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Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Ventana Wilderness in Los Padres NF: Los Padres Dam/Carmel River on 07/07/2008 22:42:09 MDT Print View

3 Days, 28 Miles Loop Late March 2008

Location: Ventana Wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest, near Carmel Valley, South of Monterey California
Trail Conditions Poorly Maintained as there are only 3 Rangers for the entire wilderness.

Route taken:

Carmel River Trail

Puerto Suelo Trail

Ventana Trail

Big Pines Trail



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View from the Parking Lot
Trail Leading from Parking Lot Heading to Los Padres Dam

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Spillway from the Dam

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Trailhead
Mild Temperatures, Slightly Chilly at Night

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Circling Around Los Padres Dam

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Typical Trail Condition

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One of many wide and narrow streams or rivers to cross
Water was refreshingly cold
Lost on the River
We missed an obscure trail maker; yellow plastic tape
We spent 20 minutes heading up the river looking for a trail
Only to back track...running into a group of 4 guys who had followed us up stream

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One of some 18 to 20 Stream and River Crossings
Our 1st real test of using trail running shoes in the water
Mesh shoes dried out pretty quickly and feet felt fine, despite damp socks.
My shoes were Inov-8 Terroc 330s

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Sulfur Springs
Not much of a campsite...more like a smelly bog like area
Keep pressing on

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Buckskin Flat Campsite
Better Location with more clear spots for pitching a tent
Water was a little walk away

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One of many wide and narrow rivers or streams to cross
Waters were refreshingly cold
Some even had large fish swimming gently in deeper pools by the river

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Tony Crossing one of the deeper streams
The deepest streams were only slightly higher than the knees

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There were two decent sized campsites here, but we struck out for Round Rock Campsite, which was 1 mile away.
There were two high school groups heading in opposite directions that were meeting at this site in the middle.

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With only 3 Rangers for this entire wilderness, many of the trails have become grown over.
This is the trail to Round Rock Camp, which was a bit of a bushwhack.
Funny thing, passing a campsite, I found an unburned Duraflame log that was sitting on an abandoned fire ring. Pyro that I am, I carried it one handed through the brush to our campsite some distance away.

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View from the Trail to Round Rock

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Round Rock Campsite
This site stands above a nice stream which gives you easy access to water and a nice view below and something to listen to as you sleep.
Mountain Laurel Designs Poncho Tarp and Soul Side Zip eVent bivy and Henry Shire Contrail Tarptent

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Point of interest is the partially collapsed picnic table in the background, which had carvings in it dating back to 1972.

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View Descending from Round Rock

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After a steep climbing out of the Valley and away from the stream, the trail turns left and heads steadily up as we attempt to reach Ventana Double Cone, which is a saddle of peaks.
As you can see, the trail is completely grown over.

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Stopping for lunch after one hour of literally crawling on our hands and knees through the brush & branch choked trail.
Our clothing was wet from the moisture on the vegetation and we had our fair share of bruises and cut.
We contemplated pressing on and spending the night up on the ridge to be able to make it to the Double Cone, but without knowing if there was a source of water, we reluctantly turned back.

Ventana Double Cone

Ventana Double Cone in the Distance

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Looking back toward the Dam

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Going Down the Rabbit Hole
The trail was a mix of crawling, crouching and walking with your head down at 90 degrees.
Our packs were constantly snagging branches but suffered no damage.

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Jeremy Torn Up

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Trail Heading to Pat Springs

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Jeremy Checking to see where we are

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Looking Back at the Ridge with Ventana Double Cone

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Kicking back at Pat Spring
Great spot jutting out from a hillside to a clearing.
The fog would roll in in the evening and blanket everything like a sea of cotton with ridges poking out like islands.

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Not a bad view for Dinner and Morning

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Enjoying a Leisurely Dinner and Sunset

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Tarp & Bivy Morning

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Pat Spring

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Descending Down Away from Pat Spring

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Typical Trail...could use a little maintenance

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Following the Old Fire Road/Break Down
Looking Back Where We Came From, you can see the Grey Fire Break

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Sea of Poison Oak

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Cool Grey Skies on the Ridge

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Leaving the Park

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Pretty, but don't touch the Poison Oak

Goal

Destination in Sight

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Full Circle

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The End

IF YOU HAVE ANY PHOTOS FROM TRIPS THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN IN THIS AREA, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO POST THEM UP ON THIS THREAD...THEY ARE MUCH APPRECIATED!

Other photo essays by Tony:

BPLer's GGG: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.; Mt. Diablo

BPLer's GGG: Yosemite: Hetch Hetchy Resevior to Rancheria Falls

BPLer's GGG: Point Reyes, CA

Emigrant Wilderness

High Sierra trail to Mt. Whitney

Yosemite: Glacier Point to Red Peak Pass to Lake Merced

Yosemite in Winter: Crocker Point & Dewey Point

Yosemite: Lake Vernon & Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Yosemite: Tenaya Creek

Ventana Wilderness

Edited by Valshar on 10/28/2009 13:22:04 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Ventana Wilderness in Los Padres NF: Los Padres Dam/Carmel River on 07/10/2008 00:34:45 MDT Print View

Pictures are all done being posted up.

Update: with all of the fires in California Ventana Wilderness has been burning. Highly recommend that you contact the Rangers there to find out conditions after the fire. Scenery may have changed significantly.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Ventana Wilderness in Los Padres NF: Los Padres Dam/Carmel River on 07/10/2008 00:44:05 MDT Print View

Nice pictures thanks for sharing

Edited by FastWalker on 07/10/2008 00:45:03 MDT.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
"Ventana Wilderness..." on 07/10/2008 03:09:34 MDT Print View

Tony,
Nice trip report and great pictures, thanks.
Thom

Jeremy Pendrey
(Pendrey) - MLife

Locale: California
Thanks on 07/10/2008 09:12:32 MDT Print View

Tony: Thanks once again for posting the pics. For those not familiar with the Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur, California, it is much more rugged than you would expect. Definitely not the easy high mileage days you can do in the Sierra. But well worth the effort. We'll have to wait and see how the fire burning in the area now (July 08) impacts the wilderness. Although the brush needed clearing, I'm hoping the trees fare better.
-Jeremy

Eric Siegfried
(summiter) - F
thanks on 07/10/2008 13:33:15 MDT Print View

Great pictures, thanks for the commentary. i would feel comfortable going on this trip with this information

Gary Mayhew
(caddisfly) - F
Thanks on 09/05/2009 10:22:15 MDT Print View

Tony,

I am originally from Salinas and when I was a kid I used to hike, camp and fish all over behind Los Padres Dam. Round Rock was one of my favorite destinations. In the late '50s and '60s Round Rock was a great camp site and the stream was full of native Rainbow Trout. Thanks for bringing back so many wonderful memories.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Greatest Compliment on 09/06/2009 22:41:33 MDT Print View

Gary,

One of the reasons that I enjoy taking the time to post these photo essays is not to make myself look good or to brag about where I have been, but simply to share the amazing things that I have seen with everyone else.

If I can inspire someone to take a trip or to bring back some memories, I can not think of a better compliment to receive from someone.

I appreciate your taking the time to reply back, especially since it brought back some good memories...makes it all worth it and inspires me to post up future photo essays.

Here's to good memories and making some new ones on the trail with friends!

-Tony

barry Young
(barryyoung) - F
carmel river on 08/06/2010 00:42:36 MDT Print View

used to backpack up carmel river to buckskin flats in 1969-73. looks the same in your pictures. except for the herds of yeti, which i guess migrated to los padres so. california.

nice photos and account