Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ventana Wilderness Backpack: Los Padres Dam to Hiding Valley Camp

I've been on a blogging hiatus....but we're back!

This weekend we took a little overnight backpacking trip to the Ventana Wilderness! It was...wet. And fun!

Why am I standing in this river? For the 52nd time in two days?

Oh yeah, it's totally beautiful there!

We started out at the Los Padres Dam and estimate that we hiked 9-10 miles to Hiding Valley Camp. The trail starts out following the edge of the reservoir, then turns back up the river canyons into the Wilderness. We followed the Carmel River up to Hiding Valley Camp.

That's our massive tent in the background. Note my classy socks-with-flip-flops.

On the way in, we enjoyed the season's first wildflowers (lupines, poppies, indian paintbrush, wallflower, phacelias) and the views. When we started having to cross the river, we fought it...looking for places to cross on rocks or logs, or taking our shoes off and crossing in sandals and then putting our shoes on again...only to find another crossing 100 yards up the trail! Time consuming. Then, I fell in the river! Up to my waist! Oh man, was I mad and frustrated. After that, I continued to attempt to get dry (Still taking my wet shoes off to cross the river so I didn't get even more wet...). Also, my camera was in a waist-level got wet, but still works after we dried it out. The iPhone took over picture duty.

Once we had gotten onto the Carmel River Trail, we only saw one group of 4 backpackers and 1 crazy ultrarunner (no idea how he was running--with tons of river crossings and lots of rocks and trees on the trail...tough to keep up a running pace!). When I asked one of the backpackers how many more river crossings there were, he said, "Infinite." Note a great sign..

Finally...we decided that if we were going to make it to camp in time for dinner and to get dry and warm--we both had to just GO FOR IT!! Which meant--just start crossing the river with our shoes and socks on, and pants rolled up. Surprisingly--this was a great choice. Way easier to walk in the river, and actually not that cold!

Once at camp, Adam built a fire and we made dinner: poached salmon with lemon and mashed potatoes with broccoli and Gorgonzola cheese. And, in accordance with our style...a bottle of Pinot Grigio. Dark chocolate cherries and chocolate biscotti for dessert. Not bad!!

On the way out---we decided to document our river check out the hike out in photos (a la iPhone) below....

Picture of the first pic of the second crossing.
And the foot makes 11!
Bonus head squishing picture.
Sorry mom.
Sorry again mom(s).
26! Actually it was more like 27 or 28, but those were the crossings of the Carmel River...there were some side streams too.

A great weekend..of course lots of poison oak too, and some ticks. Our recommendations if you're thinking of doing this hike: wear shoes that drain really well but are sturdy (we were thinking non-waterproof hiking shoes, or Keens) with socks...bring lots of extra socks, and shoes to wear around camp (we were thinking Tevas, which are comfy with thick socks and stay on feet pretty well, but aren't as heavy as tennies).