesAfter 35 minutes or so from the base I have reached and passed the trees. The city of SB is in the background. Somehow they don’t look nearly as impressive when seen from above.

Now we head toward Montecito Peak. The trail is fairly exposed here and travels through chaparal (mostly manzanita) about as high as I am. Sometimes I can see over it, often not.

ViewOff to the left is the ridge line containing Camino Cielo, while on the right is the slope up to the peak.

Switchbacks criss-cross this area, eventually taking me to the shady side of the peak.


Montecito Peak Panorama

Again Camino Cielo is on the right, on the left is the trail, which bends right and follows a series of ridges which lead, eventually to the road.

Tunnel of shrubsOne of my favorite spots on the upper trail, the shrubbery becomes tall enough that it arches over the trail, leaving a pleasant tunnel through which the far ridge line is visible.

Sadly, in 2015, the Gibraltar Fire burned this area (so it was a good thing I took these pictures). This area now looks like:

Out from under the shrubbery the trail bends right and then makes a big “U”, eventually looking back on Montecito Peak.

Looking back toward Montecito peak and the oceanThe peak, with  Santa Cruz Island poking out of the haze just above it, and the city of Santa Barbara spread out below.

After a few more twists and turns I reach the top. The paved road, Camino Ciello.


CS16-Top-24Sep2009-1600Across the road lies the valley of the Santa Ynez river, and the trail beckons me on. Only “4 miles to Forebush Flats” it says.

Sigh. But that journey is for another day. Rusty has only given me a two hour run today, and it takes about one hour to get here. I must turn back now.

Santa Barbara, from aboveAs I turn back I see a better view of the city than I have yet had.

And another of Montecito Peak.

Montecito Peak

A flowerAnd here is a flower. I realize it is the first I have noticed today. Whereas a few months ago the trail had many wildflowers, today there are almost none. Spring is long gone, and now summer is over too.


Seed pods June blooms produced these pods.
Seed pods produced by these June flowers
Celmentis whilagigs clementis
And here a few seed pods from the clemantis which bloomed even earlier.

Oh Island, in the haze/ Brought to me by...Off in the distant haze Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.


The trees againThe trees again, arching over the trail in a friendly way.

But between the trees, I see the barren wasteland left by the Jesusita fire.


Barren hills from the Jesusita fire.
The other fork of Cold Spring trail is all burnt up.


2 Responses to “Cold Spring: aide mémoire”

  1. Nichol Says:

    Thank you George. Now when it burns we can walk down memory lane and remember what we’ve lost…….if we are able to forget it in the first place at all.

  2. Loose hips sink marathon hopes? « George’s Meanderings Says:

    […] It’s the first time I’ve been up here after the rain, the first rain of the new water year, 10 days ago. The creek is happily talking to itself again, not just a bunch of mud puddles as it was a month ago. […]

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