Oliver is getting to be a much bigger kitty. He's still a kitten though, and after torturing Taz, took up this position in my ladies' lounge (bathroom).
This past Saturday, I took Meredith on a deathmarch (hike) to one of my old favorite spots, Lion Canyon trail near the Sespe wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest (southern portion, back of Ventura/Ojai). These great series of hiking spots are accessed off the 33 going northeast of Ojai past Matilija Creek.
Here is Sespe Creek by the Lower Lion campground. This campground was somewhat occupied despite the cold weather, with a couple of young guys, a couple and another friend, and a mature version of Chris McCandless (though a "rubber" tramp version).
My faulty memory combined this campground's pit toilet (not at all bad, plenty of TP) with the actual bathroom with running water found at Oak Flat, which is actually on the Piedra Blanca trail, not far away . . .
The stream was clear and running rapidly, but very easy to cross.
At the start of the trail looking east across the Sespe wilderness, the sky was extremely clear and a gorgeous blue. Excellent visibility and the air was very crisp and fresh. I don't remember the white stones outlining the trail (which was definitely less-traveled the farther we went, though a large group of kids on horses came off the trail just as we got started).
Another backcountry shot on the way back. This is looking southwest toward Nordhoff ridge (facing back on the trail). The scenery, with stream in the distance, is the sort where I saw the mountain lion on a hike several years ago - i.e., it was "shadowing me" on the other side of where the first stand of trees appear. Between is the stream, recessed in a small gorge.
Here is one of the small seasonal waterfalls to be seen along Hwy 33 on the way from the Ranger station to Rose Valley road. I was unable to locate the boy scout spring that I am pretty sure is also around somewhere on the route (Meredith driving).
I sure love this backcountry. As I told Meredith, this section of the Los Padres National Forest is next to the giant Sespe Wilderness. 33 miles of the Sespe is now a wild and scenic river (and I think Matilija Creek, which would be really awesome, because it is so gorgeous). This large area, being wilderness (also including the nearby Dick Smith Wilderness, also awesome) is closed to non-wilderness activities, such as motorized vehicles, off-roading, ATV's, and let's hope - gangs of beer-guzzling tourists with supersoakers (as seen at the foot of Yosemite Falls - no lie - beyond appalling).
It's wild enough back there that even the short jaunt that I took Meredith on led us well away from the campground and modern noises and sights into the genuine wilderness.
No lions this time though - maybe next time.
Don't be lazy - click and learn about this precious and huge treasure of nature right here in California. - I learned that Sespe Creek is the last undammed (i.e. - no dam) river in Southern California. As someone who grew up near the formerly awesome Santa Ana River (no lie) pre-flood control, or at least, pre-extreme flood control and diversion, I remember this great river. It was truly huge at flood-height, spanning almost the entire valley where I grew up. The large flood basin, as well as entire residential developments, like "East Highlands Ranch," shows what a mighty river this was before human diversion and use.
Anyway, the Sespe is usually crossable and is a creek. And it's the last one. Nice, huh? What they did to the Owens River Valley - that's not progress. It's a crime.