[OH, HEY LOOK WHAT I FORGOT TO POST! HEH HEH. ENJOY.]
I love spontaneous trips! You never know quite what will happen. Today was one such day.
After lunch today, I decided that I was going to go to Los Padres Dam. Sure, it was already 1:30 and it’s an hour drive. No problem! Besides, I had just gotten my Crestrail 65 and I needed to break it in… I might as well load it up and head out. Sounds logical, right?
Usually my adventures start at the trail head. As expected, the road to lead up to Los Padres was narrow and exceptionally winding. This is normally not that big of a problem, except that the cars coming towards me weren’t expecting someone on the road, so I had to try to swerve as close to the side of the road as possible. I feared for my life every time. And then there were the “Road Narrows” signs. This already narrow road, which could barely pass two cars, would give even narrower at points! Heaven forbid a car would pass at that time. A golf cart maybe, but not a car.
Despite my doubts, I made it to the trail head in one piece. I hoisted my pack and off I went.
I hadn’t gone more than a quarter of a mile when I heard an off road bike behind me.
VROOOM! PUTPUTPUTPUT… VROOM VROOM! PUTPUTPUT….
I looked over my shoulder, and had just enough time to jump off the trail before a girl, probably in high school, whooshed past me, cigarette in her mouth and a distinct lack of a helmet. I shook my head, the smell of gas and cigarette smoke lingering in the air. Not long afterwards I heard her bike again, and I hurried off the trail so as not to get run over.
Before long the sound of the motorbike was replaced by the sound of falling water. I turned a corner and found Los Padres Reservoir laid out in front of me. A great sheet of water tumbled down from the reservoir, and was directed through a smaller channel and into a stream below. A bridge stretched out across the channel, connecting the trail. You could feel vibrations from the water when standing on the bridge, such was the strength of the water below.
At this point I should mention that I had an ulterior reason for taking this hike. If you’ve read my blogs, you know that my hobbies are a bit unusual. In addition to hiking and backpacking, I also collect action figures. But I don’t collect popular action figures. At the moment, my focus in on action figures from the show Mystic Knights of Tir na Nog, a one season show that aired on Fox Kids in 1998. This was the first attempt to do a non-Japanese tokusatsu-style action show. It was placed on a romantic-medieval island split by two countries: the benevolent Kells led by King Conchobar and the greedy Temra, led by Queen Maeve. The mystic knights were Conchobar’s finest warriors, who wielded mystical armor against Maeve’s evil magic. I started collecting the action figures as a kid, and have picked it up more now as an adult. This has also fostered my hobby of not only collecting the action figures, but also taking pictures of them. For this trip, I pulled one of my actions figures out at random, and thus Ivar: Mystic Knight of Water joined me on my adventure (and, no, I didn’t pick him on purpose).
I had a lot of fun with Ivar with the dam. I wanted to take a picture of him on the bridge, but it was vibrating so much that I couldn’t get him to stand up, and I wasn’t about to put him on the railing so the water was visible in the background. It’s really hard to find these action figures anymore! I’m not about to drop him into a dam!
After taking some pictures with Ivar and the dam, I continued up and around the dam and to the reservoir. The reservoir was a beautiful, sweeping lake. Mountain ridges snaked in and out of the lake, framing it. After a few minutes of admiring the view, I took a few more pictures of Ivar, and continued on.
I followed the trail around the edge of the reservoir, and then took the Big Pines trail up and onto the surrounding ridge. The extra weight from my pack made it more slow-going that I had anticipated. Regardless, I was enjoying myself and the views were spectacular.
I was going on my merry way, when the trail suddenly narrowed and the poison oak, which had been prevalent before, increased in size and number. Before I knew it I was dodging six-foot-tall poison oak bushes, and using my trekking poles to push away thick poison oak vines from the path. I was a miracle that I didn’t end up covered in red, itchy rashes. I thought of turning back and taking a different trail many times, but my bullheadedness kept me going. In hindsight it was probably a really stupid thing to do.
After navigating through the thickest patch of poison oak that day, I exited the forest and found myself on a ridge surrounded by chaparral. The trail all but disappeared by this point, but I continued up the ridge anyways. I was enjoying the landscape stretched out in front of me, and the calm silence of the back country when I heard in the distance…
VROOOM! PUTPUTPUTPUT… VROOM VROOM! PUTPUTPUT….
Oh, well. The calm was nice while it lasted.