Ron & Leora Jones
This was advertised as a beginners hike and half of our party was. Six of us met at the intersection of Peace Valley Road and the Gorman offramp at 7 am Saturday morning. On the drive out we went through a substantial 20 minute rain shower in Los Angeles, but found a bright sunrise and clear skies in Gorman.
We caravanned to the first peak, Alamo, all the way up the 26+ miles of some not-so-great paved roads. Ron says the "paved" portion is much worse than 2 or 3 years ago, while the higher dirt road is in good condition.
1-1/2 hours later, we were at the piped gate and parking area for Sewart. The hike was uneventful but nice. After a brief lunch at the cars, we retraced our steps about 1 mile back on the same road to the small parking area for about 4 cars. This was the take off point for McDonald. The views were clear and long of the Sespe Wilderness Area, and a slight breeze and puffy white clouds made for perfect hiking weather.
The long 26+ miles downhill played havoc on one of the vehicle's brakes. It cost us an extra hour and the day was getting on. By the time we got to the Reyes Campground (about one hour away from the bottom) it was approximately 6:30 pm and we all opted to get Reyes in the morning.
The Mexican potluck began. Despite the no-shows, it was still a great success. From green salad and 7-layered bean dip to sizzling faJitas and beyond. The night air was cool, and morning brought temperatures in the mid 40's.
We were on our way up Reyes Pk by 8:30 am Sunday morning. It was cool, breezy and crystal clear dawning views of the Channel Islands. We were back to the cars and moving on to the road head for the Ortegas by 11 am.
It was quite warm, and the entire hike up Ortega Pk was exposed with no wisp of shade at all. We found the overgrown abandoned dirt road up the slope and proceeded to get beat up in the thick brush while on route. Two beginners opted to wait near the "Orange 28" sign until we returned from the peak. The knife ridge near the peak is a little exposed and requires good solid footing and a fearless attitude for heights. We were back on the road toward the cars about 2 pm and all participants agreed that it was hot and there wasn't enough desire to finish up with Ortega Hill. It remains as unfinished business on another, cooler, day.
Thanks to all of our participants for a good trip: Sue Gunn, Anne Allen, Cindy & Adam Scott.