WHERE LUG SOLES FEAR TO TREAD
Martin Feather & Cristy Bird
Seeking backpacking routes to some of the HPS peaks, we followed some OHV trails recently:
Over the New Year period we took the bike trail 1W17 from (west of) Crab Flats down to Holcomb Creek and up to Hawes. We were relying upon the recent snowfall to have deterred the majority of would-be OHVers. One "clutch" (?) of bikers passed us, and a couple of 4-wheel-gizmos puttered around, but generally it was quiet. Nevertheless, we were happy to leave the trail and descend to the foot of Hawes. With water nearby from Line Spring, we had an ideal base camp from which to scale the looming summits of Ingham, the two Shays, and Deer. Our exit route followed the old foot-trail along Cox Creek and then up to intersect the OHV ridge route (the point where the foot trail leaves the OHV route has been deliberately hidden). This being New Years Day, the revelers of the night before had not yet revived, so we were able to scurry without fear of being turned into road kill.
Later this winter we drove through Hungry Valley, with our backpacks hidden in the rear of our 4WD Ford Explorer, to get to the start of the Snowy Creek trail. This, an old motorcycle trail in the Los Padres, is currently closed to all use, however the ranger gave us permission to hike it that day. The early part of the trail exhibits some truly spectacular erosion - it's like walking down a bobsled track! Alan Coles tells us that eventually the trail is to be re-routed to avoid its enviromentally-sensitive Piru Creek crossing location, and re-opened to OHVs. We had the trail to ourselves, and greatly enjoyed camping in the Snowy Creek canyon. We day-hiked from there to Snowy Peak, but declined the opportunity to continue on to Black. (Instead, we hiked the latter from Buck Creek on a separate trip - have to spread those peaks out among multiple backpack trips!)
The secret of our "success" in avoiding OHVers in OHV areas? Remain attuned to the OHV thought-processes! For example, we drove up Geringer Grade to get to the trailhead for Weldon. Despite its name, we'd say this road's surface is quite DEgraded ... ruts big enough to swallow a motorcycle and then some.
P.S., In the last couple of years we have noticed many HPS routes, including off-trail routes, that were marked with ribbons in assorted anti-natural colors (neon red, pink, orange, etc.) tied to trees and bushes. These ribbons are completely inappropriate in natural surroundings. We would like to remind folks that there are less obnoxious ways to mark routes (e.g., "ducks" limited to a few critical locations).