The Ridge

The Best (and pretty much only) hike in Avila Beach, CA.

Disclaimer: I have probably done this hike over 50 times, which means that the pictures I have will be from various hikes, and also that many of the times I have been there I didn’t even take pictures. For example, I did this hike this past week, and I didn’t take a single photo, which I’m regretting now, because the fog created a cool effect over the ocean that I now don’t have a photo of. But I do have a million other photos that span over various years, so get excited.

The Ridge is a gorgeous hike and I think perfectly encapsulates the beauty of the Central Coast. You have panoramic views of the ocean for over half of the trail, and there are some fun and interesting caves/beaches you can explore at one point as well. You also have views of the grape and agricultural fields at various parts of the trail. It’s a respectable 3 1/2-ish mile trail which makes it perfect if you don’t have a ton of time but want to get some nature in. I’ve also had friends who have stopped here and hiked it with me while they were driving North on the 101 because it’s right off the freeway.

Sorry, I know some of these photos aren’t up to par but I’m fairly confident that last photo was taken on the first cell phone I even owned just to give you an idea of how long I have been doing this hike.

To get to the trailhead, you actually need to be in Shell Beach. You turn onto El Portal and Drive down that street until it runs into a fence. To the left of the fence there is a driveway and to the right of the fence there is the trailhead. Drive down the driveway and park your car in the lot. It’s really small, so if there’s no spots you can also park on the street across from the trailhead.

The trailhead starts you on a flat trail with your back to the ocean that basically walks below and next to the “ridge” mountain that you are later going to climb up and then back down. Right before you hit the 101, you start up a very steep trail. I know it sounds like it would suck to do a hike right next to a freeway, but once you’re past that initial climb, you can’t see it at all. And while you climb, you can see the ocean and the hills of the other side of the 101 so it’s never been a deal breaker for me.

Once you make it to the top of the ridge, you go through a series of up and downs as you traverse the trail. The rule with this trail is if you think you’ve gone up the last hill before you start walking down, you have one more. But fear not, the views along the way of the ocean and the houses in Shell and the agricultural fields means that you don’t really notice the incline all the much. Like seriously, the views are amazing.

After all that spread out uphill, you now get to do a very tricky and fairly dangerous thing: walk all the uphill back down in a very short amount of space. This part of the trail is essentially straight down. Make sure your shoes have some tread folks because you will be sliding a bit.

Side note: I’ve actually slid down this hill on pieces of cardboard in the middle of the night and had the cops called on us because our gleeful screams were confused for an injured hiker. The cop literally ran up this hill and we were all very impressed with his fitness level. We all thought we were going to get in trouble but the cop was pretty amused when we told him what we were doing and just told us to keep the noise down.

After that lovely downhill, it’s pretty much flat from here. If you go to your right there is a beach (that you have to climb down to) and some pretty sweet caves to explore. If you go to your left you are in the parking lot of Pirate’s Cove Beach. Fun fact: Pirate’s Cove is not a public beach, so if you wanna get naked/participate in some illicit activities (if you are of age of course) this is the beach to go to on the Central Coast.

After you’re done exploring, the trail takes you past the gate on an old fire road that is no longer in use that goes on the bluffs above Pirate’s Cove beach. You don’t get much a view, because you’re surrounded by tall fennel, artichoke, and yucca plants, but the purple flowers from the artichoke and white blooming Yucca are pretty, and the fennel makes the whole part of this trail smell like black licorice.

After you get to the end of the fire trail, you actually walk down Bluff Drive/Trail, which is a sidewalk trail with the ocean on one side and giant McMansions on the other. I am a fan of ignoring the signs that say pedestrians must walk on the sidewalk and like to walk on the street because 1) the sidewalk has inclines and declines and the road does not and 2) the road offers you a better view of all the giant mansions and I like to look at them. Pretty much this entire street is #housegoals.

The end of Bluff trail is where your car is parked if you’re parked in the lot. If you’re on the street you’re going to have to walk out of the lot and then you’re there. If you’re ever visiting or even just driving through the Central Coast I would highly recommend this hike. It has varied scenery, it’s quick, it’s not too easy or too hard, and people at many different fitness levels are able to complete it.

Some other notes about the trail: a lot of people actually do it in the reverse direction. I’ve done it that way once before but I didn’t like it because it’s really not fun to walk up that monster hill and then after that you might as well go sit back down because the rest of it is essentially downhill. I also like facing the ocean on my way up most of the hike and then down that monster hill as opposed to having it at my back for that first part of the hike and then a significant portion of the rest of the hike. It’s also very pretty to do this hike at sunset, but there are a few unmarked turn-offs and it’s hard to walk down that steep hill in the dark, so I wouldn’t recommend that if you’ve never done this hike before. All in all, this is a great hike that everyone who loves the ocean and enjoys creeping on rich people’s houses will definitely enjoy.

Until next time! 🙂

 

Mount Baldy

June 17th, 2017 – This hike had its ups and downs… literally

Mount Baldy is the highest peak in Southern California at 10,064 feet of elevation. Mount Baldy is a nickname for the mountain; the actual name of the mountain is Mount Antonio. People nicknamed it Mount Baldy because the peak is so high in altitude that no vegetation will grow on the top and someone looked at the mountain and thought it looked like a bald man’s head. Thus, the name Mount Baldy was born. Even though it’s a nickname, the name Mount Baldy is more commonly used and the street to up to the Mountain and the town at the base of the mountain are both called Mount Baldy. Have I used the word Baldy enough?

This hike is rough, but beautiful. There’s A LOT of elevation gain in a fairly short time period and then going back down isn’t any easier. You can do the hike in a loop, which is always nice so then you get to see different things on the way up and the way down. We took Devil’s Backbone trail up to the summit and then Baldybowl trail on the way down.

To get to the hike, you have to drive up a windy road through a tiny town that reminds of the towns near Yosemite that are sort of nestled in the crook of a mountain. The road has some sharp turns and at some points it curves around at nearly 180 degrees.

The trail starts up a fire road. At first it’s paved and then it turns into a gravel road at the turn off to go up the Devil’s Backbone trail. The trail climbs fairly steadily, but it wasn’t too difficult and we still managed to do about a 20 minute mile. The trail is actually really pretty and there is a view through the mountains towards the ocean the entire time you walk up. We couldn’t actually see the ocean because there was a lot of haze, but I bet without the June Gloom there you would be able to see it in the fall or spring. There are also a lot of beautiful Yucca plants on the trail peppered among the pine trees and manzanitas. Right when you start up the trail about a half mile in there’s a pretty view of a multi-layer waterfall. As you’re walking up the trail in this part there is a ski lift running up the mountain that the switchbacks of the path sort of zig zags under. All I can say is that I really wanted to get on that ski lift a few times.

Eventually, the trail literally runs into the ski lodge. At this point we got a little confused because we thought it was strange that a trail just ran into the lodge, but my dad ran inside the lodge and asked one of the workers where the trail was and he told us to take the middle trail that run under the ski lift. My dad and I both took a photo next to the ski lodge because there was a cool sign that said “adjust your altitude” and because it perfectly framed Mount Baldy in the background. It also was definitely very weird to see a bunch of equipment such as snowmobiles and sledding hills without any snow.

I’m going to be honest with you, the next part of this hike is straight up awful. You gain so much freaking elevation in so little distance. The trail from the ski lodge is pretty steep, but it’s also kind of nice because you can finally see over the top of the mountain to the other side. It’s a pretty view because you can see the mountains on the other side and the squares of agricultural fields cut out in the distance beyond the mountains, almost like you’re looking at it from an airplane.

The next part of the hike is called Devil’s Backbone, and it’s aptly named. There’s a steep drop off on one or both sides of the trail at this part. It kinda does look like you’re walking along the backbone of the devil. It’s a little freaky at times because the path gets really narrow, but as with the rest of this hike, the views are really pretty. This past winter, there were actually two hikers who fell to their death off of this trail because it was icy and slippery and the trail is incredibly narrow. We just took it slow and were careful and it was kind of a fun trail once you got past the being freaked out part.

This next part is easily the hardest part of the hike. The hiking manual made my dad and I laugh because it said “this part of the trail has deterred many an experienced hiker”. The trail essentially just goes straight up the mountain in a curvy path. It’s unreal. I barely took any photos because I was breathing so hard and just sort of forgot I had a camera around my neck. There were a few large-ish snowpacks that I just didn’t get a good photo of, although you can see it in the left corner of one I took of the trail. I think it took us 40 minutes to do one mile. The elevation gain is also killer and I think my dad and I may have both gotten acute altitude sickness because we had terrible headaches. I essentially felt like I was crawling up the side of this mountain. I’ve done many a hike, including half dome and parts of the High Sierra Loop Trail, and this may have been the most difficulty I’ve ever had on a hike. My feelings about it can be accurately described by a man who made it to the top after us. He walked up the sign that signified you made it to the top, yelled “F*CK” at the top of his lungs, and then collapsed into a heap on top of his backpack. Same bro, same.

The summit of Mount Baldy is, as one would expect, quite bald. It wasn’t that windy the day we went up there, but another hiker whom I met at the top who’s done this hike every year for about 20 years told me it can get quite windy. There are piles of stones at the top that I’m sure are there for hikers to sit in and get out of the wind. My dad and I ate a sandwich and some snacks at the top, and then started on our way down.

We took Baldybowl trail on the way down. Another hiker who passed us said she’ll take this way up and down because it’s shorter, but I would never want to hike up this trail because it’s so dang steep. The downhill was almost as bad as the uphill for us, but that’s mainly because my dad and I both have hiking shoes that are over 6 years old and because we didn’t bring any poles with us. If I went on this hike again, I would definitely bring poles. It’s incredibly steep downhill (steeper than the way we took up) and poles would have kept us from sliding as much as we did and having to grab onto rocks every time there was a large drop. Just to give you an idea, there were parts of this hike that went downhill so quickly that I thought it was a water shoot and I was looking around for the actual trail. I would’ve done anything for a switch back.

Along the trail on the way down there are some interesting sights. We got to cross over a tiny stream and I thought it was very cute. There was also a ski lodge built in the 1930’s along the trail that’s owned by the Sierra Club and painted a vibrant green color. It had some chairs out front that were carved out of trees that were, as my dad would say, “nifty”.

After about 4 and a half miles of this death of a downhill trail where I lost a few toenails, you make it back to the fire road and back past the waterfall. I can’t say that I was sad to end the hike at this point, but I’m glad I did this because it was a challenge, I got to spend some time with my dad, and I got to spend an entire day outside after two weeks of being cooped up inside studying for finals. Nature always makes me happy. 🙂

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Thanks for reading! See ya next time folks!

Nature Photo Collab

I know this isn’t quite an adventure but…

Fun fact about me: I really enjoy hand lettering and like to think that I’m at least semi-decent at it. This past quarter at school I’ve been working with one of my friends, who is an incredibly talented nature photographer, to combine my lettering with his photography into prints. These are only preliminary ideas that need a bit of work to get them to the final product, but I thought I would share them because I am literally obsessed.

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This particular photo was actually what inspired the name of this blog, and I just changed it to be the header photo for this site. This photo was actually taken over a salt flat in Death Valley around sunset, which I think is sick.

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I love puns, they are my favorite thing in the world.

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I really like this one because I feel like the photo matches the quote super well. Also the single consistent color of the photo is pleasing.

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This photo of a buffalo was taken on Catalina island. The sunset in the background is gorgeous and the detail on the hair of the buffalo is crazy.

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I think this one might be one of my favorites because the reflection is gorgeous and the quote fits nicely into the photo.

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This little girl is adorable and the bird detail is incredible. Words might need to be darkened but also a huge fan of this one.

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Favorite quote in the entire world and one of my favorite place as well. This was taken in Big Sur at Pfeiffer State park.

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Hope you enjoyed! 🙂 There’s a few more in the works and I’ll post updates as we work on them more!