La Cumbre Peak Elevation: 3,995′ Miles: ?? Trail head (34.4956, -119.7142) Agency: Los Padres National Forest
Well, it's only been a few times since I started this blog where I turned around before attaining the summit(s) I was seeking. This was one of those times. I had intended on bagging three peaks in the Mission Crags area above Santa Barbara. I am getting to the point where, while I am driving around, I can look up and identify the peaks and features of the front range here.
I got a fairly early start and drove up Camino Cielo (one of my favorite roads) and easily found the gate to La Cumbre Peak. My goal this morning was to summit La Cumbre, Cathedral, and Arlington Peaks. The linear distance was relatively low, but the terrain wasn't going to be including a maintained trail for most of the way.
There are ways to get there from the bottom of the range, but I chose to start from the top. One reason was that I love Camino Cielo so much. The road atop the front range ridge offers some of the best views I've ever seen. It's a great way to see the sunrise. Another reason is that the move to Santa Barbara has completely wrecked my fitness and hiking schedule that I have lost a little confidence in my overall abilities to accomplish a lot of mileage in a day, as well as tackle more challenging terrain.
This day was promising a little challenging, but at least a little short.
As I was getting my gear on from the back of my car. That sinking feeling hit me again. I had forgotten something important. Last time, it was my Flip and Canon G11 cameras, this time, it was my trail shoes. Pretty crucial items. I decided at that point that I would play it by ear. I was wearing my Keens, which are pretty rugged. If I was walking down a well-maintained trail, they might work, but this was likely to involve some light-heavy bushwhacking, so I'd see how it went.
I walked the short distance to the lookout tower and enjoyed the warm sun. It had been pretty breezy on the back side of the ridge. I scrambled to the summit block, just to the south of the tower, and found the benchmark. I am still amazed at how easy it is to enjoy an amazing view without hiking very far.
I got a pretty good view of the terrain ahead so I went back down to the park bench area and followed a trail leading down from it. This trail led right to a rock formation and then petered out. I scouted all around, sometimes bushwhacking a bit, before realizing that I should be to the east a little more. Rather than go back up to where I came from, I made the mistake of bushwhacking east. A trail started in that direction, but then ended a couple of hundred yards in. I was sure I would pick up the trail in no time. About an hour later, I finally picked up a trail, which then disappeared.
I ended up bushwhacking and backtracking for over an hour before I finally found the proper trail that went straight down the mountain. I looked at the trail. And then back at my Keens. I knew better. I decided to call it a day.
My knees hurt, I just didn't feel strong, it was already about 9:30AM, and my shoes were all wrong for the task. I took mental pictures and some digital ones, and made my way back up to the bench. At least I got to summit one peak, got some hiking in, and I knew the way for next time. I decided to go geocaching and found 4 caches in the area. An overall great morning.
My iPhone went through the wash, so I think it was affecting my signal, so my track from the hike was all over the place. I will get a clean track from the next time I make it up here.