Thursday, March 31, 2016

Chasing Waterfalls and Making Burgers

We purchased a new toy for camping, a Biolite Camp Stove and Grill-top. We were excited to try out our new toy; but before we did, we headed off to chase waterfalls at our new favorite campground, Arroyo Seco. Yes, we were just there less than a month ago, but we enjoyed our stay at this pretty spot that we decided to head back before the warm-weather campers make it difficult to reserve a spot at the campground. Plus, it was Spring Break for our college son, and we thought he would enjoy seeing the waterfalls and hiking the region.

So, off the three of us went to hike closer to that waterfall my husband and I tried to hike to on our last trip. This time we brought with us water shoes for crossing the Santa Lucia Creek.

This time the water level was higher due to the rains the previous week.

We had to cross the creek twice to get closer to the falls...

And do a lot of bouldering to make it to this little island in the creek just below the falls. Doggy wasn't happy with the wading across the creek-she isn't a water dog.

A couple of smaller falls were running. We saw a newt trying to run for cover while we hiked through his lush, green habitat. He was too bashful to pose for a photo; so, my son posed.

The seven mile round trip hike took us by a hut that was used by rangers in the 1920s.

Swimming holes along the Arroyo Seco river can been seen from the trail we hiked along. The weather was warm enough for a swim that day, but we wanted to get back to camp to set up the Biolite grill camp stove.

I collected twigs, while husband looked after the burgers. Surprisingly, not a huge pile of twigs and sticks were needed. I only needed to pick up the fallen sticks around our site; which wasn't too much, but more than the amount in the photo.

The first batch of burgers were so yummy! We were so happy with the performance of the stove and grill top that I cooked the last two burgers as the sun was quickly setting. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Arroyo Seco Surprises!

Arroyo Seco Campground has been on my must visit list for sometime since its location is on the east side of the Santa Lucia ridge in the Los Padres National Forest. My husband and I have frequent the west side of the ridge, the Big Sur coastal region, numerous times. Curiosity got the best of me! We headed off without reservations, but we were very fortunate to get a spot that just fit our travel trailer and car. To our surprise, almost all of the spots were reserved or already had campers occupying sites since the weather was unseasonably warm for February. It was awesome seeing families camping, hiking, and enjoying nature!

Our closest camp neighbor was blocked by our RV.

After settling in, the camp host informed us on where to find the Horse Bridge and a waterfall. So, off we went for an eight mile hike into the beautiful hills. First, we hiked the fire road around to Marble Peak trail.

The views from the fire road looking into the Arroyo Seco were stupendous.

Along the way were many mountain flowers in bloom. The pretty flower below is one I had never seen before; it's called Santa Lucia Sticky Monkey Flower.

The Horse Bridge is a suspension bridge that was built by the CCC in 1938. It is the only suspension bridge within the Los Padres National Forest. 

Below the bridge is a sandy beach with a nice size swimming hole. Even thought the water was surprisingly warm, we didn't go for a swim.

After a short rest and a snack, we headed off to find the waterfall. We had to backtrack a short way on the fire road to the junction of Spur Road. From there, we walked down to the old CCC house. Luckily for us there were some hikers coming out from the trail that we needed to use to get to the waterfall; otherwise, we would have never seen the trail. The trails in this region of the Los Padres NF are not well marked-or marked at all. We followed the Santa Lucia trail in the direction to Last Chance Camp for a short distance and then took an unmarked trail that follows the Santa Lucia Creek. We did a lot of bouldering until we decided to call it close enough. My legs were getting tired,  and it was getting late in the day. I knew we still had at least a three mile hike back to camp. Clambering over rocks is best done earlier in the day when one is full of energy. 

Next time we will get closer to the falls and enjoy its beauty while taking a lunch break.

On the way back to the campground, we walked by a group of much younger hikers that had just climbed out of the gorge and onto to fire road. Everyone looked just as tired as my husband and I were feeling; but at the same time, everyone looked happy and content- just like us!

Back at camp, we enjoyed resting while listening to the sound of frogs that was coming from below our campsite. Just below the fence, the hill drops steeply to lake bed.

The next morning, we discovered that the lake below was the ideal breeding ground for the frogs.

Will we come back to camp here again? You bet we will, but only in late Fall, Winter, or Early Spring since we were told that the campground is always full during warm weather months.